Ikea Employees Share the Worst Family Meltdowns They’ve Ever Witnessed
IKEA may seem like a place where people go to innocently shop for furniture and home goods — but think again. Some people joke that the word “IKEA” is Swedish for "divorce" because of the number of fights and meltdowns that occur in the store between couples. It doesn’t end there, though. Whole families have been known to get into it while navigating the labyrinthine paths leading through IKEA stores.
These hilarious stories of IKEA meltdowns are the real deal, and they might make you think twice before braving one of these furniture warehouses with another person. Need a new LACK table or BRYGGJA dresser? Perhaps it’s best just to go alone.
The Definition of Embarrassment
One of my coworkers, let’s call him Jim, worked evenings and weekends in returns while his day job was teaching math at a local high school.
One day, a woman comes to the counter trying to return some pillows. Generally speaking, they didn’t take returns on pillows for sanitary reasons. She also didn’t have a receipt and the pillows were clearly used and absolutely disgusting. Jim tells the customer that he’s sorry, but our return policy states we only accept products within 30 days of purchase, with the receipt and unused in the original packaging.
This did not sit well with her and she began to scream at Jim. She was spiteful and cruel. Jim had come to the US from another country years ago, and while he spoke perfect English, he still had an accent. She mocked his accent and told him to speak English. She repeatedly shouted that he was stupid and would never amount to anything, he was too dumb to get a real job, etc.
Meanwhile, her teenage son is in the background. He’s pleading with his mother to stop shouting at Jim. He’s begging her to give it up so they can go home. Eventually, she turns around to shout at her son and ask him why he cares so much. “That’s my calculus teacher…” There had already been a parent-teacher night scheduled for a few weeks later. His father went alone.
IKEA, a City in Scotland
I used to work in IKEA in my student days, in the Glasgow, Scotland, store. When it was newly opened, an elderly Irish guy and his wife stopped me and asked where IKEA was. I explained that they were in IKEA and they couldn’t understand. They had arrived at the ferry port in Ireland that morning and decided that they’d go on a day trip to somewhere they hadn’t been before. When they arrived at the port in Scotland, there was a dedicated IKEA bus. They thought IKEA was an actual place in Scotland and didn’t realize it was a shop.
I walked away laughing as I could hear them blaming each other for the mistake!
A Little More Than a Love Tap
I was planning kitchens at IKEA. Once, I had a couple who could not decide which worktop they should choose, and when the woman had had enough of the debate, she hit the man in the face with her phone and left.
Just Your Typical Black Friday
Two words: Black Friday. It was 9:55, and we open at 10. We were almost done getting ready. All that we had left to do was put out a children’s kitchen set. What we didn’t realize was that it was 50% off. I only had two pallets left to put out when the store opened and the horde came.
They were crazy: sprinting, pushing and shoving. They fought to get to these kitchens, and when they noticed my pallets, they tore them open and took the boxes. Eventually, one woman started screaming and attacked the guy who took the last one off of the pallet, not noticing the two full pallets. I had to pull her off him, and security came. After about 10 minutes, the chaos ended, and I cleaned up.
At that point, an elderly couple came and asked if there were any kitchens left, and I put one in their cart as my coworkers laughed at what had just occurred.
The Mystery Fight
I was organizing some products when I noticed an older couple walking past me. The man stopped and commented on a rug, saying it was nice. The wife replied, “That won’t fit in our home.”
The guy immediately growled back, “Oh come on, we both know what this is about. You think I’m stupid! I’ll show you stupid.” He then grabbed the rug and angrily stomped off. The lady just kept walking as if nothing had happened.
An Adult Temper Tantrum
This guy didn’t have a receipt to return a used duvet and was told he couldn't return it. He threw a fit. Security came, and he wouldn’t move. The cops came and he finally did move.
Then, he came right back in and laid on the floor screaming, refusing to leave without his money. A bigger cop came in, not taking any of this guy’s nonsense, and handcuffed him.
His screaming intensified to a loud shriek when he was finally escorted out. This whole ordeal lasted about half an hour.
IKEA, Those Cheapskates
I work in IKEA food. I had one customer claim that he was a “big guy” and wanted me to put extra food on his plate. I explained that I can’t, as we have to stick to a portion size, and that he could add a side plate for $1.99. He then yelled that we are all cheapskates, stormed off to his family, brought all the plates of food that we made for them and told us that he was going to bring his family somewhere good.
What Happens When You’re a Brat
A bratty teenager and her mom were about to pay for their over-$1,000 transaction. The mom suddenly said, “You know what? This girl here doesn’t deserve any of this. Put it all back.” I’ve never seen a teenager completely lose it until that shift. I feel bad for my co-worker who had to do my go-backs.
There’s No Such Thing as a Quick Trip to IKEA
I went to IKEA last year with two friends of mine, a husband and wife, who own a pickup truck and can haul stuff. I needed exactly two things: a desk and an office chair. They were just going to look around while I shopped. I walked into the store, picked out a desk and a chair, and wrote the numbers down. I was in and out of the office section in 90 seconds.
