Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved

Pretty much my idea of hell.

I hardly thought it was an accident, but some researcher at University College London has confirmed what should have long been evident to anyone who’d ever found themselves hunting for an exit there: IKEA deliberately “traps” customers in a carefully laid-out maze:

The path is “effectively their catalog in physical form” says Penn. “You’re directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like light bulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren’t planning on getting … Because the layout is so confusing you know you won’t be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your [cart] as you go past.”

That might seem like genius to IKEA headquarters, but it’s also the reason I never go to their ridiculous stores. Hopefully the customers they’ve driven off with this cynical contempt outnumber the customers who’ve bought a stupid extra widget they didn’t need. Wouldn’t it be nice if treating customers with respect was something capitalism rewarded, and the inverse something it punished?

21 responses to “Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved

  1. Oh c’mon, Jeremy.
    We can all do with the excercise.
    And they give you pencils and paper tape measures for free!


  2. I think Sears first used this tactic way back in 1925.

    Seriously dude, this is taking anti-corporate paranoia to a level beyond extreme.

  3. You just hate shopping, Jeremy.

  4. No, I just don’t like being deliberately prevented from leaving.

  5. williamcorgan

    That’s exactly what I was talking about. They were doing it then, way back in the mid-90s.

  6. I know it’s off topic Jeremy, but is there any reason the Australian Family Lobby website is not accessible? Or is it just me?

  7. PS – as for the post, I like IKEA furniture so what else can I say?

  8. It should work, Jimmy – email if you’re having problems with it.

  9. Jeremy @ 7:01;

    I just don’t like being deliberately prevented from leaving.

    Is this a racist thing? Next you’re gonna tell me you don’t like Volvos?

    You’re not being prevented from leaving
    You’re just being asked to work for it.
    Think of the exit doors as a ball of cheese at the end of the maze.

    Just one word of advice; if you take a child younger than 8 with you to IKEA, make sure you fit them with some sort of satellite tracking device.


  10. The whole point is to prevent me from leaving when I want to, and to force me to go somewhere I don’t want in order to escape.

    That’s not something that makes me like being there, and so I avoid the place like the plague.

  11. Yeah, right. Which explains why you sat in the car twice today whilst I went into shops. You just shopping, and now you think you have justification.

  12. I’ll only go to Ikea with a cut lunch, a compass and a Sherpa.

  13. @ auchel

    The shopping trolley for today’s busy lifestyle

  14. “Wouldn’t it be nice if treating customers with respect was something capitalism rewarded, and the inverse something it punished?”

    Capitalism rewards providing for others’ needs and wants. Capitalism rewards creating value. But we’re not all the same, so plenty of people will take cheap prices over respect, and Ikea flourishes. You don’t have to make that choice, and thankfully a liberal democratic capitalism like Australia lets you do what you want.

    I’m glad you don’t spend money in a place that doesn’t meet your needs. That’s how the system works. If enough people make that same choice, Ikea will change what it does, or go out of business. Every dollar you spend is a small vote on how you want the world to be.

  15. True – but it’s worth warning people before they get trapped in the place.

    And Billy C – yup, thought so!

  16. Ikea is a panic inducing claustrophobic experience. If I have no alternative I have a strategy. Fill up the basket with anything that takes your fancy, and only purchase what you want when you leave. Really, just leave it all there at the checkout. Be ruthless as they make returning items a Kafkaesque experience. Serves them right.

  17. Going to a store that requires me to put something together is against my religion. 😉

  18. BTW folks, this isn’t about capitalism, it’s about marketing.

    Capitalism is to sex what marketers are to pimps.


  19. Don’t be dictated by their rules. Our local IKEA strongly “suggests” (by way of an almost invisible alternative route) that customers should go upstairs past the restaurant and through the naff room constructions. I did this a couple of times until I found the almost invisible, magic door which took me straight into where the goodies are.

    A couple more visits and I learned that you could, without being arrested and beaten, walk in through the Exit, past the cash registers and straight to the frame and candle section. That’s really all I ever buy. That and those cool little sticky rollers that pick up pet hair.

  20. “Every dollar you spend is a small vote on how you want the world to be.”

    How come Rupert Murdoch gets millions more votes than I do? I thought this was a democracy.

  21. narcoticmusing

    bloods05 ” I thought this was a democracy”

    [laughs and laughs]

    [takes a breath]

    Oh, you weren’t being sarcastic… but still… if you were…

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