Another week, another Tidy-Up Tuesday post. But for a change: when Tidy-Up Tuesday goes wrong.
Despite my love of all things IKEA we’ve had a massive IKEA fail in the form of the Kvartal curtain hanging system. A fail involving hundreds of dollars, five trips to IKEA in one week, and tears (mine). Such a fail that I wrote a letter. A real live, printed on paper, letter.
My husband and I bought our first house in 2002 when I was still a full-time university student. Since then we have furnished our home almost entirely with IKEA furniture. After I graduated there was only a brief year of double incomes before we had our first child and I started working part-time. As a family of five the variety of styles, functionality, and price of IKEA furniture can’t be beat. This morning I did a quick inventory of all our current IKEA furniture:
Office: desk top and legs; Besta shelving unit, bed frame
Playroom: Trofast toy storage, 2 Besta shelving units
Front hall: Wall units for shoe storage; shoe rack; chest of drawers
Studio: 3 Besta storage units
Kitchen: Table and four chairs
Dining room: Table, 6 chairs, bench
Family room: 2 Besta units, side table
Nursery: Chest of drawers
Boys room: Chest of Drawers
Master bedroom: King bed frame, side table, 2 chest of drawers
This doesn’t include the lamps and accessories and linens. Not to mention that as a photographer our walls are covered in framed photos. I stopped counting when I got to 27 Ribba frames on the upstairs and main level of our house.
I have blogged about my love for IKEA and how I’ve used IKEA to decorate and organize our home.
(That’s 15 blog posts in case you’re counting)
There is no doubt that we are an IKEA-loving family and so I can’t tell you how disappointed we are with our most recent experience involving the Kvartal curtain hanging system.
Make that 16 blog posts.
I have a studio in my home for my photography business and my husband recently hung five 9 foot long paper backdrop rolls in the studio near the ceiling. We purchased the Kvartal system with the intent of disguising the backdrop system when it wasn’t in use.
We installed the Kvartal ceiling fixtures with the intent of hanging two three-track rails (55 inches long) and two corner pieces so that I could pull the panel curtains out of the way (unveiling my backdrops) during my sessions.
There were no issues installing the ceiling fixtures but the corner track pieces need to come with a warning that the ceiling fixtures cannot be used in close proximity to the wall. Initially the top rails on the panel curtains could not make the turn through the track because it was only two inches away from the wall. We moved the ceiling fixtures out further only to discover that they now encroached too far in front of my backdrops and that the top rail still couldn’t make it through the transition piece (from the straight rail) through the corner rail. Although there are wall fixtures that you can use to hang the rails, they weren’t suited to our needs.
We assumed the problem with the corner track was related to the top and bottom rail system so we absorbed the cost of the panel curtains (which we had already cut) and using the gathering tape sold by IKEA. I sewed curtains and bought the hook/glide packages, which will also work with the Kvartal rails.
Once the curtains had been attached to the track we quickly realized the problem was not the previous top/bottom rail system we had tried but the track itself. The curtains moved freely on the rail until they came to a transition piece (we had five). The rollers would not pass through the transition pieces and the gathering tape at the top of the curtains was so fragile that the cord ripped when we tried to pull them through. We tried feeding the rollers through the transitions (some would pass through, others wouldn’t); my husband took the tracks down, adjusted them and put them back up again; irrespective of any adjustments we made the rollers would not pass through the transitions.
Wondering why we cut the tracks and added transitions, which was likely the root of our problems? The system is intended to be cut and IKEA even sells a saw to adjust the rails to your needs:
At this point we have spent $307.78 and $217.81 has been returned. We have made four trips to IKEA (280 km) and spent over 10 hours either driving to/from the store and trying to get the curtain system to work. With three young children at home (the littlest only 2 months old) we don’t have the time or money to dedicate to this inconvenience.
When my husband tried to explain (repeatedly) to the customer service representative that he was returning the cut rails and curtain panels because they are defective, she just pointed to the sign behind her indicating that products that have been cut cannot be returned. This is a completely understandable store policy given the nature of IKEA’s products; however, we are trying to return a product that does not work. The top/bottom rails and the hook/guide systems do not pass through the transition pieces on the rails meaning that the product does not function as it’s intended.
In the end I spent another $40 to purchase fabric and yet another 2 hours to sew a curtain that I hung on a curtain rod over the backdrop rolls.
After 10+ years of IKEA furniture ownership we have no doubts about our abilities to follow IKEA directions and assemble their products. We’ve certainly taken hours and hours to assemble furniture before but we’ve never had a product that just didn’t work. As an entrepreneur and small business owner I’m disappointed by the unnecessary expense but what I find most frustrating is the lost hours and frustration over a product that, in the end, didn’t even end up working. According to several staff members the Kvartal has a high return ratio compared to other IKEA products so I’m curious as to why it’s still for sale without added directions/instructions or (best case scenario) removed from your catalog.
I look forward to your response.