Misadventures at Ikea…

Image Credit: Flicker- slimmer_jimmer

We have officially been in Germany for one week. Sure, we have explored the city a little and have seen this and that, found a grocery store, etc., etc. But where, oh where, have we frequented the most since our arrival?


Yes, it’s true. I wish I could give a much swankier answer to that question, but that’s not the case. There’s something about not having a kitchen or any furniture at all in your apartment that makes you run as fast as possible to this humongous European establishment. At least, that was the case for us.

We made our first trip the day after we arrived in Hannover. 1 bus, 2 trains, a good amount of walking and about an hour of travel time later and arrived at the big blue warehouse fondly know as IKEA. We ordered measuring service for our kitchen, started planning out what items we wanted to purchase, purchased a lamp and a mop and made our way back home. That was Friday.

A good portion of the days that followed consisted of reading the IKEA catalogue, selecting furniture, measuring our rooms and then taping everything out on the floor to see how things would fit.

By Monday we were ready to go back to IKEA and purchase furniture for our guest room, living room and dining room. We got up early, traveled to IKEA and then spent pretty much the entire day writing down furniture numbers, checking the current stock of things, and then pulling all of the boxes for our furniture from the warehouse. There were two of us and in the end we had four, completely loaded, carts worth of boxes. It was not easy, and we got a lot of strange stares, but we managed; and, by the time we made it to the check-out (10 hours later), we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves and excited about our new stuff.  We quickly and efficiently loaded the smaller things onto the counter, and pointed out bar codes on the larger boxes for the cashier to scan.

And then disaster struck.

The cashier quoted the price, I handed him my Visa, and he gave it back to me saying they don’t accept Visa. “Ok, no problem,” I thought, knowing that most places in Europe only accept Visa OR Mastercard, and that I had come prepared. I handed him my Mastercard. He looked at me, confused, gave it back to me and then, explained  (in German of course) that they only accepted cash or European debit card.

What? Really?


Oh crap.

We didn’t have that much cash on us, and, even through he pointed us to an ATM, we knew that the amount extra we needed was far beyond what our daily ATM limit was in Europe. By now the cashier was a bit perturbed and there was a long line of antsy customers forming behind us. Sweat began dripping down our foreheads as we looked back and forth at each other and the cashier in terror. In our best, and very broken German, we told the cashier we couldn’t pay for our things. Sigh. Was this really happening? Yes, it was. 12 hours at IKEA that day and nothing to show for it but this blog post. (and, ironically, a few pictures of us happily standing in line with our 4 carts before we tried to check-out and disaster struck-  unfortunately those too are on the camera with no computer cord- I’ll post them as soon as the cord comes).

Lesson #2 in Hannover: IKEA in Germany doesn’t take credit cards.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the IKEA saga… oh yes, there is more…

7 Responses to “Misadventures at Ikea…”

  1. Shauna writes:

    Oh NOOOOOOOoooo!!! And after ALL that work! Yikes!

  2. Erin writes:

    OMG I am so sorry 🙁 I have been there (way not as tragic) when I left my wallet at work after shopping for a couple of hours…but nothing compared to TEN HOURS OF IKEA HELL. I have been in so many fights after about hour 2 of IKEA perusing 🙂 You are strong and you will get through this!!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!! (and at least it’s not hours wasted at a worse store…like…um…the DMV? Not really a store. But bad.)

  3. Emily writes:

    Eeesh! So sorry. I’m actually surprised Ikea doesn’t take credit cards, but in general, you’ll find that a German debit card is accepted most places but credit is not. And smaller places of business always want cash. I hope you get your debit cards soon and get it straightened out.

  4. Bettina writes:

    Hi, I’d be happy to help you get settled and finding your way around Hannover. Also, I have a car, so that could make the next trip to IKEA go a little smoother.

  5. Aunt Theresa writes:

    Oh my Lisa. Your story is better than a novel! I felt SO lost when we moved to Germany. And I kept wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. The first time I went grocery shopping, tears rolled down my cheeks! But you know what? They transformed into some of the most interesting and memorable years of our lives! After 5 years, I didnt want to leave. I am so proud of the fact that you found your way to IKEA AND had done such good job of planning for your apartment. Hang in there!

  6. DD writes:

    I found your blog through “Making This Home”. We currently live in Germany and love it here, but it definitely takes some time to settle in. We also discovered early on that most stores do not take credit cards when buying our washing machine, but we hadn’t been shopping for 10 hours. Until you have your German debit card, I would suggest always taking cash when going shopping. Good luck with the rest of your move!

  7. Blue Cakes Blogger writes:

    Thanks everyone for your well wishes. Drew and I are keeping a good attitude about all the craziness with IKEA. You live, you learn. It’s all part of the adventure! 🙂

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