By Joel Walsh
Furniture sales have historically been a major area of
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
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
of information in writing. The written policies regarding
shipping, warranties (if any), and customer service will
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
ordering the furniture you want to order. As with an offline
furniture store, you will have to pay to return any
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
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
photograph trail. A common consumer furniture complaint
offline stores is that the furniture that was delivered did
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
not meet expectations. If you make sure the model name or
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 information.
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
in transit when it never shipped.
Credit and Finance: Fewer Traps
According to the website consumeraffairs.com, furniture
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
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
in your dispute. In an extreme case where the furniture does
arrive or arrives in bad shape, your credit card provider may
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
of the Better Business Bureau, the Bureau can do little to
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
logo displayed prominently on the order page. Click on the
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
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: www.bedroomfurnitureusa.com
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