Customer Service- This is Why We Will Go Back to Abt, but Not to IKEA

abt-vs-ikeaScenario #1: I told you about some ghosts in our machine. The new Sony TVs we bought at Abt Television and Appliances didn't communicate well with our Comcast/Xfinity cable system. Frequent shutdowns and reboots made watching "The Walking Dead" and "Girls" even greater hardships than they otherwise would have been. In contrast, our older TVs and the non-Sonys seemed to work fine.

Every service man in the Lake and Cook counties took a shot at remedying the situation, with shiny new HDMI connectors, pulsating cable boxes and advice to start this or stop that, but nothing worked. Neither Comcast nor our TV installer had much of an explanation. My Google research DID suggest that we weren't the only ones who had the Sony-Comcast issue, but it was as well hidden as the dark web. And other sufferers had no explanation either.

In desperation, Barb and I returned to Abt on a busy Sunday afternoon. For those of you not in the know, Abt is a family owned appliance store in the northern Chicago suburbs. Everyone shops there. We spoke with a manager who listened patiently and suggested a remedy. He would send out a floor model non-Sony television to temporarily replace one of the balking Sony's. If that resolved the problem, the store would take back any of the sets we had difficulty with and replace them with new sets, different brands, of our choice and of equal value.

A few days later, we had the temporary replacement. It worked fine, and to our astonishment, all the other new sets now worked too! Maybe our Xfinity system had just failed when working with that many Sony sets. After all, Xfinity is not Infinity. We stopped back at Abt, spoke with our new manager-buddy, and selected the permanent replacement. Of course, we upgraded. And now everything works. A new UltraHDTV for us, a new sale for Abt. Good service and smiles all around.

Scenario #2: The house is almost furnished. But one wall in the loft still needs some bookcases.  After I nixed custom cabinetry from Stan the Cabinet Man, Barb found some workable pieces at IKEA. We worked with a knowledgeable salesman and selected the system we wanted. We chose to have IKEA deliver the pieces and do the assembly and installation as well.

The service company IKEA uses arrived at the prescribed date and time, carried the pieces to the loft, and assembled the bookcases. Then the fun began. Scanning the wall to find studs, they were shocked to find that there were water pipes in the wall. We were NOT shocked since there is a bathroom on the other side of that wall. The delivery/assembly/installation team informed us that IKEA rules prohibited them from drilling into a wall with water pipes. Calls to the delivery company and IKEA confirmed this.

"OK," we said, "just leave the pieces and we will hire someone else to install them."  A bit of a bother, but no big deal. "Nope," they told us, "rules are we have to take these back to the store, where they will probably be thrown out." Not the first time I have been amazed at the waste of a Scandanavian company!

And the aggravation continues. The next day I spent one hour and 38 minutes (yes, my desk phone has a timer,) on the phone with IKEA customer service, most of the time on hold, trying to arrange for a refund for the product that we did not have. The upshot? It will take weeks, and probably countless hours on hold before the credit appears on my Visa statement. "That," I was told, "is the way it is."

Scenario #1 vs Scenario #2. Which store would YOU go back to?


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