Retail Horror

Thinking about ordering your furnishings yourself? I used to let my clients order for themselves all the time. Not infrequently I’d hear that they found it really frustrating, but I couldn’t figure out why they were finding it so hard. I mean, how hard can ordering and receiving furniture be?

Well… it’s not that hard to place the order, but what happens afterward might be enough to make you want to pull out your hair! I learned this the hard way when I ordered a few dining chairs and a bench from a well-known national retailer.

The first snafu I hit was that the retailer delivered just one chair. Annoyed, I reached out to their customer service, which is when they told me they didn’t have any more of that chair, and they needed me to send back the one they’d delivered. Now, bear in mind that this chair was delivered without a box, and yet they thought it was reasonable to ask me to go buy a box, find a way to pack up a chair, and send it back – even though this was their error. 

Meanwhile, as I’m dealing with this chair issue, I find out that the bench I’d ordered (which I’d been told was in stock when I ordered it) was actually back ordered – it would be months until it would arrive. Now, back orders happen, but in this case, I was able to see that it was in stock with my trade resource, so I tried to cancel the order with the retailer. That’s when I was told it was a “custom item” and couldn’t be canceled. Well, that was a flat-out lie since I happened to know exactly what brand made the bench and that it was a mass-produced, stocked item. They canceled the bench but still charged me the shipping fee, which is crazy considering it was back-ordered and hadn’t been shipped. NUTS, right?! 

I wondered if I, as a designer, encountered these challenges, what must it be like for my clients? How would a regular homeowner navigate these ridiculous expectations from the retailer? It made me realize the importance of guiding my clients away from such complexities and saving them from unexpected hurdles.

The big takeaway? Sometimes, the “straightforward” path of ordering retail can turn into a frustrating nightmare of bureaucratic absurdity, and letting your designer navigate it can make all the difference to your experience and stress level. While there are instances when my clients will order for themselves, for most projects I (or the contractor) take on the responsibility of ordering for my clients. This way, they won’t have to deal with the confusion and delays I faced, because if something goes wrong, I will deal with it.  As a member of the trade there are dedicated sales reps to help us with issues, thank goodness! 

Does it cost extra money to have someone do all the dirty work for you? Or course. It just comes down to how you want to spend your time, money, and energy. If the budget allows, please let me take that stress and hassle off your shoulders!