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2005-11-04: We went to Leeds' Ikea yesterday. What a bleak prospect that was. We swore we'd never go again, but Ali needed a corner office desk and lamp and that seemed the most likely place. We managed to get there at about 7pm yesterday (a Thursday).
We went to the loo at the entrance, and I swear to you there was a noose hanging from the ceiling in there (well, OK it was a good loop of rope without the necessary knot, but it looked pretty tempting to me).
First of all, the place was filthy and the products were mostly broken. We tried about five tables in the canteen before we found one we could sit at without getting stuck to. One lamp I was looking at, the aluminium tubing it was made from was not just dirty, it was filthy filthy, rolls of filth if you scrape it with your fingernail filthy. The drawer in a rolltop desk had just broken and was left like that. Many knobs and handles had fallen off. One bedside cabinet had a cupboard door that had no inner stop so the door could never really settle into place .. I've no idea whether it was supposed to be like that or not. None of the office chairs' wheels turned because they were so clagged up with dust.
We wanted some clip lights to clip to a bedhead for reading, but, as my partner said "you don't really want them to be £1.99 do you?" Cheap, flimsy, horrible.
They've changed the system for getting your goods. Only one desk actually fitted in our space, and then we realised .. they may not actually have it in stock. I read the 'how to buy' instructions and didn't understand them. You had to go to a sales desk. We were right next to an information point. Were they the same? I'd have said not and walked out never having found one, but Ali pressed on. Our desk was a big item, big items are in a different building. The assistant would place our order, we pay for it at the checkout, then we drive around to the Eternal Warehouse where our item is waiting for us.
I thought that would replace the method where you have to get your car and drive to the collection point near the checkout because they won't let you out with your trolley, but no, there's that too. So there's queueing at the canteen, queueing at the checkout, the pickup point, and then they've introduced the Eternal Warehouse which seems to be based on that other major soul-sucking experience, Argos.
They haven't got your stuff ready at all. They don't do anything about it until you arrive, so you sit with another twenty people in a fluorescent humbox with spartan benches waiting for something to happen. I read the wall posters about delivery. One showed a map with increasingly large and differently coloured radiuses from the shop. Interestingly, it reached Scarborough. Good. The other poster showed a grid of prices with columns labelled A-D, and two rows, one for orders above £750 (I think), and one for those under that value. There was no link. Does A = red? Does anyone here actually think about the user experience? A bloke announced "White?" "What colour are we?" I asked Ali. "No, that's his surname" she said.
So, having put all our small things in the car at the pickup area, along with all our other shopping, the only thing to do was to put the biggest, heaviest thing on top. Good thinking.
Ali has a theory. We are all born with a full soul, but each time we go to Ikea, a part of our soul is taken from us. When you get to the pearly gates, they check you still have enough soul left to be let through. We don't know what the threshold is until we get there. Our neighbour's never been to Ikea. He's the lucky one.
Update: see what happened a few years later

By John Allsopp
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