Review of "Ikea"
It’s taking over. No home is safe. If you haven’t already got an item of furniture from IKEA, you will soon. It’s a virus and you are particularly vulnerable on bank holiday weekends, like this one!I joke, but is there no street in the UK where IKEA hasn’t taken hold? I myself have succumbed to this virulent form of décor. But if you haven’t already, I’ve drawn up a list of pros and cons to help you decide if you want to welcome the virus into your life or whether you want to batten down the hatches and resist.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO SUCCUMB TO THE IKEA VIRUS?
IKEA is cheap and cheerful, when you compare it to other equivalent furniture stores. The reason it is so cheap is because it specialises in flat-packed furniture that you assemble yourself. This means that the store doesn’t need to pay for anyone to assemble it and you do the work yourself. For value for money, IKEA is the top dog. For example, we needed a toilet roll holder and they sell a sleek metal one for £2. Typically, as I’ll discuss later, they’d run out completely. So, we ended up buying exactly the same style from Homebase for £22.99. Big saving at IKEA, I think you’ll agree.
(2) CHILD FRIENDLY
IKEA caters well for children. They have crèches, with funky looking pits of balls to jump into (wish I was still a child sometimes). However, unless you go on a Wednesday morning, you might have to wait to drop your kids off. When I went yesterday, the queue for the crèche was 45 minutes long. IKEA also has an excellent selection of stuff for children’s bedrooms, especially storage solutions.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO RESIST?
(1) TIRING AND OVERCROWDED
Get your trainers on, do your warm-up exercises, make sure your bladder is empty and bring along some snacks. Negotiating this store is like undertaking a military exercise. Unless you’re looking for a pot plant, IKEA is a good 2-3 hour shopping experience. Prepare yourself. And if you’re shopping with a partner, make sure you’re loved up and there isn’t an argument brewing. Too many times has hunger, tiredness and irritability turned into squabbling and we’ve left without purchasing what we came into get. Oh, and by the way, on the weekends it is very crowded!
Someone once told me that when you start furbishing your first house, you go to IKEA. As you get a bit more money, you progress to Habitat. With a bit more cash in the bank, you can head to Heals. And when you really are raking in the dosh, you progress to the Conran Shop. What I’m trying to say here is that IKEA have cornered the market for modern, value-for-money furniture. The flip side of this is that every other house is full of IKEA stuff. A few months ago we went house-hunting, and looked at 45 one bedroom flats in London. I’d say 30 of these were mainly furbished with IKEA stuff. I can’t tell you how boring it became after a while. We were so happy to view a flat with character and individuality (i.e. didn’t have IKEA furniture).
(3) THINGS ARE OFTEN NOT AVAILABLE
If you are going to IKEA with one item in mind to buy, try to call beforehand to check it is in store. I’ve lost count of the number of items I’ve wanted and got to the relevant section and surprise, surprise, they’re out of stock. I think it is because they don’t want to pay for extra storage space at the back, so they don’t keep massive surplus stocks on site. But, if you don’t have easy access to a car and have travelled quite a way for a specific item, it is rip-you-hair-out-frustrating. I admit to nearly throwing a childish sulk when they had run out of the cabinet we wanted. I think I even stamped my foot (shame on me!)
Some of the items are available immediately and you can leave once you’ve paid for them at the check-out. But other items have to be ordered beforehand and then collected from the collection point. So once you get through the whole store, you need to take your receipt to the collection point. You then have a wait of 30-60 minutes, while they get it from the depths of the warehouse. Aaah, fun and games. And if you want to get the items delivered, you’ll have to take them around to the delivery desk afterwards yourself.
(5) OUT OF TOWN
One of the ways that IKEA cuts its costs is by basing itself in large out-of-town locations. Because it sells flat-packed furniture, most people need cars to take away the products. I can see the sense in this, but as someone who doesn’t have a car and relies on public transport, this annoys me no end. To get to the nearest branch (Brent Park), I have to take two changes of public transport to Neasden and then walk for 15 minutes alongside the North Circular Road, crossing over railway lines and the major road. This is ok on the way there, but imagine struggling back with heavy furniture. It’s just not feasible, so the only alternative is home delivery or the IKEA taxi service. As I’ll mention in my next point, try to avoid the home delivery service if you can. The taxi service is well worth the money if you are thinking of spending a bit. The cost depends on where you live, for me it cost £25. They pack everything into the taxi (more like a small van), drive you and the furniture to your home, and help you offload everything.
Now, if you don’t have a big enough car or indeed a car at all, you will have to get the items delivered. We got loads of office furniture delivered at work and it was supposed to be delivered between 8am and 12am. So, lo and behold, it arrived at 8pm at night the next day. And half of it was missing. Just be warned – the IKEA delivery service is notoriously unreliable (see the Watchdog page on BBC’s website for more tales of inconvenience about IKEA delivery).
In conclusion, IKEA is immensely popular. So much so, that I’ve compared it to a virus. At first, I succumbed easily to the cheap prices and convenience, but I’m starting to regret it as I look around at some of the furniture and feel my flat has lost a sense of identity.
If you want to check out where your nearest store is, look at their website: http://www.ikea.co.uk
Product Information : Ikea
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Listed on Ciao since: 12/11/2000