Monday, August 12, 2013

Fire Breathing Toaster: Ikea, Buy a Computer

by Bill Adler

Dear Ikea,

Buy a computer. Please.

You see, I have a wait problem. So did lots of other people who stood for 45 minutes in the line at your store to schedule a delivery time. Really, standing in line for 3/4 of an hour just to schedule a time to have furniture delivered?

And yet in this age of modern miracles, where one can search for and plan a trip around the world from one's phone, where somebody can search for, customize and buy a suit in between the time when you make your morning coffee and it's cool enough to drink, and where you can actually schedule an appointment for a car inspection with the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles, Ikea still makes you wait in line to schedule a furniture delivery.

As I stood in line last Friday, a sleepy end of the week in August, I thought I'd be clever and call your 800 number to schedule a delivery time. After all, my receipt said "Full Service," meaning this order was planned to be a delivery. No joy. The person behind me in line went online on his phone, looking for a way to schedule a delivery via Nope, no luck there either. So we waited. And waited. `

There was a kiosk with a terminal set up for customer suggestions, an electronic suggestion box. How wonderful it would have been if instead of a suggestion box, that terminal actually let you -- well, you know how this sentence ends.

While it's not specifically part of this suggestion, I'd like to add that prior to standing in the line to schedule a delivery time, there were two other lines that I, and all customers, had to endure: The (mercifully short) line to talk to a clerk to write up the order, and the (not so short) line at the cashier to check out.

The worst kind of line is the line you don't expect. That was the delivery scheduling line.

I understand that a lot of people who are scheduling delivery actually have their merchandise in tow, and that they need to have it removed from their trolleys, inventoried, organized and tagged before somebody can deliver it. That's why it takes about 10 minutes per customer --if they have their purchases with them-- to complete the delivery scheduling process. But then there are others, like me and the guy behind me, who just want to schedule a delivery. We don't have couches and beds that need to be hoisted off of our trolleys.

You know what, Ikea? You can have somebody with a handheld, wireless tablet scheduling deliveries while people are standing in line. Or not. Any old computer will do the trick.


Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets,", "Outwitting Squirrels," , and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. Fire Breathing Toaster is published on Mondays.

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