Saturday, 2 June 2012

IKEA - Hell on Earth


What is it about IKEA that causes so much emotion and stress? Hated and loathed by some, the IKEA experience has reached almost cult status with a large following of worshippers in the UK. I use the term worshippers carefully and only with reference to the fact that you really to have to worship it in order to go back there.
At its recently opened store in North London 5 people ended up detained in hospital due to being crushed by crowds eager to purchase special offer bargains at midnight. Local roads were blocked and thousands turned up to take advantage of the bargains in what turned into a fiasco after the store had to close after just 30 minutes.
Just what is it about IKEA that turns people into greedy, argumentative and selfish individuals? The answer lies within the very structure of every IKEA store. Firstly, IKEA is so popular it is almost always going to be busy – unless you get up early on a Sunday morning – and even then there is no guarantee!
Lets take you through the process of a shopping trip to the Wonderland fantasy world of IKEA.
1. Get up early in the morning and drive to IKEA before it opens in an attempt to beat the rush. Traffic is not as heavy as the last time you visited but you are stuck in a queue for over 20 minutes.
2. The store opens and the crowds rush in, making straight for the little yellow bags they then hustle and jostle for the stairs. Now you are stuck in a moving throng of human bodies as you are forced to wind your way through every single department of IKEA when all you really wanted to do was visit the kitchen area. To compensate you nick a couple of their diddy little pencils for the kids.
3. The restaurant is already full, some people have found they need a break already and are busy feeding their faces in the equivalent of a motorway café for IKEA cult members. This is where you start swearing under your breath and personally promise that you will never visit IKEA again. Slightly rattled now, you begin to move through the furniture area with its neatly arranged in near perfect rows of organised clutter which is calling out to you for special attention. It is almost as if some form of subliminal messaging has taken over your mind as you imagine your bedroom transformed and adorned in IKEA glory.
4. Finally you make it to the kitchen area with its OGLAs and INGO’s from BJORKUDDEN. You realise the situation is worse than you thought it was. You are now being brainwashed into learning Swedish. Why can’t a shelf be called a shelf and a chair be called a chair for goodness sake.


5. An hour later you are nearing the check out queue. You came in for some kitchenware but you are now struggling with a flat pack JOKK, a LEKSVIK and some dodgy looking ENETRI. Your confused? You should be. After what seems like an age you finally make it past check out. Hurrah, a sigh of relief and a sinking feeling as you spot the Hot Dog stand. You have to stop at the Hot Dog stand. It’s not an option.

6. Here you are at last. The best Hot Dog outlet in town. Hot Dog Speciale for the discerning Hot Dog lover. The King of Hot Dogs. The sausages are steamed, grilled until the skin is fried and they are then placed in a succulent moist bun. Elbow to elbow and shoving for your own little space around one of those little round tables built for Elves you struggle to enjoy your Hot Dog. Ketchup and mustard is in abundance which is more than can be said for any seating. However, the Hot Dog was your reward and your one little indulgence for the grief that IKEA have put you through over the last two hours.

7. Out in the car park you struggle to squeeze your precious possessions into the back of your car. Finally, after this terrifying ordeal you arrive back home. Thank goodness you sigh. More fool you. The second ordeal now begins as you drag your goods into your home and eagerly begin the assembly. Three hours later, allen key in hand you ponder over why the door won’t fit and why you are left with 8 pieces that don’t seem to go anywhere. The manual is next to useless and there are at least 4 parts missing. Your JOKK is going nowhere. Insane anger follows and you contemplate throwing it out into the back garden. A further 30 minutes of in depth concentration and you finally crack the code and bolt the final piece into place. No thanks to the instruction manual which is a kind of Pingu without penguins. You are emotionally drained and weak from your ordeal. You suddenly hate Sweden.

A trip to IKEA is hell on earth. Why would you go there? Because it is cheap? Just how much is your sanity worth? This evil empire of Baron Ingvar Kamprad’s IKEA is addictive. You are an addict. You sit on your IKEA chair in your IKEA living room with your IKEA lighting and your IKEA soft furnishings and you pride yourself in your ability to find a bargain – but at what cost? Your little piece of Suburbia looks like everyone elses little piece of suburbia and you keep going back. Why? You cant’ afford to go elsewhere? You actually like the stuff they sell?

IKEA has done a fantastic job of manipulating the masses with its cheap products. However, there are some things about IKEA that I find disturbing. Reasons why I would never go back to this hell on earth.

First and foremost IKEA bring you cheap products and tacky goods because most are made in third world countries using child labour or near slave labour wages for the workers that actually produce the goods.

Even more chilling are reports in the news of Ingvar Kamprad’s Nazi past. The Stockholm newspaper Expressen revealed that Kamprad, owner and founder of IKEA, was involved with Nazi groups in his youth.

Ikea adverts make fun at their own company and target what they regard as stuck up designers with witty and amusing scenes to win over the general public. The marketing campaign is pure brilliance. No one can deny this. They have been very successful.

So, has any of this put you off? Probably not. You will want to go back for the Hot Dogs anyway!



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