Monday, August 27, 2012

Ikea Customer Service-A Nightmare

Much as I couldn't stop raving about Ikea's amazing collection and fabulous designs, I must admit that their customer service sucks.

After being mooney-eyed about their furniture, I bought a whole bunch of stuff. We opted for home delivery service. The goods arrived on the promised date. However, the delivery guys were so careless that they ended up scratching the walls while taking the mattress into the bedroom. To make matters worse, they forgot one package. They were not even willing to check the number of items they need to deliver. We had to go through the list and remind them of the missing package. And this was only the beginning of our troubles.

We called the Ikea customer care number and the IVR put us on hold for almost 20 minutes. As soon as  you dial in, an automated response tells you that all the agents are busy and that the wait time is 15-20 minutes. If this was a one off case, I wouldn't mind. But this happens every single time I try calling them. If you know that at any given time, more customers than you can handle need assistance, as  a business it is only natural for you to fulfill your duty of providing additional agents to provide support.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, we finally spoke to a rep who said that they would be conducting a ware house wide search and would deliver the item in 7 days. I wouldn't have complained if this was the case. But 7 days passed and nothing happened. I called them again. This time they told me that an agent would call me the next day at 10 am. If they don't I should contact a particular extension. As expected no one called the next day. I tried the extension and it went to the voicemail box . I left a message requesting for a call back. Again, nothing happened. I tried the next day-no result.

Now, I thought of trying their online chat. This turned out to be worse than the telephone experience. The chat just wouldn't connect. I kept getting the message that all agents are busy and I need to try later. After a couple of hours (I'm not kidding!) of trying, I finally got through only to be told that they apologize for the delay and they they would arrange for a call back as soon as possible. What do you think happened? Nothing.

And here I am with no place to sit despite shelling out $300 for a sofa as I'm unable to assemble it without the missing part. I have no idea when my misery will end!

UPDATE: Many phone calls, twitter & FB posts and consumer complaints later, the item finally arrived!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Furniture, furniture and some more

Much as setting up a house is challenging and hectic, it sure is a very enjoyable and exciting process. Having moved to a new country with nothing except our clothes, we have this task of making our newly rented apartment into our home.

What better place to begin furniture shopping other than Ikea? Now, I'd heard about Ikea, looked at their online catalogue but when I visited their store, boy, was I blown away? The sheer size of the store was something I couldn't get over. It was as if I stepped into furniture heaven. We went on a weekend and there is no need for me to tell you how crowded it was. 

Braving the crowds, we ventured from one section to the other. I was greedily eying ever piece of furniture and secretly wishing I could own some of them. As soon as I'd oogled enough at one object and moved to the next aisle, my heart would swoon once again. The designs, the arrangement and combinations with other pieces to form a complete set were beyond perfect. 

Armed with a pencil and blank shopping list provided at the entrance, we moved strolled through each section, noting the name, model number and price of the items we liked. The list kept growing. We finally managed to zero in on a coffee table, dining table and chairs, a sofa and a night stand. I thought we were done. And then we came to the first floor. An even bigger collection of household stuff. Curtains, cutlery, crockery, bathroom essentials, garden supplies-you name it and they have it. I was very impressed with the low prices too.

However, as we had to take a bus and a train to reach home, we could only buy so much. My kitchen looks so much better with those brown bowls and matching plates that I picked up there. 

I know for sure where I'm going to spend this weekend!

P.S: This is not a sponsored post :)

An evening at the museum

It has been a week since I arrived in this new country. Apart from the places I mentioned in my previous post, I didn't get a chance to get out of the house much. So when V asked me if I'd be interested to go to the museum in Stanford University, I was more than delighted.

I took the Caltrain (my first ride alone!) to Palo Alto where I met V and then we took the Marguerite shuttle (a free shuttle service provided by Stanford, which I think is pretty cool). The shuttle dropped us at the campus oval from where we walked up to the Cantor Arts Center which is the museum.

As soon as we entered, we checked in our bagpack and we were handed a map of the museum. The friendly guide offered to make some suggestions on how we should approach covering the museum. It was divided into different sections-Asian, American, Italian, Greek etc.

Pottery, sculptures, paintings, photographs from different eras some as early as 400 BC were on display. Each section had its own unique regional flavor and it makes one think that even after the rolling over of centuries, there is a common thread running between all artifacts in any given section.  Although the techniques and materials used have evolved with time, the core remains unchanged.

