Sunday, 21 December 2014

Why Ikea Germany Should Get A Customer Service

This year I have placed two orders with the German branch of Ikea via their website in order to furnish my apartment. The first order was the biggest one, of a few thousand Euro, allowing me to just have the basic necessities, such as a bed, a table and something to organize my meagre belongings. The second order was to fill this out some, with a drawer set and storage rack for my office, poster frames and some other small items which I still needed.

With both orders I had opted to pay using 'EC-Karte', i.e. by giving Ikea a one-time permission to withdraw the amount owned from my bank account. The first time this worked without problems, yet the second time something strange occurred. It all started when a short while after the second delivery I got a bill delivered by mail from Ikea for this second order. Naturally this was kinda puzzling, especially because there was no further explanation or details provided with the bill. Upon attempting to contact the service department at Ikea Germany by email, I got an automated response informing me that they were 'very busy' and that it could take a month or more for them to respond.

Worse was that I had also found out that the drawer set and one of the poster frames have been severely damaged during transport, with the former practically destroyed. I didn't even have to open the box for it, as the box had been ripped open and many of the parts inside had been destroyed along with it. I contacted Ikea Germany's service department about this (now about two months ago) and I merely got an automated response saying that (again) they were very busy and that it could take a long time. I should just go to my nearest Ikea location and exchange it there, it said. Not easy to do when you're practically working two full-time jobs, though.

The past months I received a reminder from Ikea about the bill after which I tried to contact their customer service again, again without a response, though this time the auto-respond message said that they'd reply in a few days. Not that this happened, though. This week I got the expected letter from a debt collection agency as apparently that's one 'customer service' thing which does work at Ikea. I sent this agency copies of the delivery sheet and filled-in form which gave Ikea permission to withdraw the amount from my bank account.

Then things got interesting. The debt collector claimed that Ikea had contacted me by phone during which it was agreed by Ikea and me that because the bank info on the form was incorrectly filled in, they'd send me a bill by mail. I responded by expressing severe confusion as I had no recollection of this occurring. I even checked my phone's call history to make sure that I had not received a call on the date they mentioned. My call history for that day was empty, so I wasn't losing my mind after all.

Later that day I got the final plot twist, as the next email from the debt collector confessed that they had interpreted the writing from Ikea improperly and that Ikea had tried to call me, but that the phone number was apparently incorrect. After that they had sent the bill to me. Because at this point it was overwhelmingly clear that I had acted properly and that Ikea had been severely negligent, I got offered to just transfer the original amount for the order to their account so that the case could be closed. I was more than happy to comply with this offer.

Even though I had been on the right side of contract law during this entire (months-long) ordeal, it was still quite harrowing. The accusations made against me by Ikea (directly and indirectly) were most unpleasant, suggesting that I was essentially a thief and contract-breaker. I'm glad that in the end it worked out and that it didn't cost me more than severe frustration and some time on my side. Maybe that this experience will teach Ikea Germany something as well, something about proper procedure to follow when one wishes to change the content of a formal purchase agreement, such as the payment method.

The main problem with Ikea Germany appears to be their absence of any kind of customer service, however. Even with the payment issue now hopefully fully resolved, I am still stuck with two broken products which they still have to replace, especially now that the purchase has been finalized. This will be the next step, though I'm not sure that I'll have any other option but to head to an Ikea myself to exchange it. Considering that I also got a gift card from Ikea for my first purchase which I can only use in a physical store, I'll probably just have to bite that bullet. I'm hoping to hitch a ride with others when they head to an Ikea within the coming time.

File this one under 'I wish there was an Ikea alternative in Germany', I guess.



Coatesmoe said...

With Ikea Germany you have to call a sales number from the catalog, and ask for the Retour Abteilung and then you get the contact that you need. Otherwise going there personally with the damaged goods and the torn packaging will get results immediately.Another idea is to send an Email to the PR Department and they will also respond immediately.

Maya Posch said...

@Coatesmoe - Thank you for your response. I think that going there personally will maybe be the easiest & quickest method in this case, though I'm not sure which PR department you're referring to?

I used the official form for a 'Reklamation' request on the Ikea website. It would be nice if that was enough...