PANICKY HOTNESS….There was a riot during the grand opening of an Ikea store in Britain today, and it prompted a truly bizarre reaction from Susie Steiner in the Guardian. It’s all Ikea’s fault, she says. Not because they misjudged the mob scene at the opening, mind you, but just for being themselves:

There is less talk about Ikea’s greed, and in particular about the way in which this giant of a corporation manipulates its customer’s emotions, sending them into ever more hysterical cycles of rage and frustration.

….This unbending approach is evident in all Ikea’s rules of purchase. You can look on Ikea’s website, but you cannot purchase anything on it. You cannot purchase over the telephone either. You cannot ring up and add to your existing order, you must visit the store again. If you go to an Ikea store by car, you must resign yourself to a couple of hours in a tailback. If you go to an Ikea store by public transport, you must resign yourself to being stung by the store’s furniture delivery service.

When you’re inside an Ikea store, you must come to terms with a near permanent state of bewilderment: shelves stacked with flat brown boxes labelled with random codes and names; a yellow road which takes you inexplicably through bedrooms when all you wanted was some kitchen handles. And then, then, when your emotional temperature is rising and you can feel a panicky hotness around your ears, you will be faced with Ikea’s version of customer care ? an underpaid teenager, trained in psychic disengagement who’ll tell you they’re out of stock.

I would just like to say for the record that I have wandered through my local Ikea many times, and it has never prompted a panicky hotness around my ears. The fact that Ikea is a self-service store that doesn’t do business over the phone doesn’t really strike me as something to get quite so bothered about.

Then again, perhaps Susie Steiner was traumatized during her childhood by a bored sales clerk in a furniture store somewhere. That might explain it.

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