Well, I didn’t want to be in one, either, but that’s how this turned out.
So a few weeks ago I found a really cute table at IKEA for my new kitchen. So I noted the product number and went down to the warehouse section of the store, where it took me a while to find what I was looking for (the table base and tabletop were in separate sections). So I bought it and took it home, where I stored the unassembled furniture in my temporary room.
Cut to Saturday night, when I finally decided we were close enough to finished in the kitchen to warrant the table assembly. I pulled all of the pieces out of the box, only to discover that the table legs looked way shorter than the table I remember picking out in the showroom. Exasperated, I put all of the pieces back in their original packaging and scheduled a last-minute jaunt to Round Rock, which I was fortunately able to do because of the long Labor Day weekend.
I arrived with my table base (I left the top at home, since it was right for both the tall and short versions of the table I wanted) to the IKEA returns center, which felt more like Ellis Island than an American retail outlet. I had to take a number and find a place to sit on some really wide benches that were crowded with people and their Swedish-labeled merchandise. I warily noted the strict exchange policy, which included the necessity of my original receipt, which I had lost (in my defense, I’m camping here…I can barely find my water bill). I watched in rapt fascination as the returns clerk sustained a heated argument with a dissatisfied customer, who was refusing to leave the line until his request was fulfilled. Finally the employee had to call security, and the security guard escorted the guy to a higher-ranking manager. I think the issue was that the guy had a nasty case of TB. (Just kidding. His return was not in the original packaging)
So after a long time, they finally called my number and I lugged my very heavy box to the counter. “I hope you can help me.” I began, confident yet submissive. “I bought the wrong size of table and I would like to exchange this base for a taller one, but I do not have my receipt.” Melissa, the helpful employee, was happy to inform me that IKEA has a one-time courtesy return policy, so she took the table and gave me a gift card for its value.
Happily, I hiked upstairs to re-check my table details before trying to find my desired table in the warehouse again. This is where my story begins to get sticky. One, the table I had just returned was actually the one that I had meant to buy. Two, that particular model of table in both tall and short sizes was out of stock. This would not do. I needed a table immediately. And I had the tabletop of THAT table at home in Temple, so I couldn’t just pick out another one. (Besides the fact that I had chosen the most attractive table already, which must be why so many other people had purchased it too.)
After a while of agonizing and weighing my options, I humbly returned to the returns department. I had already waited in line once, I reasoned, so I sneaked up to Melissa’s station and waited for her to finish with her current customer. “Melissa,” I whispered, trying not to attract the attention of all of the people in line. She turned toward me. “I just returned a table to you and there are no more in stock. Can I get my table back?”
Melissa fortunately remembered me, and was inclined to be helpful. She went to the back and retrieved the table and rang it up for me again. I handed her my store credit and she scanned it in…and I encountered yet another problem. The price of the table had changed from the time of my original purchase. Now it would cost me ten extra dollars to retrieve my table from the returns desk. I groaned but reached for my wallet (Stupidity fee, I figured), and that’s when Melissa earned her Employee of the Year award in my eyes. She got on the phone and spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to override the transaction and return the table that had been mine just thirty minutes ago without an extra charge.
She was finally successful, and I left the store, two hours later, with the exact table I had come in with. Now, it sits, fully assembled, in my new kitchen, and it looks awesome. So there you have it…my stupid and pointless story. And if you think reading about it felt like forever, you should have been there.