Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Great Playroom Announcement and the Ikea gift card story

Aside from the kitchen area, the first floor of our house mainly consists of a large family/living room and an average sized dining room. Both rooms have hardwood floors. This became a bit of a disaster when the girls were learning to walk. We tried to cover the family room floor with area rugs and number mats and it was just a mess so we had inexpensive carpet installed in that room. And inexpensive it was.

Our house is not really decorated at all. We moved here when the girls were babies and basically just filled it with essentials. There is a small table in the dining room for the girls to use but otherwise, we do not use our dining room. Because of the doorways and furniture placement, it is kind of an awkward set-up and not very comfortable.

Our original "plan" was to rip up the carpet when the girls were 3, 4, 5 years old (we didn't have an exact age) and then convert half of the family room into a more permanent play area. Now that we are just about at that point, I realize that converting that space to a play area would mean that essentially our entire family room would continue to be the play room. And the dining room would continue to be a mainly unused room.

When we looked at this house prior to purchasing it, the original owners had formal dining room furniture in the dining room and then a more casual kitchen table in the back part of the family room. I presented the brilliant idea to Rich of moving our dining room to the back part of the family room and converting the dining room to a play room. We will also move a cabinet out of the kitchen to make room for the girls' table.

As if we don't have enough to do!

The first part of the playroom conversion was to look for some storage units. I found some great ones on the Ikea website so on Sunday afternoon, off we went to visit the store armed with a gift card from my brother. Now the gift card was a few years old but did NOT have an expiration date.

I never remember why I don't shop there more often until I visit the store and then I remember. It is a massive maze designed to entrap you for hours on end. It probably took us 15 minutes just to get from the van into the area of the store with the storage units. And since we don't shop there, it took additional time to figure out how and where to pick up our selected items from the self service area.

My annoyance really kicked in when I realized that there was only one green bin left in the self service area. I needed six. And of course, there are no employees in sight and we've already been in the store for an hour longer than I had wanted to be so I had to take white instead. We proceeded to the check-out line. When the cashier swiped the gift card, a notice came up on the register. CONTACT CALL CENTER.

She handed the card back to Rich and nonchalantly said, "It must not be activated. You need to call the call center." Yeah, I don't think so. So I told her that it was activated and she needed to swipe it again or figure something out because I was not going to go home and call the call center. If she could have rolled her eyes, I'm sure she would have. She then tried to type the card number in. CONTACT CALL CENTER. She hands the gift card back and says, "You need to call them."

So now I am really annoyed. I ask if they have a customer service desk. She points to the side of the building. Yeah, the sign reads RETURNS & EXCHANGES not CUSTOMER SERVICE. I'm convinced that this is done on purpose.

While I was waiting to speak to an employee, I see Rich talking to another employee over near the line. He had canceled our purchase and was waiting to see if I was going to have any luck with "customer service." Yeah, no luck. This employee gave me the same song and dance. I read the back of the card while I was waiting and it said to check your balance, etc, etc call the call center or visit any of our stores. I threw this back in her face. "Read the back of the card. It's says to visit one of our storess. I'm visiting one of the stores. This needs to be taken care of." Finally, I had to ask to speak to her manager.

The same guy who had been talking to Rich earlier came over to assist us. He was fantastic. What amazed me about the whole process was that neither of those two women were apologetic or even cared one bit about our issue. They had no idea why the message to call the call center kept popping up and would only say that the card probably wasn't activitatd. They had no idea what the call center would even do. And they didn't care.

The manager told us that he found out that the call center message pops up when there is an older gift card, which ours was. He pulled out a cell phone and called the call center. The phone number on the card wasn't even a correct phone number and he was directed to another number. As suspected, because the gift card was old, the strip on the back couldn't be read by the store's machines.

After all was said and done, we were issued a new gift card. I don't know if this would have happened had we called in ourselves. I would like to think so but given the fact that the entire process took FOREVER, I don't know.

Persistence pays off. And we ended up wasting time in that store.

So after the manager gave us a replacement gift card (I figured I would be pushing my luck if I asked for an extra $10 for the hassle), Rich had to go back in line and pay for our purchases. While the girls and I were waiting for him, a baby crawling around kept us entertained. Her mother walked past and yelled, "Triplets! Identical triplets! They are identical, right?" For some reason, I always find it interesting when complete strangers can tell that they are identical right away.

Alright, I will post before and after pictures of The Ultimate Playroom. And I know that I haven't yet posted pictures of the girls' rooms. Yeah, not finished yet. I'm telling you that if someone would remove my children from the premises for twelve hours or so, I could get sooooo much done. But then I wouldn't get to see their cute little faces.


Colleen said...

Can't wait to see it! That's one of my big gripes too. I have decorated some areas but not others and it frustrates me that I do not have the time to get to it. 3 years later!

Julia said...

Good luck with decorating, it is such a good feeling to really "own" your space.

I can always tell when multiples are identical. What actually amazes me here is the huge number of moms who think their kids are not identical because they were in separate sacs or placentas.

Jacinta said...

Well done on sticking to your guns! I despise Ikea for all the reasons you've listed and I have complained so many times.
The experience is crap the world over! At least they are consistent!

The Super Bean said...

Cannot wait to see pics.
We love IKEA over here. There are a few things I would change, but they have the coolest furninture and stuff for the best prices. If you go there more often, you figure out ways to get it all done faster. Self-service and self-check-out and stuff like that. I know our IKEA's floorplan by heart.:-)

Amy said...

What a hassle! Can't wait to see play room pics though.

(Btw, I had better experiences at the Ikea in Taiwan than in the US.)

Cat said...

I'm excited that you're going to post pictures! I'd love to see it.

We used to have a formal dining room. Now the nice antique furniture is wrapped up and stuck in the office and the room has been overrun with toys and high chairs. We got a bunch of foam tiles from SoftTiles and they're fantastic! We bought only what we needed, didn't have to buy a specific set, and they're 1/4" thicker than the tiles you get elsewhere. My knees love them. We've also repurposed the liquor cabinet and a bookshelf into diaper and toy storage, respectively. It's worth it to have a safe room for them to play.

Liz said...

We bought the Trofast system from Ikea for our playroom. LOVE it! Sounds like that might be what you got too.... Can't wait to see the photos!

Jenn said...

Ikea has terrible customer service. We bought some furniture and were supposed to get a gift card. The cashier refused to give us the gift card and said the items we purchased weren't part of the deal. The employee at customer service said the same thing. I went upstairs, took down the sign that was on display and carried it downstairs before they would give me the gift card and they looked pissed because I took the sign down..oh well you should have listened to me in the first place.