Comments have been edited for clarity and grammar.
1. Always check your sources
The best breakdown I dealt with was when I was working in Home Organization. This man marched up to me, phone in hand and family in tow.
He wanted to buy a clothes rack, but he couldn’t find it anywhere.
He showed me a picture on his phone. A screenshot from a website with no context. I hadn't seen that clothes rack before. I asked if he knew the name of it.
He said, "No, that's your job."
He was getting even more worked up now. But I couldn't search with just an image. I checked our store's website and I couldn’t find it. I asked if he was sure he looked at (store location)'s website.
Immediately I can tell he feels insulted. Of course he looked at the right website. I asked him to show me.
He pulled up the website, and there is the clothes rack. Quite clearly on Target.com.
He noticed and stormed off wordlessly.
2. Calculate the ramifications
One of my coworkers, let's call him Jim, worked evenings in returns, while his day job was teaching math at a local high school.
A woman came to the counter trying to return some pillows. Generally speaking, they didn't take returns on pillows for sanitary reasons. She also didn't have a receipt and the pillows were clearly used and absolutely disgusting.
Jim tells the customer that he's sorry, but our return policy states we only accept products within 30 days of purchase, with the receipt, unused in the original packaging.
This did not sit well with her and she began to scream at Jim. While he spoke perfect English, he still had an accent. She mocked his accent and told him to speak English.
Meanwhile, her teenage son is in the background. He's pleading with his mother to stop shouting at Jim. He's begging her to give it up, so they can go home.
She turns around to shout at her son and ask him why he cares so much.
"That's my calculus teacher."
There was a parent-teacher night scheduled for a few weeks later, his father went alone.
3. Black Friday madness
Two words. Black Friday. It was 9:55 a.m., we opened at 10:00 a.m. We were almost done, all that we had left was put out some children's kitchen set.
We didn't realize it was 50% off. I only had two pallets left to put out when the store opens and the horde came.
They were crazy. Sprinting, pushing and shoving. They fought to get to these kitchens and when they noticed my pallets, they tore them open.
One woman started screaming and attacked the guy who took the last item off of the pallet, not noticing the other pallets.
I had to pull her off him and security came. After about 10 minutes the chaos ended, and I cleaned up.
4. Lights out
I was in the Vancouver Ikea, and they have a children's play area that was packed.
There must have been 100 kids in there, some being watched from outside and some completely unattended.
Without warning, the power went out. There were emergency lights, but the play area was still quite dark. The kids all started shrieking and crying and running around in the darkness.
The power only out for two minutes, but the chaos was spectacular.
When the lights came back on, it looked like a battleground. Some kids were bruised and bloodied, some had the 1,000-yard stare of a war veteran. There were a few who had bonded together in the tunnels and refused to leave.
Some were missing entirely. They must have escaped in the shadows into the well-furnished maze that is Ikea.
5. He sounds like a water-ful person
I work in the bistro area and I once had a customer scream and threaten a coworker when he was told he couldn't get a cup for water.
We only have one cup in the bistro, it costs $1.00 and is counted as inventory, so we can't give them out for free. When my coworker told the guy this, he flipped out and said Ikea is pure garbage and we are operating illegally by not providing him water (we aren't, there's a water fountain to the right).
He begins to call my coworker names and approaches me and asks for a cup. I tell him the same thing which only angers him further.
Once I point out the water fountain nearby he says he won't use it because he isn't a 'peasant' and says he'll come back to deal with me and my coworker for trying to profit off his dehydration.
Needless to say, I never saw him again and my coworker and I shared a good laugh.
6. The floodgates opened
I went to Ikea last year with friends of mine, who were a husband and wife.
They own a pickup truck and could haul stuff. I needed exactly two things: a desk and an office chair. They were just going to look around.
I walked into the store, picked out a desk and a chair, and wrote the numbers down. In and out of the office section in ninety seconds.
Too late. Their attention had already been grabbed, and they spent the next 20 minutes discussing potential couches, chairs, dressers, beds, etc.
All of which culminated in my friend saying the single worst thing he could have said in the moment, "This will be such a pain to move.”
"We're moving? Why are we moving?"
"You know I've always wanted to move to Colorado."
"Then why did I just leave the job I loved for the more permanent job here?"
What followed was no less than a 15-minute screaming argument in the midst of Ikea.