There are a few sections where the exhibits keep changing. In one such section, the exhibit on display was called 'La Caricature.' It displayed the original caricatures that appeared in the immensely popular journal of political satired 'La Caricature.' I was amazed at the witty and strong messages in caricature. I  thoroughly enjoyed this one. Some of my other favorites were 'Guardian' photography collection, Greek sculptures and paintings.

The museum is very well organized and as mentioned earlier, grouped into several different sections. This makes it easy for the visitor to chose and visit the section of their liking. Each exhibit is accompanied by a detailed note about the artist, time period and the inspiration behind it. I found it very useful especially because I'm not very good with history. Also, since I've no idea about art, these notes served as an excellent medium to educate me.

Unfortunately, we only had 2 hours as the museum closes at 8 pm on Thursdays. So we couldn't manage to look through everything. But we are definitely visiting again.

We then strolled down to the Palo Alto downtown, had some Greek food and then headed home. An evening well spent!

What: Cantor Arts Center
Where: Stanford University Campus, Palo Alto
When: Wednesday-Sunday 11 am-5 pm
            Thursday 11 am-8 pm
Admission: Free

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hello, Amreeka!

As you can guess from my blog name, I've just recently moved to Sunnyvale, CA. This blog would be a sort of a journal for all my experiences in this new city. As is the case with any new place, I'm sure there are lots of nice places to be explored, cuisines to be tasted and friends to be made. I'm really excited about this new phase of my life and look forward to enjoying this experience thoroughly.

Let me start at the beginning-my flight. unlike the two earlier visits, this time I flew with British Airways instead of Cathay Pacific. And needless to say I regretted it deeply. The hospitality, food and service was way below the high standards of Cathay. And there was an hours delay which was even more annoying. Anyways seeing V after what was 36 days but seemed like 36 years was well worth all the trouble. To my surprise, I was greeted with this-a very sweet welcome indeed!

We then left for our new apartment. I was almost sure the excitement and curiosity of seeing it would kill me before I actually reached there. I'm glad I managed to survive. One look at the house and I knew that I was in love. I'll do a separate post with more details about the house with pictures. For now it's enough to say that my new house is my new favorite place on earth :)

2 days of jet lag followed but that was in no way stopping me from heading out. On Saturday, we decided to go to Target and buy a few household items. (I had already made list of these things when I woke up at 3 am and had nothing else to do.) Before I proceed I must mention that both V and I don't drive. So we depend on the public transport which isn't very great. The buses, unlike in India, run on very limited routes, have a frequency of one bus per hour and the last bus runs only until 7 pm or so. This is going to be a very big challenge for me as I have great plans of going around the city but have no reliable mode of transportation. Having established this important fact, let me move forward. We took the bus to Sunnyvale Caltrain station and were pleasantly surprised to see a Farmers market at Murphy avenue. Now I had never seen a farmer's market in the US. Sure I'd been to many such markets in India but in US it was a new thing for me. Unlike the supermarkets and malls that i was used to seeing in US, this was very impressive. the entire place was buzzing with activity-farmers selling fresh fruits and vegetables, people dressed in colorful, summery clothes, street artists playing the guitar, banjo and singing. it was a very lively scene. Unfortunately, i did nt have my camera to capture this beauty.

On either side of the street were numerous restaurants, cafes and bars-food for every taste, pocket and preference. A little ahead was a row full of street food-again variety at its best. We decided to check out an Italian restaurant-forgot the name just as the food was quite forgettable.

Shopped around for a bit in Target and then my jet lag kicked in. We went back home and that was pretty much the end of Saturday.

Sunday we went to Ikea-ofcourse we took the train and a bus to get there. The place is every bit worth the hype surrounding it. I had already seen the catalogue but was blown away by the designs and furniture arrangements. I noted down all the stuff I wanted and decided we would come back later when we have a proper mode of transportation. The place although very crowded was a heaven especially for anyone who is setting up a new home. Every piece of furniture made me think 'Oh, this would really be nice to have.'

Post the weekend, I haven't gone out much except for some grocery shopping at Bharat Bazar at the corner of the street. I was very happy to find dosa batter and this is what I made for dinner last night-yummy!

This is already a very long post. I'll save the rest for my next blog.