IKEA and I, well, we have a love-hate relationship.
It didn’t start out that way. I loved IKEA’s fresh cinnamon rolls (in the States), its sensible attitude toward apartment-style living, and the ability to make the most out of any space.
In Shanghai, IKEA could be a source of entertainment if one was in the mood for it. Also, they deliver almost instantly, sometimes faster than you could make it home. My favorite memory goes back to last year, when I had a few items delivered to my old house flat near People’s Square.
It was a rainy day, and the delivery crew rang to say they would be at my place soon. I was watching television, and I waited for my doorbell to go off. However, over the hum of rain on the rooftop and the television, I hear a commotion outside my flat. At first, I can’t see anything as I peer out the windows. I see my neighbors’ heads poking out of their windows in the rain to also take in the commotion.
There is my IKEA delivery guy, standing in the rain, holding up his cell phone, yelling, “IKEA! IKEA! IIIIKKKKEEEEAAAA!!!!!” at all the buildings. It was very John Cusack in Say Anything. I try to shout down that I will be there in a minute to let him in (keep in mind that my Mandarin skills are sorely lacking) and race downstairs to the ground floor to let him in.
Now, everyone in the neighborhood is curiously watching me as the IKEA guys drag up the stuff to my fourth floor apartment. My downstairs neighbors come up to see what I’ve gotten, but it’s all in boxes.
So ends my Shanghai IKEA story.
Fast forward to Hong Kong.
It all started nicely. The store wasn’t too crowded. I picked up my initial “must-haves”, and I found out that they even had a version of cinnamon rolls – a nice sweet roll with chai-like spices wrapped up in fluffy, warm dough – and Daim candy bars. It had to be good, right?
My first IKEA delivery – a large sofa & sofa bed combo with installation – had me waiting at home almost all night for no delivery after the call center said they would redeliver. I had missed the initial ring due to coaching. I rang back right away, but they said it would be redelivered that night. Since I was still living on the Island, I had to leave this house and commute back in – just to do it all again the next day. Special. It took four extra days to get it redelivered and put together.
Now, my latest drama came up this past Friday. My phone chose that night of all dang nights to update its software, which froze my phone, which meant I had to update and reinstall everything. This meant two hours of no phone contact. I rang a friend, who in turn rang IKEA, to tell them I was phone-less and to deliver anyway. They said, okay.
Yep, no delivery all night. My phone was back online at 9 PM, but I didn’t get a phone call. That is, not until nearly midnight…
It goes a bit like this:
I wake at 12ish AM to my mobile ringing. The first two times I answer it, the person only speaks in Chinese. I think it’s a wrong number. On the third time ringing, I picked it up:
He shouts, “WEI, IKEA?!?”
My head explodes with the yelling voice. WTH.
“Ok, it is, like, 1 in the morning.”
Chinese being spoken.
“Wo bu shou Hanyu.”
“You can’t speak Chinese? Why can’t you speak Chinese?”
“Ohh, ni shi Meiguoren ma?”
“Yes. Wo shi Meigouren.”
“But you spoke Chinese.”
“Yi dian dian. Bu hao.”
“Okay, send picture of house. We deliver IKEA.”
“Umm…it’s near 1 AM. Or midnight. Or something. It’s too late. I just woke up again.”
“I know that. But you just woke me up. You can’t deliver now.”
“Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe another day.”
“Wo bu zhi dao. Call office. They tell us.”
Line goes dead.
I wish the tale ended there.
When I rang them up promptly the next morning to reschedule delivery, it was presumed to be a normal thing that I’d be rung up so late at night for a delivery. Then, I was told I’d be called back later. Not the case. I had to ring back in the afternoon, to find out, of course, that no delivery was available on Saturday or Sunday. I was set for 12-4 on Monday. I WORK to pay for such items, which seems to be an issue that I can’t get it during work hours.
Finally, it was set on Tuesday, between 6-10 PM. At this point, I feel like I’m dealing with a guy who says he wants a second date but can’t get his crap together and plays it cool instead. I already have to plan out nights I’m home to get things; it would just be good to actually get them when promised. Or when I’m told it’s not an issue to get them. If it is, let me know. I get it. I’ll reschedule. But I’d rather not just wait around twiddling thumbs if I can avoid it.
I guess people assume that I love having IKEA!!!!! screamed at me. Aiyoo.