It continued through the warehouse, the checkout line, and into the parking lot. It quickly progressed to jobs, school, families, children, and ended when she snatched the keys from his hand, screamed a torrent of obscenities at both of us, and drove off.
7. Get the forklift
A guy came in and wanted something that we only had “in the air,” so it would require a forklift to get the product down, which we don’t do with people in the store for fairly obvious safety reasons.
I told him we could get it down right after the store closed for him, but that was not an acceptable answer. He proceeded to lose it on me, demanding I bring out a forklift and take it down now.
As this is happening, his wife and two small children walk up.
I say, “Well sir, just imagine that your children are in the aisle when the forklift comes out and an accident occurs. Your children could be hurt by a falling pallet or any other number of possible fatal incidents.”
His response, “I don’t care about that, I just want you to get my table.”
I didn’t have to continue the conversation. His wife took care of it.
8. All that for some plates
I was working in the kitchen accessories department and this middle aged guy asked me where the cheap white plates are.
These are the lowest priced plates that come in one color. But they recently changed the color from white to beige.
I explain this and this guy starts raising his voice at me, telling me he owns a restaurant. I go to the computer and check that there isn't a pallet, just so he sees I've tried helping him.
Even showing him the big fat zero on the screen. He gets red in the face and starts telling me how I'm personally responsible for the gas he spent driving here on his Audi A8. Asked me if I know how much gas an Audi A8 burns.
The conversation went something like this:
"You're gonna pay for the gas I spent driving here."
"I doubt that, sir."
“Listen here kid. I’m gonna drive back home, load all the white plates in my car and dump them all in front of your stupid store. You’re gonna pay me every last cent for the damages.”
"That's a good idea."
I wasn't even trying to be rude, I just really wanted this guy to do this.
Then he asked for my manager, yelled at him basically repeating everything, including his Audi A8 gas mileage.
He ended up buying the beige plates.
9. Dog-free zone
I was working as the greeter one day, as a family of three walked in.
I hear the daughter say, “What are they going to do, kick me out?”
I give her a quick check and realize she has a chihuahua in her purse. I stroll up to them and say, “Welcome to Ikea, but I’m sorry, the dog cannot come inside,” then we go through why not.
The daughter then starts losing it, saying, “It’s 90 degrees outside and I don’t have water.”
So I tell her she can wait outside while someone goes into the marketplace and buys a dog bowl and water to bring out to her.
She literally starts screaming. Not yelling, I think yelling requires words, this is just a scream. This lady is easily in her twenties.
At this point, the father loses it and just starts yelling at her, “I told you to leave the dog at home! I don’t know why you have to bring it everywhere you go. Now I have to deal with this!”
So the daughter went outside and the father went to the marketplace, while I sat uncomfortably with the mother in the entrance for a good half an hour, until her husband came back.
10. Sofa scammer
A customer went through self checkout with a $3,000 couch, but put a label for a $600 couch on it. The employee at the self-checkout completely missed this, and the customer got through.
The person then loaded the couch onto their truck and got out of there as fast as they could.
Ikea is right along the I-15 freeway, as soon as they got on the freeway, the couch fell out and onto the road. It completely destroyed the couch.
15 minutes later, the guy came back and tried to do a no receipt exchange. He tried to blame the employee who helped him secure it (footage found that no employee helped him secure it, he did it on his own).
The self-checkout employee remembered him coming through earlier, so they pulled the receipt to find out what the deal was with this guy. That's when the pieces were put together.
When his refund was refused, he was told to leave now and that he's not welcome back at Ikea and my supervisor called him on his scam.
He then threatened my supervisor and said he was going to take him out to the parking lot and "settle this."
My boss handled the whole thing like a champ until the police could show up.
11. Watch your kids
I'm a cashier. I've never seen a family meltdown, but one time I was helping at the self-serve station and I watched a gentleman let his 5-year-old son run around loose in the self-serve area.
Another customer was trying to scan a big curtain rod, so he had to take it out of his cart to tilt it to get the barcode. The kid just happened to have run over to that area and got hit in the face with the curtain rod when it was pulled out.
The dad got so angry with the guy, who just kept apologizing, and I was over here thinking, “Keep an eye on your kid, if you don't want them to get hurt.”
12. Rose-colored glasses
I worked in the Market Hall in Home Organization, Lighting and Decoration.
