back to article IKEA flat-packs TaskRabbit to crack assembly code

IKEA's finally acknowledged what plenty of us have learned the hard way: it's stuff can be so wretchedly frustrating to assemble that outsourcing the job is sometimes the kindest and fastest option. The born-in-Sweden, taxed-who-knows-where homewares company has therefore acquired an outfit called TaskRabbit that offers a …

  1. John F***ing Stepp


    I was hoping for 80586. . .

    1. Daniel von Asmuth

      Re: Damn

      Thank Gates! For a moment I feared they were trying to decompile the code my former employer sold them back in the nineties.

      Or better, we gave them computers and software, while our company got a load of office furniture. Nor Svenksva Kroner changed hands so presumably no taxes to pay.

  2. Mark 85

    Is this because of "Millennials " who may have seen exotic countries, lived at home with mom and dad for 20-odd years, and never had to do anything on their own or even <gasp> with their hands?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not only

      I have neighbours who have come from let's call it "warm and humid place". They will not do anything which involves assembly, maintenance, etc out of principle. The head of the family has achieved the stated goal established by the "Son In Law Development Plan". He has become a manager (actually low level PHB) somewhere. So the Mother In Law can now cart him around the village every summer glowing with pride: "See, my son in law is a manager, he does not do manual labour".

      To illustrate my point, as a result of not doing anything at all which can potentially involve the dirty manual labour thingie they ended up with seized brakes on his wife's bike. So he sees me in the standard Slavic position under the car with just my feet sticking out and asks: "Are you technical?". I really regret that my CCTV does not record voice as it was asked with an intonation which was somewhere in-between "Are you just sick, or it is a congenital condition". I had a look, told him all it needs is a couple of drops of WD40 and someone to move them a bit after that an GAVE him the WD40. The moment the wife returned picking up the kids from school I was given the WD40 back - though shall not violate the "Son In Law Development Plan", because Mama will be told and she will be very unhappy.

      We have imported several millions of these on H1B or their UK work permit equivalents. They will pay for this service because if they do not Mama will be unhappy. Son "has become". Son cannot do manual labour - it is inappropriate.

      It will take 50-100 years for this mentality to sort itself out. It WAS the same in Europe (especially Eastern Europe) ~ 70-80 years ago. It ended with the generation before our parents - they also approached it in the same manner. Starting from the generation after them, they could not longer afford the luxury of treating "being technical" as a congenital disorder.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Not only

        Well much as I mentally hold non technical people as some kind of lower class who should be paid minimum wage for "supervising" the clever technical people who do the work , that dosent seem to be the way the world works.

        At least your neighbours have a plan and a work ethic.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not only

        I see you are enjoy a closer connection to the society you live in than more recent arrivals, and are kind enough to set an example to them of how to live easily within your current social norms. Good for you!

      3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Not only

        Surely only the upper classes didn't fix stuff (having "a man" in to do things). I get called "50's man" for keeping our appliances and things running long after any normal person would have thrown them out!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Doctor Evil

          Re: Not only

          @Missing Semicolon

          Have an upvote from me just for doing that.

        3. Martin

          Re: Not only

          Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light

          Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!

          It is the business of the wealthy man

          To give employment to the artisan.

          Hilaire Belloc

      4. Sgt_Oddball

        Re: Not only

        I've managed to be the polyglot son-in-law and have proven than manual labour, it management and appreciation of fine drink can be achieved In the same person without shame. It also doesn't hurt that I introduced her to good beer and Yorkshire pudding.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "Is this because of 'Millennials' who may have seen exotic countries, lived at home with mom and dad for 20-odd years, and never had to do anything on their own or even <gasp> with their hands?"

      actually I see this as "job opportunity" for teenagers. Excessively high minimum wages and illegal immigration have basically left teens with very few good opportunities for earning money, RESULTING in things like "living with mom and dad for 20 years"...

      If I were a teenager, I'd do it. I used to do things like walking a lawnmower around the neighborhood looking for people in serious need of gardening help, then "do it for 5 bucks" - a one-time hit.

      pirate icon because, after all, I _AM_ a privateer!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If I were a teenager, I'd do it.

        IME, if you were a teenager today, you wouldn't know how to do it, or have the initiative to find out.

  3. frank ly


  4. Oengus
  5. Joe Werner Silver badge

    Reading a manual

    1) not reading manuals is a Y chromosome trait...

    2) the stuff is pretty self-explaining

    That said: could be useful for some. On the other hand: probably against the labour or tax laws etc in several countries. At least how it will work on practice. Those who assemble the stuff will not pay taxes on the little money they get, and not contribute to health and social insurance. And expect the public to pay for them later on.... but that's a general problem.

