|Furniture sales have historically been a major area of consumer
complaints. Luckily, there are a number of reasons why buying
furniture online may be safer than offline.
No Fast-Talking Salesmen
Many complaints say the furniture salesperson made promises that
were not kept. In reality, furniture salespeople don't always
know what they're talking about. The actual fulfillment of
furniture orders is often handled by a different department, or
even a different company.
Not having salespeople hanging around makes online furniture
It's All in Writing
By their very nature, online furniture stores have to put a lot
of information in writing. The written policies regarding
shipping, warranties (if any), and customer service will almost
always be easy to access. (Hint: look for links to written
policies at the bottom of each web page.) The fact that
everything is written down gives the online furniture store much
less wiggle room to change the terms of the deal.
* Save or print out the web pages that describe the furniture
you have ordered and the web pages for important policies and
guarantees (which may change after you order), along with any
confirmation pages or emails. That way, if you ever have a
dispute, you have a firm basis to make your case.
* If the web page describing the product does not have a model
name or product number, make sure you get those at checkout or
at some other point before paying. Make absolutely sure you are
ordering the furniture you want to order. As with an offline
furniture store, you will have to pay to return any merchandise
you ordered by mistake.
* If you do speak with a salesperson on the phone, don't
undermine the paper trail by accepting promises over the phone.
Ask the web address for the written policy, or for a follow-up
email outlining any promises made.
Almost as good as online furniture stores' paper trail is their
photograph trail. A common consumer furniture complaint against
offline stores is that the furniture that was delivered did not
look like the model in the showroom. With online furniture
stores, you are buying based on a photograph. You can save the
picture onto your computer in case the delivered furniture does
not meet expectations. If you make sure the model name or number
is included on the order form at checkout, you can also
double-check what the model looks like by going to the
Less Delivery Wiggle Room
Late shipments are another common complaint against offline
furniture stores. Furniture frequently arrives as much as one to
two months later than salespeople indicated.
Online furniture stores will generally ship directly from the
warehouse within a few days to a week of your order. Once again,
you can easily check the written shipping policy for more exact
Another great thing about online furniture stores is that they
are generally using third-party delivery companies. If you get
the name of the delivery company while ordering, you may at
least be able to check with the delivery company itself in the
event of a late order. A third-party delivery company makes it a
little more difficult for the store to claim the furniture is in
transit when it never shipped.
Credit and Finance: Fewer Traps
According to the website consumeraffairs.com, furniture stores'
financing deals are notorious for breaking laws regulating
credit and loans. That 0% interest deal might not be as great as
you thought if it comes packed with expensive penalty charges.
Or you might find that the qualification requirements are too
high for most people to get the low rate. Worst, since it's the
furniture store that's making you the loan, you've essentially
already paid them before taking delivery of the furniture. If
you later find out your furniture is going to be delivered
unacceptably late, you may have a hard time canceling your
order. The situation is no better for cash.
Online furniture stores generally do not offer financing.
Instead, they accept credit cards. If a furniture store does not
deliver the merchandise as promised and will not resolve your
complaint, your credit card issuer may be able to help you in
your dispute. In an extreme case where the furniture does not
arrive or arrives in bad shape, your credit card provider may be
able to force a refund.
Better Business Bureau's Convenient BBBOnline
Many consumers who have complaints with a furniture store turn
to the Better Business Bureau. But if the store is not a member
of the Better Business Bureau, the Bureau can do little to help.
Contrary to common belief, the Better Business Bureau is not a
government agency and cannot enforce judgments. The Bureau
primarily works to resolve disputes between consumers and its
With online furniture stores, it's easy to check for Better
Business Bureau membership. The store should have the BBBOnline
logo displayed prominently on the order page. Click on the logo
to be taken to the BBB.org web page for that store. The web page
should say that the store is a member in good standing.
With the BBBOnline, the Bureau's ecommerce program, you can
dispute a sale without having to go to the local Bureau where
the store is headquartered, anywhere in the US.
Of course, if you're too trusting and don't look for written
policies, Better Business Bureau membership, or save receipts,
you can still be snookered by online furniture stores. But you
could also be taken in by offline furniture stores. For a
careful shopper, online furniture stores make it much easier to
dot all the I's than it would be offline. The experience is
straightforward, low-pressure, and mostly in writing.
In short, while you should always be careful, online furniture
stores make being careful a lot easier.
About the author:
Joel Walsh is a freelance writer. Check out this website for a
Better Business Bureau-member seller of discount bedroom
furniture: http://www.bedroomfurnitureusa.com [Publish this
article on your website! Requirements: 1. Live link for above
URL/web address.2.Link anchor text: "discount bedroom furniture"
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