I heard a woman screaming and made my way to the lighting section where I found a woman in the middle of the walkway, screaming at the top of her lungs, “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t!”
She was crying and I thought she was really having some type of health crisis.
I asked her if she was okay and she just kept repeating, “I can’t do this anymore!
I had to help her calm her breathing and stop crying. I asked her what was wrong and if I could help.
She said, “I can’t find the floor lamp I want and I have walked all over this store multiple times and I can’t do it anymore. I need to get out!!”
I told her I would take her to the exit, but maybe I could find the lamp she came for.
Turns out, the display of the lamp she wanted was next to her, and the boxes were behind her.
She didn’t believe that it was the lamp she wanted because it wasn’t the right color. She was wearing sunglasses and never bothered to take them off to see that, indeed, it was the right color.
13. It’s just a piece of cheese
This was during the breakfast at Ikea, which is only one euro. I saw a woman flipping out on another, older woman about taking the last slice of cheese.
The slice is only one of seven things included with the one euro breakfast.
She then totally lost it and was shouting at the older woman, calling her a racist and that she was going to fight her.
After that already insane reaction, she continued with her rage and started at the three managers that came to de-escalate the situation.
In the meantime, the older lady was all in tears, but was brought to a safe place by the coworkers.
14. Wait your turn
I used to work at the entrance as a greeter at an Ikea in Austria.
That Ikea is open until 9:00 p.m. during the week. At 8:45 p.m. a young Austrian guy comes up to me and asks where he could find a kitchen item and if I could look it up on my computer.
While talking to him, three people approached my desk, extremely stressed, shopping carts full. One of them interrupted the young man I was talking to and said to me, "You! Where is the checkout!!??"
The young man, slightly annoyed, still politely told the group to wait a second. After he was gone, the man of the group winked to me and said, "What a nervous and rude boy."
I told him that I thought it was more rude to interrupt. He then said to me, "Now you are rude."
His wife completely loses it. Called me all the insults the German language has, red face, tense body, fists, I thought she was going to attack me.
Her husband had to drag her to the elevator, as she screamed at me the entire time.
I think she screamed for 10 minutes. My hands were shaking when I picked up my phone to call my manager to warn him that there might be a complaint later.
15. They still need a pillow
A man came in demanding a type of pillow he'd seen in the showroom and described the general shape of it (roughly pillow shaped).
I asked him if he remembered how much it was or the name. He did not. I then took him to the big carousel of pillows where you can see and feel all the ones we sold, and asked if any of them looked like it.
They did not.
After a while, he remembered that he wrote down the name, and went rooting through his yellow bag to find the slip of paper, but after several minutes of looking he had nothing.
His wife was growing increasingly impatient with him, telling him off for being disorganized and just generally berating him.
His will started to break, and his voice got higher, as he gave in to his wife and they both left, with her still firing insults at him.
16. A broken bookcase
While working the home delivery desk, I had an older couple come into returns around 7:00 p.m. on a Monday night.
The store is quiet and no wait at the returns desk. They come up to the desk and say they want to return a bookcase because they had put a large collection of heavy paperback books in it. While on vacation, they came back to find the shelves collapsed.
Now here's the kicker, they brought in photos of the broken bookcase and no receipt, so when the returns coworker starts talking to them, the husband gets mad and makes such a scene, that our LP(loss prevention/security) comes down.
After the customer has it out with them, LP asks them to leave.
Guy was irate, screaming and yelling profanities and walks out main exit. The wife had been quiet until then and goes from zero-to-sixty.
She starts saying, "Screw Ikea and your terrible furniture," and walks out too.
17. What does pay grade have to do with it?
A man and woman in their mid-20s came to the store. They look like the average people who you'd see stepping out of a two-seater, high-end BMW, with attitudes to match.
They ask my buddy for help and ask a lot of questions about a couple of pieces. The couple ends up wanting them, so my buddy gives the couple the warehouse codes for the items.
The man is confused. The couple's apparently new to Ikea, so my buddy explains the items are to be self-assembled at home. The guy gets real angry and starts lashing out about this kind of thing being below his pay grade.
My buddy suggests they use their installation service. At first the guy is like, “okay, finally some service,” until he learns it costs extra to have them assembled.
The guy goes into a rage and yells, “I'm not paying!” and causes a huge scene.
