Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Can Customer Service Be Too Good?: The Swedish furniture retailer IKEA does everything it can to make a trip to its stores hassle-free, providing on-site restaurants and even child-care facilities at many of its stores. But this article in the German magazine Spiegel suggests that some Germans are taking advantage and IKEA is "is increasingly turning into a welfare center for pensioners, young moms, low-earners and the unemployed."

Pensions and other poor people go to IKEA for cheap eats, with no intention of buying anything -- helping to make a furniture store the 11th largest "restaurant chain" in the country. One out of every 20 Euros spent at IKEA is spent on food not furniture. And others are using the children's play facilities -- a convenience for parents who don't want to drag their children around the stories -- as a free day care substitute: "One Friday evening a child had gone un-picked-up by closing time, in spite of imploring announcements on the sound system. The parents came in around 9 p.m. -- at least an hour after the store had closed its doors. They'd simply forgotten their child."

This has to be costing IKEA money, and while it probably buys goodwill, the people most likely to take advantage of these facilities don't appear to be big-spending furniture shoppers.

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