    1. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

      @ Joe Werner - Re: Reading a manual

      "A manual is a set of instructions to follow in a logical order, just follow the steps one by one. Nobody's asking to perform a quadruple bypass off a manual, so just get on with the basic stuff. If you can't do *that*, then there's something wrong with you" - that's what I used to tell myself until I became friend with a guy who has a degree in biosomething who could not put together a cabinet despite the clearly explained instructions. What would have taken me 10 minutes ended up taking 45 instead because he wanted to help. Then he cooked can't remember what, the food was delicious and it suddenly dawned on me: he assembled ingredients. No matter how easy the recipe is, I follow the steps one by one, but it just doesn't taste nice, or the way it's intended to taste, and the mess is the same as if I had cooked for everybody in India and China. Same with fixing punctures in my bike - some kids could do it in a few minutes, I'm 41 and ended up having to buy solid tyres ( which are a great invention ). I cycle everywhere, but GPS on phones changed my life because I'm useless at reading maps - I was in Barcelona with a non particularly bright ex and we went for a long walk. At some point he stopped before I could realise he brought us back to the hotel, through the maze of many tiny streets, without a map. All very basic things which I realised are my Achille's heels, while it comes natural to other people.

      So, in my experience at least, the Y chromosome can be very selective in what it decides to allow you to be able to do. I will never criticise anybody ever again for their hopelessness with something I find piss easy. Turns out I'm often equally useless with some stuff that others can do effortlessly

      PS - I am not saying you were criticising anybody in your comment! :-)

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: @ Joe Werner - Reading a manual

        Or you just can't be arsed and prefer to blame your chromosomal disposition for your lack of... what exactly. ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "1) not reading manuals is a Y chromosome trait..."

      Actually, only of a subset of them. You can trace that tract into other tracts and behaviours. There's another subset that actually *likes* manuals. It's the same for the XX people.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Reading a manual

      "1) not reading manuals is a Y chromosome trait..."

      I don't read manuals either. Having said that, I've never had my chromosomes tested, so who knows ...

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Reading a manual

        I always "read over" the manual, but when assembling furniture, you really do have to follow the procedure, to avoid the 'where does THIS panel go" problem, when you put the screws into the wrong one, etc. etc. and embarassingly have to remove them and put them into the RIGHT one...

        [I got used to following procedures in the military. sometimes it makes more sense to do that]

    4. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Reading a manual

      I think the service already exists here in Portugal. This is also one of the places where educated people (often) take pride in not doing anything practical.

      For me it is a choice. I do not mess about with my car as I make more money running my business, but assembling IKEA furniture is a welcome bit of meditation.

      I am a fan; You normally can't buy the materials for the same price, if you follow the instructions you end up with what the picture shows, the holes are where they are supposed to be, the bits fit together, and there is very rarely anything missing. People who complain have not tried the alternatives.

  6. FuzzyWuzzys

    Can't wait for the first call...

    "Hello? Yeah is that John Davis, yeah bought this Swedish thing and I can't get it up! It's tall and stiff and won't stay up long enough for me to screw hard. Can you help me? Hello?"

    An hour later, open the door...

    "Hello there, I'm PC Smith. We've had a report that disturbing and obscene calls can been made from this address to a local old-job worker."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't wait for the first call...

      You mean PCSO Smith about eleven weeks later

      1. barstewardsquad

        Re: Can't wait for the first call...

        You mean PCSO Smith about eleven weeks later

        No as the caller mentioned something of a foreign origin this would be logged as a hate crime resulting in the immediate deployment of Armed Response Units and a Graudian (sic) Reporter.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Can't wait for the first call...

          You might get a deployment of a Grauniad reporter, but you won't get an armed response unit unless you are a black or brown man.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new

    I bought a couch off Ikea roughly 3 years ago and they offered assembly back then.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new

      For some items, IKEA does offer assembly. I believe couches etc are part of that. 16 years ago, IKEA offered same for a bed frame.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new


      IKEA nearest me have long had a deal with local folk with vans (not all blokes) who will deliver stuff & assemble it (or just come and assemble it for smaller stuff that car owning punters can fit in their vehicles)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing new

      This way they are fully outsourcing the assembly work....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes, the dreaded Allen key!

    Which end goes in, again?

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Ah yes, the dreaded Allen key!


      The long end is for starting a bolt until the threads bite. Then you turn it round and make use of the extra leverage for final tightening.