Too late. Their attention had already been grabbed, and they spent the next 20 minutes discussing potential couches, chairs, dressers, beds, etc., all of which culminated in my friend saying the single worst thing he could have said in the moment: “This will be such a pain to move.”
“We’re moving? Why are we moving?”
“You know I’ve always wanted to move to Colorado.”
“Then why did I just leave the job I loved for the more permanent job here?”
What followed was no shorter than a 15-minute screaming argument in the middle of IKEA, which continued through the warehouse, through the checkout line and into the parking lot. The argument started over him wanting to move and her wanting to stay, but quickly progressed to jobs, school, families and children and ended when she snatched the keys from his hand, screamed a torrent of obscenities at both of us and drove off.
A guy came in and wanted something that we only had “in the air,” so it would require a forklift to get the product down, which we don’t do with people in the store for fairly obvious safety reasons. I told him we could get it down right after the store closed, but that was not an acceptable answer.
He proceeded to lose it on me, demanding I bring out a forklift and take it down now. As this is happening, his wife and two small children walk up. I say, “Well sir, just imagine that your children are in the aisle when the forklift comes out and an accident occurs. Your children could be crushed by a falling pallet, the arms of the lift or any other number of possibly fatal incidents.” His response: “I don’t care at all about that, I just want you to get my freaking table.” I didn’t have to continue the conversation. His wife took care of it.
Fight for Your Retail Rights
In Beijing, IKEA’s a magnet for all age-55+, retired single people. They sit in the cafeteria all day sipping on a coffee or nothing. There are no tables left for anyone else to sit down. Finally, management set up a one-hour rule. This rule lasted two days. The locals brought in all their friends and relatives to sit in all the chairs. Then, they proceeded to chant and yell that their rights were being violated. You can’t really call 911 in China (110). The police come, look around and tell you, “Yes you have a problem. Goodbye.”
The Pet Policy Is Non-Negotiable
I’m working as the greeter one day when a family of three walks in. As they’re walking through the door, the family is mid-conversation. I hear the daughter say, “What are they going to do, kick me out?” So now I’m instantly curious. I give her a quick check and realize she has a chihuahua in her purse. I stroll up to them and say, “Welcome to IKEA, but I’m sorry the dog cannot come inside.” Then we go through the whole “Why not? Because. Why not? Because we serve food” scenario. The daughter then starts losing it. “It’s 90 degrees outside and I don’t have water,” she says. So I tell her she can wait outside while someone goes into the marketplace and buys a dog bowl and water and brings it out to her.
She literally starts screaming. This lady is in her twenties easily. It is at this point that the father loses it and just starts yelling at her: “I told you to leave the dog home. I don’t know why you have to bring it everywhere you freaking go. Now I have to deal with this nonsense.” So the daughter went outside and the father went to the marketplace while I sat uncomfortably with the mother in the entrance for a good half hour until her husband came back.
Furniture Before Wife
I saw a guy in the carpark of the Newcastle IKEA cramming a ton of furniture into his small car. His wife stood next to him literally screaming about how much of an idiot he was for buying so much, how they aren’t going to fit in the car now and how he is putting all this furniture together alone because it’s his “stupid stuff we don’t need.” The husband replied, “No, you won’t fit in the car now,” and drove off.
They Didn’t Get the Lamp
As my wife and I were finishing up and walking to the registers, the couple in front of us was somewhat quietly arguing about something in their cart. Finally, it came to a head when the woman in front of us said something along the lines of, “I just don’t understand why we aren’t getting the lamp.” And at that point, her partner lost it. He turned to her and quite loudly yelled, “I WILL SNAP YOUR NECK.”
They didn’t get the lamp. They did, however, give my wife and me a line to say to each other in jest every time we’re at IKEA.
The Man Baby
An older gentleman in our baths department was ranting about how “cheap” the furniture is, banging on things, etc. He tried to slam a drawer, but it soft-closed on him. Oops. Your tantrum was foiled by quality furniture.
You Don't Want to See Her Without That Cookie
One time, a lady came up to me freaking out that IKEA had discontinued her favorite cookie. I had to call the manager. She yelled at him that her therapy dog had just died and she NEEDED that cookie.
Drinking Fountains Are for Peasants
I work in the bistro area, and I once had a customer scream and threaten a coworker when he was told he couldn’t get a cup for water. We only have one kind of cup in the bistro. It costs a dollar and is counted as inventory, so we can’t give them out for free.
When my coworker told the guy this, he flipped out said IKEA is pure garbage and that we are operating illegally by not providing him water (we aren’t because there’s a water fountain to the right). He begins to call my coworker a piece of trash and approaches me, asking for a cup. I tell him the same thing, which only angers him further.
