Wednesday, September 30, 2009
IKEA Wants Us Dazed & Confused, Because Then They Make More Money (was How IKEA wasted 4½ hours of my time and lost my previous and future business)UPDATE: A PLANNING CONSULTANT who makes mathematical models that accurately predict how people experience public spaces made a comment about my shopping experience (after the jump). He cites an article in the British Guardian that studied the IKEA shopping experience after some customers rioted during a sale at the North London IKEA:
"You double-back on yourself, you can't see the shortcuts, you don't see the outside world. It's psychologically disruptive, a coercive environment - a kind of brainwashing, really." And all cunningly designed for selling. "A phenomenal proportion of purchases at Ikea are made on impulse," says Penn. "Their whole success is geared to getting people to make impulse purchases." To do this, the shoppers are forced to follow a tortuous, confusing route through the store. "The signage is not particularly good," says Batty, "and if you want to go back, it's not easy."
The article reports that IKEA customers were trampled to deaths at the Jeddah store.
SHORT VERSION: THE BROOKLYN IKEA is open every day until 9.* The last boat back to Manhattan leaves at 7:40. The last shuttle bus leaves at 8:40 (despite a sign that says 9). IKEA purchases are often heavy, and Red Hook has the worst public transportation in New York City. The IKEA staff seemingly couldn't care less that the customers are getting the shaft.
LONG VERSION: WHEN THE BROOKLYN IKEA opened in New York City's equivalent of the middle of nowhere (in Red Hook, a neighborhood cut off from the rest of the city by a Robert-Moses-built highway), IKEA built its own Water Taxi dock and subsidized service to Manhattan's South Street Seaport. That's a short walk from my office, so when I needed a two-drawer file cabinet, I walked down to the boat and rode to IKEA. I got to the store around 7 pm and spent almost an hour in the two-floor, windowless maze inside looking at what was available. Most of the file cabinets were one-drawer, with a small drawer on top. I didn't like the few two-drawer choices, and ended up buying an EXPEDIT on wheels, because it was cheaper and looked better than the file cabinets.
By the time I'd had a few Swedish Meatballs (while I pondered whether or not to buy the shelves instead of a file cabinet) and got through the cashier's line, over an hour and half had passed. That's when I found out the last boat had left 50 minutes earlier. There was a shuttle bus to the subway in Clinton Hill, but my purchase weighed over 70 lbs, and I knew there would be many steps between me and the elevated subway platform. The manager I asked about this would have been hard-pressed to be less concerned or sympathetic: she clearly thought it was reasonable that the boat service stopped an hour and twenty minutes before the store closes,* and told me that there's a boat schedule at the entrance to the store. Photos of that sign are above and below: I had time to take them after I missed the last boat and the last shuttle bus.
What the manager didn't bother to tell me was that the last shuttle bus left in less than two minutes from the time when we were talking. There is a sign with the bus schedule once you get to the shuttle stop, but it says the bus runs until 9.
I returned my EXPEDIT (not wanting to drag it up the subway station steps, and not feeling very friendly towards IKEA at that point), and took a city bus. It made a 10 minute loop in Red Hook before coming back to the same bus stop where I had gotten on and then going to the subway stop. I got to the station after 10, more than 4 hours after I started the 10-minute walk to the IKEA boat. It took another 40 minutes to get back to my office from Brooklyn stop.
Obvious Question: Why should we give money to a store that intentionally treats us so badly?
As I stood in line waiting to return the shelves and watching the customer service reps take other people's returns, I couldn't help but think that IKEA's employees must be overworked and underpaid, because they all looked unhappy.
Moral of the Story: Don't shop at IKEA,
if you must go to the Brooklyn IKEA, read the Water Taxi schedule before you leave Manhattan.
IKEA could be nice to their customers and run the Water Taxi and shuttle buses later – or at least notify people with signs they might see – but that's not the way those nefarious Swedes roll.
PS: IKEA used to pay everyone's fare on the Water Taxi from Manhattan, but they decided too many Red Hook residents used the service, so the ride now costs $5 each way unless you buy $10 worth of merchandise.
PPS: Google IKEA s***s and you'll get 350,000 hits in .29 seconds.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Re Lord Foster To Build On Moon
Exclusive image courtesy of Dean Gunderson, Dreiling Terrones Architecture
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
POLL: Is Prince Charles good for architecture?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Live from New York
Rehearsal for tomorrow, 4 or 5 blocks south of Ground Zero.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Summer & SeptemberPS: ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS about living in New York is the number of good places you can easily travel to. I've added a few photos of some of the places we went last week.
I WANTED TO GO to Martha's Vineyard at the end of the Obamas' stay, but Tropical Storm Daniel was scheduled to roll over the island the same day as our scheduled arrival. So a few days later we got into the car and headed north for points unknown. After a stop in Great Barrington for a Rubiner, we ended up in Grafton, Vermont.
Grafton is an idyllic Vermont town that has been frozen in aspic by the Windham Foundation. It's not far from the Connecticut River and the Cornish Colony in New Hampshire, where artists and architects like Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Maxfield Parrish and Charles Platt used to summer.
The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is a wonderful place that brings home how we used to live, before interstates, the internet and air conditioning. It sits on hill will a view down the Connecticut River and across to Mt. Ascutney. A ravine leading down to Blow Me Down Brook is always cool, a wonderful place for a dip on a hot August day.
And Great Barrington is always a good stop, with Rubiner's, the Berkshire Co-op and Baba Louie's. You can drive there rapidly on the Taconic Parkway, one of the most beautiful of America's freeways, or choose one of many alternative routes: we often take 44 East from the Taconic to Millbrook and Millerton, and then head up 7 North in Connecticut. But stopping in Pawling for lunch at McKinney & Doyle and then driving up 7 through Kent, Cornwall and Falls Village is another good route.
The Berkshires are a center of locavore culture. The E.F. Schumacher Institute, the group that started Berkshares, are there, and the Berkshire Co-op has photos and descriptions of their farmers above the produce – which is delicious. We brought back local, organic corn and tomatoes from the Co-op, but not enough corn, which is the best I've ever tasted. Tomorrow begins post-Labor-Day September, always an exciting time in New York.