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What if I receive damaged furniture?

By Jeff Frank

There is a right way and a wrong way to receive furniture.

Taking a few extra minutes can end up saving you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars and dozens of frustrating hours, unsuccessfully attempting to get damaged furniture repaired or replaced.

Retailers will go to great lengths to avoid taking responsibility – if you allow them to.

  • Repairing or replacing furniture is expensive for retailers, often costing considerably more than the profit they originally made on your sale.
  • Delivery receipts and warranties are carefully worded to favor retailers over their customers – unless you are careful to follow the designated procedures for filing complaints.

Here are a few important rules:

  1. When you receive furniture, take all pieces out of the boxes and inspect them for damage. Do not let the delivery people leave until you have completed your inspection.
  2. If there are any damages at all, note them on the receipt.
  3. Report the problem promptly to the store or the online retailer who sold the product to you. Send photos of the damage and also of the receipt that shows that the delivery people also saw the damage.
  4. Notify the retailer immediately when you have a problem. You need to deal with the retailer, not the manufacturer. Manufacturers’ warranties always state that customers must first contact their retailers.
  5. Always pay for any major purchase with a credit card. Credit card companies are your backup.
    1. They can withhold payment from the retailer until your problem is resolved.
    2. Retailers will take action after being contacted by a credit card company.
    3. Debit cards do not always have this same protection. Credit cards are preferable when making major purchases.
  6. Consumer protection agencies are another backup. Retailers will respond to official complaints made by these agencies.
  7. You need to be equally cautious when you pick up furniture at a retailer’s warehouse.
    1. The receipt you sign may state that you have inspected the furniture and certify that you have accepted it in good condition.
    2. If you later find damaged pieces in the sealed boxes, retailers may claim the damage occurred during your transportation or set up. This is difficult to dispute if you have signed a receipt stating that there was no damage when you picked it up.

Damages and defects that are discovered after delivery fall under warranty provisions.

  • Warranties are written by legal advisors working for retailers and manufacturers.
  • The legal language in these warranties is designed to provide maximum protection for retailers and manufacturers against their customers.
  • Warranty language is made to appear consumer-friendly (in the large print at the top of the document) while including numerous exclusions and exceptions in smaller print that absolve retailers and manufacturers of responsibility for most common potential problems that are likely to occur.
  • Extended warranties are not a good deal for furniture purchasers.
    • Extended warranties are very profitable for retailers. They provide revenue while simultaneously voiding their own warranty coverage.
    • Extended warranties also void manufacturers’ warranties.
    • Extended warranty providers are basically insurance companies.
      • They make profits by avoiding costs for repairs.
      • Required repairs are subcontracted to the lowest bidders, not usually the highest quality craftspeople.

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