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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So Easy, Even A Chimp Can Do It

When I was a kid, I hung out with my dad in the garage a lot and helped him put together the wooden chair kits that he always seemed to be assembling because someone had outgrown the high chair.  My helping really amounted to sanding the chair parts before he put them together and then varnished them.   I think I picked up whatever mechanical ability I have from him.  The big difference is that where I read carefully, and adhere faithfully to the enclosed instructions, Dad would put something together and then read the instructions to see if he did it right. But I learned a lot about putting things together from watching him, and I've used his method of clamping something together with a length of rope and a screwdriver on more than one occasion.  Pop was good at improvising, and I was usually around to help.

I've been wanting this kitchen island that IKEA has and we came back from the store without one Sunday.  Yesterday morning's check on Groland's availability indicated that they had six units.  They were in! So Steve drove me all the way back to IKEA yesterday afternoon to buy me the kitchen island that I want so very much.  Today I started to put it together, and all was going well until Step 8 in the instructions.  I don't know if you've ever put something together using IKEA's instructions, but they do them all pictorially, so that anyone, in any country can understand how to put them together.  I'm convinced that if chimps had opposable thumbs, even they could do it.

However, if one of the pieces of hardware is defective, they might take as much time as I did to figure that out.  Honestly, I fiddled with the second long bolt and nut to go in for thirty minutes to no avail before taking them both out and checking on them.  It appeared that the threading on the end was not quite right.  I checked the other six of each and the rest were fine.  So it was only one that I had to replace.

I went to, and asked their so-called live help diva named Anna for help.  Actually, that's not fair.  They say that Anna is "IKEA USA's Automated Online Assistant", but then they anthropomorphized it with a picture of a girl in an IKEA polo shirt and headphones, so I got confused.  If I'd noticed that it was an automated online assistant, I would have known it would be just as helpful as Microsoft's Office Assistant.  My interaction with Anna went something like this:

Me: How can I get another part 110700?

Anna:  If you say so.


Me:  What kind of response is that?

Anna:  I'm sorry you feel that way.

Me: You're useless.

Anna:  Is there anything else you'd like to know about IKEA?

Yes- I'd like to know how far down the IT outsourcing rabbit hole (India? China?)  IKEA had to go to get this enlightened bit of programming done and just how much money they saved doing it.   An interactive program just intuitive enough to be wholly annoying but not intuitive enough to actually help. 

Then I searched the website for what to do about missing or damaged parts.  Under missing pieces/hardware, it said to bring your receipt and assembly instructions to the store and talk to them about what you need.  Okay- I'd just driven all the way down there twice in one week to get the darn island- I wasn't about to drive there again to get a bolt.  So I called the store phone number and managed to get a live person at the end of their automated attendant maze.

They were very nice. And helpful.  I told Sondra what happened and that I needed them to send me another one.  She just needed my receipt number and the part number which I gave her, and then she took my name and address, and gave me a confirmation number, and said that I should have it in a week.  When a few minutes after getting off the phone with her and figuring out that the nut got messed up as well, I called back, and gave Nicole my confirmation number and asked if she could add part number 100508 to the package, and she said no problem.   Great.

I managed to get most of the bottom of the island put together, but until I receive the new bolt and nut, I can't finish it.  IKEA's instructions don't say anything about gluing things together, but they supplied me with eight fluted dowels and eight corresponding holes, and being a woodworker from way back, if I see a fluted dowel and a hole, I just gotta get out the glue.

So this is the bottom of the island, almost done, but in the absence of the needed bolt and nut, I'm holding the glued corner together with a couple of gallons of water slung together with some twine sort of milkmaid style and a large jug of liquid laundry detergent.

 Notice the bottle of glue to the left...

Not exactly MacGyver, but I think my dad would have approved.


Miriam said...

I can't believe you actually got a real live IKEA person to agree to mail you a missing part - that's a first for me!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Ha ha ha....your conversation with "Anna" made me laugh out loud. Good thing you got the persistence gene and got through to a live body or you'd be tantruming ineffectually somewhere in a corner.

For the record, though? IKEA gives me hives. Hate the place. :-)

Toni aka irishlas said...

We always called using what was on hand "greek ingenuity".
I'm amazed you got a live person also!

Paula said...

Miriam- well, yes, I did get through to someone (twice!) but we'll see if I really get the part..

Danni- I'm curious why it gives you the hives- maybe I should look at it in a different light. Do tell.

Toni- the French have a wonderful word for construction using what's on hand. It's called 'bricolage'. Isn't that fun? I'll post whether or not I get the bolt. Getting the live person was the first hurdle- getting the island put together is the second. Thanks for the offer of borrowed Sheltie but 1) I wouldn't subject a dog to a plane's cargo hold if I could help it, 2) you probably wouldn't get her back- I'm a little dog starved right now, and 3) I know you're only kidding!