18. Clean-up in home organization
I’ve worked at Ikea for eight years now and I will never forget these parents and their 4-year-old boy.
I work in a smaller Ikea and word travels fast, so I heard a horror story about a little boy upstairs that had thrown up in the sofa section before he even got downstairs to me.
And boy when he did.
This child was not sick like I expected, but he was actually forcing himself to throw up because he wanted to leave.
His parents were so used to the situation that they had a huge backpack of clothes on hand and were changing him throughout the store every time he threw up.
Think he threw up about five times before they finally got out of the store.
19. Futon tantrum
The younger couple had been bickering back and forth, evidently having arrived with different ideas in mind for what they wanted.
It was pretty clear that the girl was winning the arguments, and when they reached the living rooms, the guy just gave up.
Guy: "Fine! Pick what you want, I'll just wait here!"
He threw himself down in one of the showroom futons, and subsequently fell through the futon as one of the parts gave way and the mattress feel through to the floor.
The girl started calling for him, and I backed out of there as fast as I could without being noticed.
20. That's past expired
I’ve been working there for two years now.
This was a guy at the return desk, trying to return something he bought three years ago.
Ikea has a 365-day return policy, so we could literally do nothing for him. Now the flat pack furniture had glass shelves in the box and they were so smashed they were basically sand.
The more we kept saying we can’t help, the more irate he got. He then proceeded to open the box and dump all the broken glass on the desk and promptly walked off.
That guy was a jerk and I had to clean up the whole mess.
21. Out of stock
I got called out to help out a cashier, who was having an issue with a customer.
I asked what was going on and the cashier let me know that a product was out of stock and the customer had asked if we could check another store's inventory.
We told the customer that we only had one store in the city.
I let the customer know that we could give them a call when the product was back in our store. They promptly accused me of lying to them to stand up for my staff. They asked me to get the store manager.
The store manager basically said the same thing that I did. The customer threw a huge fit, threw the stuff that she was going to buy on the ground, and walked out.
I thought the story was over, but a couple of days later my boss let me know that someone had called the head office and tried to report us all to the company president.
He once again repeated what we had said.
22. Where are the exits?
Been working at the largest Ikea store in the U.S. for over a year.
One recent story was about this middle-aged lady who came up to a coworker and I on a very very slow Wednesday afternoon.
She was frustrated and says, "How do I get out of here?! There are no exits!"
Instead of listening to my coworker give directions (she was almost out, too), she proceeds to scream louder and louder, "I've never been in a store with no exits!”
She caught some awkward glances from nearby customers who stifled their laughter.
My coworker moves her along. And less than five minutes later, we saw her stop and shop for fake flowers, instead of exiting the store.
23. Keeping up appearances
I once overheard a young woman talking to her man in the furniture section.
She was sobbing uncontrollably, talking about how if she doesn't have all the best, fanciest, most expensive furniture, she'd be ashamed to have her friends over and that would trigger her panic attacks.
Dude was calmly trying to compromise with her because he didn't want to spend enough money to buy an entire house, just on furniture. But she was having none of it.
She started hyperventilating and had to lie down because she was going to faint.
Dude was just looking around at people with this apologetic look, while he tried to maneuver her into a chair.
All I could think was, "Wow. Poor guy."
24. That’s 306 minutes too long
I used to work in Full Service Handout, which is the stuff that is too big or too intricate for customers to self-serve. It was honestly always a tightrope walk, keeping someone calm, who had already been in the store for three hours.
They told us the timetable was seven minutes per piece and an additional minute for every other piece.
I distinctly remember one guy flipping out when I told him that it could take up to 306 minutes for his 300 piece kitchen.
He’s like, “What?! I’m gonna be here all day! Screw this! This is ridiculous!”
And all I could say was, “Hey man, I’m gonna check with the pickers and see how far through they are, so I can give you a better estimate of how long it will take.”
Nevermind that they are pulling an entire kitchen for him.
It’s just a ton of parts and he just had this unrealistic expectation of how long it should take to pull every part for a custom kitchen. As if we just had everything ready to go.
25. She’s not kitchen around
I had a lady come up to me, extremely upset about her kitchen order.
I don't recall specifics about why she was pissed, but she started swearing. I calmly told her, "I understand your frustration, but I will have to ask you to refrain from using that language. This is a family establishment."
