After 30 years of living with our horrible kitchen furniture we decided to splash out and replace bits of it. Having had reasonable results with Ikea stuff in the past (several bookcases and one or two "Casualty Corner" items at knockdown prices including a new microwave for £19) we paid them a visit.
The main difficulty for a novice is understanding the principles behind the various kitchen displays, but after a few hours it had all dropped into place. The learning process wasn't helped by Ikea staff at Southampton who were slipshod or undertrained or probably both?
Basically the framework onto which doors and drawer fittings are screwed is pretty much bog standard. Prices are chiefly a function of the quality of the doors, drawer fronts and fittings. As the framework of the cupboards hasn't really changed over 50 years, our 30 year old framework will not need replacing. Maybe a few modifications here and there and some careful measuring as there isn't a universal set of pre-drilled holes in our old units. So our exercise is mainly to buy new doors and handles etc.
This is not a straightforward job because our old units are all either 100cm or 50cm wide. Modern stuff is 80cm, 60cm and 40cm. Thankfully, depth is the same (60cm) as is the height (80cm).
The first step was to replace a worn out set of drawers with a nice new set. We decided on a nice 80cm unit and a 40cm unit.
After plodding around the showroom for an hour we'd decided on the finish of the doors and drawer fronts. Almost top of their range so not cheap. Armed with a brochure and the code number of the finished items we approached a Sales person. It seems you have to go through a Sales person who methodically types into a computer all the requisite information. This is transmitted to the warehouse on the ground floor and after paying you can collect your trolley load.
After waiting a short time the items appeared and I was asked to sign a note and off we went to load up the campervan. A very useful vehicle in which we also go on camping trips, collect cement, fence posts and timber etc etc (not to mention a couple of house clearances).
Once home I started assembly. The precision of the drillings is first class and all the parts were well packed and unblemished. The only problem was two cupboard doors were 60 x 40 instead of 40 x 60. This meant that the oak grain was wrong by 90 degrees and the hinge holes were in the wrong place so no chance of making them fit. So, no choice but to get them changed. I rang Ikea to confirm this was the best solution and discovered that Ikea don't answer their phones, unless you're willing to hang on for at least 30 minutes. I tried several combinations of numbers with the same result, apart from one recorded message informing anyone that wasn't happy should return to the store.
A drive of over 20 miles each way and giving up (at least) a whole morning was inevitable. Being self employed meant loss of income and upset customers.
Explaining our predicament to the Returns person was delayed somewhat because only one, or intermittently two desks of the four were manned and a ticketing system informed me I was number 95 and had to wait 6 minutes (which turned out to be optimistic).
What followed was a non-commital reply to my question about the undermanning of desks and an offer of a free lunch, and then two free lunches because my wife was driving, plus a card for £10 to cover petrol costs was agreed. No recompense for loss of income however (which is by far my biggest loss). I looked for Ikea's terms and conditions but failed to find them. I suppose they're there somewhere but not that easy to uncover. I'll be interested in consequential loss if it's mentioned in respect of an Ikea error. Many years ago Plessey (my old employer) had a big problem. We'd ordered a custom designed stove enamelled cabinet from a major company. The cabinet was about 6 feet high and accommodated lots of 19 inch racks. Our fitters had added lots of equipment and our wiremen had installed a comprehensive wiring loom. We'd used masking tape to avoid damage to the corners and sharp edges in transit and handling but when this was removed by the customer the tape had removed the stove enamelling making the cabinet scrap.
Of course the supplier said he'd replace the cabinet, but what about the hundred hours or so of fitting and wiring plus the cost of anything that was unusable (such as cables etc) in the replacement cabinet? After a long argument Plessey were recompensed for the consequential losses. I'll have to study the Ts & Cs and see if they cover consequential loss and also to see if the Ts & Cs are unreasonable.
Sorry to digress... but after a wait we were able to pack the new doors in our car boot and then return for our free lunches and to spend our credit note.
Maybe more cupboard doors and some more kitchen bits and pieces would be a good idea... now that we can understand the parts catalogue I suggested to my better half? So, after a rather nice lunches costing £17.70, but free and gratis to disgruntled kitchen door customers, we headed off to the Kitchen Department for the second time in three days.
We picked out what we wanted and tackled a Sales person. Not the same one as two days earlier I might add, and I read out the parts I'd ringed in the catalogue. He typed away and after each item I suggested the brochure price in case he'd made an error. All were confirmed and after we'd paid headed off to collect our second trolleyload.
Well over an hour later a check on the electronic board, and our order was shown to be in progress but not ready yet. I sat down to wait and idly glanced at the printed receipt. Hang on.. one of the doors is wrong... It should be 60 x 80 but it's only 60 x 60.
I trotted over to the Collection persons computer terminal and explained the error. You'll have to take it to Returns she said... I looked round and Returns customers were backing out the door. I refuse to wait I said and suggested she should pop through into the warehouse and ask them to swap the wrong door for the proper one? I explained this sort of error had happened two days ago and it was for that reason I was here today.
Eventually, having been complained to for long enough, I was placed at the front of the Returns customers queue. I explained the problem, and just then the Collection person wheeled up my trolley, extracted the wrong door and handed it to the Returns person. I was asked to pay an extra £6. I asked if the sum could be waived as I was now running late and it was the second error in a couple of days but he refused. I said I couldn't manage another lunch so I wouldn't press for that again and paid up £6. By then it was 30 minutes after I'd arrived in the Collection/Returns area. The Returns person said I'd now have to wait while the order was processed. How long will that be? About 10 minutes he said. I suggested from the number of orders on their electronic board that 10 minutes was a bit optmistic and I wasn't happy. He said he'd make it "Priority". The order number disappeared from the board and reappeared with an asterisk. It took about ten minutes anyway and we set off after something like 40 minutes. Fortunately our car parking card was accepted because I understand the period before it's cancelled is 45 minutes after being verified by the Till person.
I suppose the moral of this story is ALWAYS triple check anything that an Ikea person does, especially if it's an Ikea Kitchen Department person at the Southampton branch.
Counting up the old 30 year old doors we still have about 12 to go.... groan...
I fitted the 60 x 80 door on an old 100cm carcass. As luck would have it the door was too big and the lower hinge would be in the cut-off area for the plinth and was also clashing with the lower shelf. The solution was not easy. The lower shelf was fastened to the sides by those steel pins and because the unit was supporting adjacent units I had to cut through the four pins with my reciprocating saw. This enabled me to lower the shelf by resting it on two pieces of 50 x 75mm timber. I then had to fill the old plinth recesses with pieces of wood secured to the frame. The Ikea hinges then fitted and the first door satisfactorily hung.
Next, I'll fit the 60cm x 80cm door (the 40cm plus the 60cm making up the 100cm width of the old carcass. Now I've worked out the solution I'll fit another four sets of double doors. I think that this time I'll place my order over the Internet then I'll have only myself to blame if I make an error.
The postman just delivered two parcels.
One contained some spare parts for my new Ikea drawers because the thread on the plastic adjusters had stripped.. because somebody producing the instructions had forgotten the extra part on the 80cm drawers that prevented the adjusters being used (without stripping their threads).
The second contained 5 printed circuit boards from out-of-order lifts from the Ikea store in Nottingham..