Once I point out the water fountain nearby, he says he won’t use it because he isn’t a “peasant.” He says he’ll come back to deal with me and my coworker for trying to profit off his dehydration. Needless to say, I never saw him again and my coworker and I shared a good laugh.
Shopping With the Ex
I was selling a kitchen to a couple who kept arguing, louder and longer than usual. After the man walked away, the woman said, “This is why we are divorced.”
Please Sign Here
I worked at the register at IKEA when I was a student. An educated and well-dressed gentleman was paying by card. I told him the usual stuff: “Here is the receipt. Please sign here.” He stared at me like I just killed his favorite cat and yelled, “I know that! Don’t you dare talk to me like that!”
Sometimes You Just Have to Cry It Out
I once saw a girl break down crying after she saw that the bed she had bought a week before was marked 80% off on final sale. She was shouting at her boyfriend, “But we bought this last week! I can’t believe it! So much money down the drain!” Then she just sat on the bed and started to sob.
What’s a Dollar Worth to You?
At the checkout of the restaurant, an 8-ish-year-old boy was talking to his dad.
Son: “Can I have a pop?”
S: “Why not?”
D: “Because it’s a dollar.”
S: “You can’t even spend a dollar on your son?!”
The Customer Is Not Always Right
This man marched up to me, phone in hand and family in tow. He wanted to buy a certain clothes rack but he couldn’t find it “ANYWHERE” in this “STUPID STORE.” He showed me a picture on his phone, a screenshot from a website with no context. I hadn’t seen that clothes rack before. I asked if he knew the name of it. He replied, “No, that’s YOUR job.”
He was getting even more worked up by then, but I couldn’t search with just an image. I checked our store’s website and I couldn’t find the clothes rack anywhere. I asked if he was sure he looked at our store’s website specifically. (Not all IKEAs stock the same stuff. Shocking, I know.) Immediately I could tell he felt insulted. “OF COURSE I LOOKED AT THE RIGHT WEBSITE.” I activated dumb-salesgirl mode and asked him to show me.
He pulled up the website, and there was the clothes rack. Quite clearly on Target.com.au. He noticed and stormed off wordlessly.
The Logic Holds
A girlfriend and boyfriend were having a minor argument. It ended when the girl yelled, “You two are identical twins! No one is going to think you’re gay if you go to IKEA with your twin brother!” And then stormed off.
The Many Places to Find Jesus
I was helping an older man buy a desk chair. After about 15 minutes of answering questions, he pulls out, “Have you found Jesus yet my son?” Stupidly I say, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking.” This man makes me pray with him over a Micke desk for over 45 minutes. His wife finally sees what he’s doing, apologizes profusely and literally drags him away by the ear.
The Manners You Teach Your Child
I saw this woman screaming like a lunatic that IKEA was out of something. I am surprised that IKEA was out of stock, but it happens. The funny thing is, she was holding her child’s hand the entire time.
IKEA Wrestling Match
I was working away when I heard an almighty screech. Turns out a guy was shopping with his mistress for some furniture and his wife and mother-in-law caught him as they did some shopping themselves. It turned into an all-out fight as the wife went for the mistress while the mother-in-law went for the cheating husband. I had to try to break it up while security was on the way. There was blood on the floor when they were eventually dragged out.
IKEA Can Be Dangerous
I work in IKEA maintenance, and people can be quite rude. One time a guy would not leave the auto-cart machine alone because it was taking a little bit of time to dispense a cart. He kept reaching in and pulling it. I walked up and told him not to, since it was under hydraulic air pressure, but he kept pulling. The cart shot out and slammed this guy in the shin. He lost it. He was cussing like a sailor, and his wife yelled at me to help him. It almost broke his ankle. I had to give first aid and call him an ambulance. I wish he would have listened.
Do You Even Lift, Bro?
I used to work in the loading zone. One day, a family (husband, wife and one kid) checked out and headed to the loading zone. The wife was the only one lifting, while the husband just talked to the kid. The wife snapped and shouted several times, “Is this how you treat your wife?!” I’ll never forget the embarrassment on the kid’s face.
Free Ice Cream Denial
We were having a deal on the meatballs, and for some reason, this lady’s order wasn’t ringing up properly. I was able to fix it almost immediately, but she had four kids under 10 years old hanging on her, hanging on the cart and punching each other while her husband was texting. She lost it, first at me and then at her whole family, and said she was never taking them out again. Then she asked for free ice cream, which I told her I was unable to do. Then she asked for my manager, who also told her no. She threatened to call corporate on us, all because her family was out of control and I accidentally misrang her meal.
Like You Mean It
I work in a smaller IKEA and word travels fast, so before this little boy was even downstairs on my floor, I heard a horror story about him throwing up in the sofa section upstairs.
Then, he got down to me.
This child was not sick like I expected, but he was actually forcing himself to throw up because he wanted to leave. His parents were so used to the situation that they had a huge backpack of clothes on hand and were changing him throughout the store every time he threw up. I think he threw up about five times before they finally got out of the store.