That just made her more mad and she did it again. I interrupted her, "Ma'am, you may not use that language. I will gladly help you but you may not speak to me like that. If you can't refrain from using that language, I am going to have to ask you to leave."
Her face then changed to a very bright red and I could see her debating the millions of things she could say. Her mouth was clamped shut and she started trembling all over.
She then turned on her heel and shouted as she left my department, "I'm going to return my whole kitchen now since you won't help me!"
She did not return her kitchen that day.
26. Not the brightest bulb in the box
This one lady came in frantic, looking for a light bulb for a fixture.
She shoved a piece of paper into my face, with a bunch of letters and numbers on it, and she assumed that was a product SKU. I told her that number wasn't an Ikea product SKU, but she demanded that I look for it.
I told her that I couldn't do anything with that "SKU," so I asked her if she could see any fixture in the department that looked like what she was finding the bulb for. She just anxiously told me she couldn't bother to.
I then pointed her towards where all the light bulbs were and she just stared at me and said, "Why can't you find this bulb for me?! If I gave this piece of paper to Canadian Tire, they could find the bulb for me!"
I once again told her it was not an Ikea product SKU and told her she would be better off going to Canadian Tire.
She just huffed away.
27. The store is too big
I was working in Home Delivery and a family, a mother and two daughters, asked me what the price of delivery was.
I noticed the mother and older daughter seemed to be not in the best mood, as I could tell the older daughter was giving attitude to her mother.
I told her the delivery price for her items. The mother let out a sigh. I didn't think much of it, but continued working on getting her set up for delivery and they asked me another question.
Just as I was about to explain, the mother suddenly broke down and started crying. She was saying this place was so big and she couldn’t stand it and vented some more thoughts. Then she walked away and I noticed their father came just as this happened.
She tells him she couldn’t do this right now and told him to go.
I didn't know what to do and just ignored the whole situation.
28. All lies
A lady asked me what the 8 euro coupon for a dinner was for, so I explained.
She then asked another question about the coupon, but I didn't really hear the question, so I asked her to repeat it.
She then started to say she wouldn’t repeat the question. I told her if she repeated her question, I could give her an answer. She then told me to get my manager and she wouldn’t talk to me anymore.
So I tried to ask her again if she wanted to repeat the question, maybe it wasn’t a difficult question and can be answered quickly. She still wanted to see the store manager. I called the food manager.
Here’s the twisted part.
She told my manager that I was unable to tell her about the coupon and that I told her I didn't know anything about it.
When my manager told me this, I was so baffled by this lady just lying to my manager.
29. Not a retail store
I work for Ikea in a Distribution Center. When you call our main line, it states, "This is not a retail store.”
One day, I was heading to my lunch break and encountered a family of six in the parking lot.
The father walks up to me, asking where the entrance is. I told him we’re not a retail store, but a distribution center.
He started to get upset, saying that an Ikea sign was on the front of the building. I told him I understood, but we don’t allow the general public inside.
The mother looked at me and insisted that she’s been to this location before. She wanted to shop and her kids were hungry.
One of our guards was starting his shift and I called him over to help explain that we were a warehouse. One of the kids lost his mind over wanting meatballs, screaming at his mother and punching her.
The father started screaming at the guard, saying that we can’t discriminate against them. He threatened to call the cops and sic his lawyer on us. He wanted to speak to my manager.
I gave him the phone number for the facility and asked him to put the call on speaker phone. Our recording answers, "Hello, thank you for calling the Perryville Ikea Distribution Center. This is not a retail store."
At this point, the mother finally realizes that they screwed up. However, the father is still demanding that we let him inside to shop.
We look nothing like a store, but people insist they have shopped here before.
30. Ikea catches cheaters
Have worked in Ikea in the U.K. You never understand the level of stupid and craziness that exists in the world, until you work in retail. Could write a book with the amount of weird and shocking stuff that goes down there.
Was the only coworker on my department for like half an hour, while it was extremely busy. Was working away when I hear an almighty screech.
Turns out a guy was shopping with his mistress for some furniture and his wife and mother-in-law caught him, since they stopped by to shop too.
Turns into one heck of a brawl, as the wife goes for the mistress, while mother-in-law goes for the cheating husband.
Had to try and break it up, while security was on their way. They were eventually dragged out and banned.