Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My IKEA kitchen hell

Tuesday 15/07/2008 go to IKEA and order an "Applad" off white kitchen and matching marble countertop at IKEA.  It takes 5 hours and is exhausting. Not all parts are available. The staff in the kitchen department say that parts will be kept back on our behalf when they arrive.  It costs about 13000 shekels for the kitchen 3000 for the countertop.  It is slightly cheaper then the cheapest supplier I have been able to find and is the only supplier who can promises almost immediate delivery.

Thursday 17/07/2008 IKEA deliver kitchen (in boxes). cost:350 shekels

Thursday 24/07/2008 an IKEA sub-contractor comes and measures the kitchen.

Friday   8/08/2008  the same IKEA sub-contractor comes and puts the kitchen together - except for missing parts and corrections.  He gives us a pile of bits to return and list of missing parts to request, most of which are doors: the kitchen has no doors.  The subcontractor costs 1600 shekels for two visits.  The idea is that he puts up what he can on the first visit and then after we collect the missing parts he will do the remainder on a second visit.  This is the first visit.

Monday 11/8/08  The staff in the IKEA kitchen department tell me that Applad off-white has been replaced and the colours have changed. They send me to the customer service department, where I queue for 45 minutes and then am told that customer services will call "next day".  I am given an incident number: 810697.  The whole visit takes about 4 hours.  I now know most of the little short-cuts through the store.

After a couple of days I break and call customer services who tell me to be patient and that they will respond on Sunday.

Sunday 17/8/2008 customer services finally call to say the problem is simple.  IKEA have replaced the catalogue numbers but there is no change to the colours, I just need to wait for the new numbers to enter the store.

I then periodically call customer services (about 15 minutes each time), initially the parts are being shipped, then they are in port, then they are waiting arrival in store...

Thursday 3/9/2008 all the required parts except for one door are in the store.  I figure best to get what I can before it leaves the store.

Friday 4/9/08 14:00 We go to the IKEA store and discover that Applad colours have indeed changed from off-white to white. After an angry visit to customer services (we don't queue)  we are told to select all new white Applad parts to replace the off-white Applad that are now out of service (Applad is the only type we like) and then return to customer services.  

We go to the kitchen department and order new white fronts for the kitchen. Some parts can't be replaced because they have marble counter-top stuck to them but most can. So we will have a few stripes of off-white amid the white kitchen.  It may not be too bad as the dish-washer is white.

After the reorder I spend 30 minutes queuing for customer services. Shift manager Y. Fadlon of customer services promises that they will come and remove the parts that need to be replaced.  I have now paid for some parts of the kitchen twice.    

Finally I go to collect the parts (each collection requires a two hour wait after payment) and am told that 3 white doors are not in the warehouse, although payment has been taken - a computer error?
I go back to customer services (no queuing this time) Y. Fadlon promises they will be shipped at IKEA's expense the moment they come in and that they will call on Sunday.  My money is not refunded.  Given incident number 810697 (the same as last time).

I know some more short-cuts through the store.  Possibly all of them.

Sunday 7/9/08.  No one calls. At 17:00 I break and call IKEA services.   I talk to Martha. She tells me that they will call me back in two days  I insist she talk to her managers. she tells me her managers are called C. Itelberg (customer service phones) and L. Tapuz (customer service face-to-face). After a delay she promises that a "senior customer service person" called Levana, who specializes in kitchens, will call me the next day.

Monday 8/9/08 16:15 Levana calls.  She tells me she will try to locate the missing parts (off white) in foreign stores. Tells me to get as much done as possible in the off-white - that is to have the sub-contractor do his second visit and finish off what he can. She says they will pay for extra visits to build the kitchen and tells me to ignore the new white version, says that they will collect it from me.

I am now managing three inventories:

a. the missing off-white parts from the kitchen
b. the missing white parts from the kitchen
c. the white parts I have paid for but which IKEA have not supplied.

This is starting to confuse me - even the IKEA computer system finds it hard to manage this.

I also have a large bundle of receipts that I am trying not to lose and a large stack of IKEA boxes in my spare room.  I decide it is time to photograph the kitchen. I am  considering calling my lawyer for advice but fear the added cost.  I no longer have any idea how much this kitchen has cost but estimate that I have reached the 20,000 shekels mark although refunds may be eventually materialize.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Women in combat and victorious armies: Feminism at Tel Aviv University

In 1999 I was studying for an MA in Political Science at Tel Aviv University and was required to attend a lecture by Professor Azar Gat, head of the Diplomacy and Security program. The lecture was on the advisability of allowing women to take combat roles in the Israeli Army. The Israeli army requires women to serve two years military service and women were not allowed to perform combat roles.
The US army had changed its position some years earlier and there was a beginning of a debate in Israel.
The lecture hall at the University was bursting and most of the senior lecturers were there, including the one or two women on the staff. Gat's program is a way of drawing in senior officers to the University because they get points and pay rises for getting further degrees. Presumably the army also pays for their studies along the way. There were a few uniformed women soldiers in the audience.
Gat's lecture was dull.  I remember feeling astonished that he could make so much fuss about giving a lecture when he really had nothing to say.  He made a single point and it wasn't very interesting: If an Israeli woman gets taken prisoner it will be a major burden ad the army will have to pay a high price to release her.
Its kind of a loser's argument: Lets assume it all fails and then discuss the consequence of that.
I remember seeing Dr. Erika Weinthal, who had taught me, walk out in disgust.
In the course of the  lecture, Gat gave examples of armies which had allowed women to take up combat roles: The Israeli army in 1948, the Red Army in the Second World War and Russian Civil War, the US army in Iraq, the Vietcong, the Eritrean liberation front, Mao's Army. What struck me about his examples was that they were all victorious armies.  So during the post-lecture questions I raised my hand and at some point he got to me and I asked him how he explained that all his examples of armies permitting women in combat were victorious armies.
I still remember the moment.  Gat was stunned.  There was a silence in the room and I noticed a couple of the women in uniform turning, approvingly, to get a good look at me.  He stammered something about higher levels of mobilization and then said, something along the lines of "You know what, why don't you come and study with me and we'll figure it out".
Then I made a typical mistake.  I stood on my principles.  "No", I told him.  "That's your job!", "You explain it to me."
With hindsight I probably threw away my best shot at a career in academia.
The way I remember it, from that point on the lecture was basically over.  Gat had very little to say and my question had simply blown his lecture away. Within a year of that lecture, the Israeli army decided to open combat positions to women. I am quite sure (though I have no proof) that my question at that lecture was a key factor in the decision.  When it comes to military decision making, nothing trumps victory.

Recreating ancient kingdoms: Arab Nationalism vs Zionism.

Although Zionism and Arab Nationalism are at loggerheads over Palestine (or perhaps Southern Syria), the two have a certain amount in common...