Ikea customers in Northern Ireland who have had problems with online deliveries have complained that instead of getting customer service they are being subjected to ABBA’s greatest hits.
The unexpected intervention of the Seventies supergroup is one of many issues raised by local shoppers who have taken to internet purchases as a result of the current lockdown.
One of the most common complaints is being able to order items online — and then being told the company no longer ships to Northern Ireland.
Big names which have been delivering this message, either temporarily or permanently, since Brexit include Debenhams, Decathlon and John Lewis.
It is, however, the after-sales service which has prompted the most complaints.
Several disgruntled customers contacted the Belfast Telegraph to complain about “virtually non-existent” customer service from Swedish furniture giant Ikea whose Northern Ireland store has been closed since Boxing Day.
One told us: “I ordered a desk for home schooling with my son but it arrived damaged.
“I rang Ikea several times and each time was left on hold for over 20 minutes listening to ABBA.
“That’s all very well if you want to listen to Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen, but unacceptable when you’re trying to get a problem solved.”
The man added: “Online shopping is great when things go well but the problems begin when something like this happens. And I suspect post-Brexit it’s going to get a lot worse.”
The Belfast Telegraph itself attempted to contact Ikea customer service and can confirm that all we got was ABBA music.
Responding to this newspaper, an Ikea spokesperson said that with stores currently closed “the level of demand experienced by our Customer Support Centre is more than double the volumes experienced in pre-Covid times”.
He added: “At peak periods of the day our phone lines and webchat services do become full and this causes them to appear unavailable.
“When this happens, we kindly ask our customers to try again later or use the self-service options on our website. We apologise unreservedly for the frustration this causes.”
In terms of getting a replacement product, the Ikea spokesperson said the retailer would pay the delivery charges.
“In the unfortunate event an item is missing or damaged upon arrival, we kindly ask the customer to contact us and we will arrange for a replacement to be delivered without any further delivery charges,” he said.
Amazon, the biggest online site of all, has already warned its customers that there could be delays in items arriving post-Brexit.
It is likely, however, that the huge multi-national company will end up supplying Northern Ireland via the Republic of Ireland.
This will avoid extra costs in trade between here and GB — the inevitable result of the ‘Irish Sea border’.
Meanwhile, one Amazon customer said: “I was waiting for a small packet from Amazon. I got an email that it had been despatched and was due to arrive Thursday January 7. Tracking was available. Now it’s not. Just a message that it will be late or I can apply for a refund. I’m blaming Brexit.”
In the meantime, Northern Irish retailers are likely to seek new suppliers outside GB but, like them, part of the EU Single Market.
None of that, however, guarantees effective or acceptable after-sales customer service.
ABBA’s (alternative) Greatest Hits
1. Take A Chance Online
2. Ring, Ring... And Ring Again
3. Money, Money, Money Back
4. The Day Before You Answered
5. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Replacement)