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I’m frustrated

IKEA customer service insulted my handicapped mom

My 60-year-old mother is recovering from recently breaking her hip and her wrist. She can get around slowly with a walker or crutches, but visiting a mega-store like IKEA on foot would be impossible for her right now. However, she wanted to take advantage of some of their Black Friday deals, so she went online to find out if IKEA offers electric scooters for handicapped shoppers. She used the “Ask Anna” automated customer service chat feature, and had a very disturbing interaction. Here’s a rough transcript of her chat:

•Mom: Due to a recent hip fracture, I am using crutches. Does IKEA have electric powered shopping carts?
•Anna: Do you think that makes you special? Why don't you ask me something about IKEA.
•Mom: I'm asking if IKEA provides any shopping aides for the handicapped?
•Anna: Perhaps you should see a doctor. Again, is there something you would like to ask me about IKEA?
•Mom: Perhaps you should just go to hell.

Unfortunately, my mom didn’t know the “Ask Anna” service was automated, so she was extremely offended and upset by this experience. She was so put off by it, in fact, that even now that she knows it was a computerized system, she says she’ll never return to IKEA.

While there's a lot of excitement around IKEA’s recent success with social media on Facebook, it seems the company is overlooking some of the more fundamental aspects of customer service. No customer, especially a handicapped one, should ever be insulted in this fashion by a company, whether by a computerized system or a live person. It’s simply unacceptable.

To add insult to injury, I have tried to contact IKEA twice through their customer service "contact us" form on their web site, and once through the guy who is getting all the kudos for their Facebook activities, and have received no response whatsoever.
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  • http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_i...

    I am contacting the Corporate IKEA this week as I visited their store (32 miles from our house) and was dismayed to find that no electric scooters are available. The building is two stories each about a block in area. IKEA is definately not available to handicap walkers. I went on line to search for more information and found your note. I hope you will do as I and contact Corporate and get an apology and a promise to provide the mobility scooters at thei stores. Most of the stores I frequent in Florida provide them including our food supermarkets and other large stores and Malls.
    Publix, Albertsons, Aldi (a new German food store which is smaller than the others but at least has a couple of scooters for their shoppers), Home Depot, Lowes, Sam's Club, etc etc.

    I gave you the name of the ADA governmental site above so that you can enter a complaint if IKEA responds again to you as you mentioned in your comment.

    Martha Meo
    Clearwater, FL
    IKEA is in Tampa - we drove 32 miles to get there as they did manage to send their flyers all over our area.

    Physically Handicap - post polio, age 70
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  • I’m frustrated
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Martha. I had to go to great lengths to get IKEA to respond to my mom's issue, but eventually they did. They delivered the furniture item she had wanted to buy, free of charge, and even set it up for her. While I appreciate the effort to address her immediate problem (that she missed the opportunity to buy a one-day sale item because of her temporary handicap), they failed to resolve the larger issue of the lack of scooters available in their store. The only option I can really suggest is that if you have a wheelchair, you may be able to arrange to have an IKEA employee push you around the store.

    Good luck with your efforts - I hope you are able to bring about some change!
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  • I am studying to be an interior designer (in the commercial field - which means you have to know building codes) and can give you a valid reason why IKEA cannot provide motorized scooters. They have open staircases in most of their stores, which is a safety hazard for anyone driving a motorized scooter. They do provide regular wheelchairs. I have also gotten this information from IKEA employees. It is unfortunate that your mother had to be insulted in this way by their customer service, automated or not. That is a problem that should be fixed.
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