  9. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    @Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

    Wise words, I can only try to be as tolerent as you. I'm almost there

  10. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    If you ask me everyone should assemble their own furniture by law It would teach practical skills that they may or may not have got elsewhere.

    Same for other areas , like cooking , reading writing

    We like to make sure everyone is literate , I would add knowing which way to turn a screwdriver to that list , and how to boil an egg , and a few other life skillz

    Otherwise where will it end?

    "what do you do?"

    "I'm a professional ass wiper for people who feel they arnt qualified or confident enough to do their own"

    Actually I think I just described Desktop Support .

    1. AndyS

      @ Prst. V.Jeltz

      > Complaining about other people's literacy levels

      > Writes "skillz"

      Tell me, what were you talking about again?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: @ Prst. V.Jeltz

        Yeah , that was to engage the kids (resisted another Z there)

        Also missed a couple of full stops and Cap letters. That was lack of effort.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @ Prst. V.Jeltz

          "Also missed a couple of full stops and Cap letters."

          And an apostrophe.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "If you ask me everyone should assemble their own furniture by law ... Same for other areas , like cooking , reading writing"

      It would make eating out interesting. Presumably TV would just show the scripts - can't have actors and newsreaders doing the job for you. And book-buying....

    3. Pedigree-Pete
      Thumb Up

      Re: Skillz.

      @Prst. V.Jeltz

      Can you add "Putting stuff in the dishwasher" to that anti millennial rant pls. PP

    4. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I don't think people should be forced to put furniture together, I think they should let me do it. It's basically just like big Lego, except less fun to play with once it's assembled.

    5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Some furniture makers assemble their product before it's sold, and probably do it better than the owner ever could. Cars... I don't know if a self-assembly automobile or "kit car" is even legal now.

      1. gypsythief

        Re: Kit Cars

        Kit Cars are certainly legal in the UK; Caterham sell them for £17k, ( which given that they go like greased shit off a lightening shovel is somewhat of a bargain compared to that over-priced Italian nonsense.

        I regularly see them (well, sunny Bank Holiday weekends, anyway) blathering along the B roads around where I live, and judging by the flies in the teeth of the drivers, they are rather good fun.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    No matter how many Taskers they have it wouldn't have made it any easier assembling the grand-kids desk. A component had half the holes drilled with the the component 180° out of alignment.

    1. xeroks

      "A component had half the holes drilled with the the component 180° out of alignment."

      hmm. Are you positive it - or possibly the piece it joined up with - wasn't the wrong way up?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Are you positive it - or possibly the piece it joined up with - wasn't the wrong way up?"

        No. Holes drilled in edges to take bolts. "Matching" holes to take cams drilled adjacent to opposite edge at other end of piece. Either the process missed out a 180° rotation or put an extra one in.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      In my experience that usually means you've simply swapped a left and a right somewhere...

      I've assembled plenty of IKEA and random brand flatpack stuff, I've NEVER experienced missing holes. Unclear instructions or my own stupidity a plenty, but unfinished holes, no..

      1. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

        Let's see - assembled near every piece of furniture - kitchen, wardrobes, various shelving units, tables etc...

        Never had any issues with missing components, miss drilled stuff etc...

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I've assembled plenty of IKEA and random brand flatpack stuff, I've NEVER experienced missing holes."

        It had all the right holes but not necessarily in the right order.

  12. Dabooka

    What a harsh bunch some of you are!

    I've done this very thing before for neighbours, friends and even a couple of colleagues. It's not just about following instructions is it, it's dexterity, strength and above all confidence.

    Bear in mind not everyone has the family resource to tap into with these things. Plus it always makes a nice change form 'setting up the broadband' kind of calls

  13. Chris King

    So now you can hire someone to squint at the three sets of instructions in the box (none of which matches the actual contents) while scratching their arse and saying "I can't work it out either" ?

  14. Colabroad

    Never had an issue with Ikea stuff myself, put up quite a lot of it over several houses for myself and elderly relatives over the years.

    I had an issue with an Argos wardrobe/dresser I was helping a friend assemble, turns out the instructions were actually wrong, I guess serves us right for buying British :P

  15. Sssss

    And the reason you want to pay a lot for flatpak you have to pay to get somebody else to assemble?


    Hey, can I have a Sig that says:

    "Can't we have headlines that actually tells us what the articles are about, or a serious viewing mode, where each author is responsible for supplying a serious title, or get fired?" everytime I post, so I don't have to repeat myself?

  16. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Did you know that politicians are forbidden to buy IKEA furniture?

    One loose screw and the whole cabinet falls apart.

  17. hatti

    Allen keys and shopping in large warehouses coloured bright yellow and blue are to be avoided.

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