How much should I ask for in compensation for overdue furniture?
March 24, 2013 1:43 PM   Subscribe

I ordered a 2-piece sectional sofa 15 weeks ago, and it was supposed to be delivered in 8-10 weeks. Half of it was delivered at 8 weeks, the other half is still missing. How much should I ask for in compensation as the delivery gets later and later, and what's the best way to handle asking for such compensation?

In mid-December I ordered a 2-piece sectional couch from a national chain that sells furniture and home accessories (think Pottery Barn, but not actually them). Delivery was supposed to take 8-10 weeks, because of special order upholstery. One piece of the sectional was delivered as expected during the 8th week after the order was placed. At that time I called to find out when we could expect the other piece, because our living room is pretty lame with half a couch. The customer service rep expressed surprise that the pieces were not delivered together, and began to look into the problem.

In the 6 weeks since then, I have called them or their CS reps have called me at least 10 times. They have sent multiple inquiries to the vendor (each time requiring 3-5 business days for a response). I have been told twice "it's shipping tomorrow" only to have it not ship. Now I have been told it shipped a week ago, but they don't know why they don't have any tracking information, so they have sent another inquiry to the vendor. I remain unconvinced that it actually shipped.

At this point it has been 15 weeks since the original order, and there is still no sign of the second half of our couch. The CS representative has promised that there will be some sort of compensation for the delay, but says they can't apply any discount until the second piece is actually delivered. I am definitely going to demand that the $75 delivery charge be waived, but I don't feel like that in itself is adequate. The later this thing gets, the closer I am to demanding that they not charge us for the second piece at all.

OK, honestly, I suppose that's probably unreasonable. My frustration is high not only because of the late item, but even more because we've been living with half a sectional in our living room for 6 weeks. It looks stupid, it's uncomfortable (the linking end has no armrest, so the tendency is to fall off that end if you sit over there), and we've had to decline hosting several social gatherings that we really wanted to have in our home because our seating situation is ugly and inadequate. I'd be less upset if the entire order was late, so we could have just kept our old furniture in place.

Please help me see through my frustration and come up with a reasonable expectation of what kind of compensation this company should be providing. I'd love your thoughts about what I should ask for if the 2nd piece is delivered this week (15 weeks since the order). And now that I'm jaded by experience, I could also use some advice for how that figure would change if the delay continues for another week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks...

Finally, my husband says we'll have more negotiating power if we refuse delivery until they commit to a compensation figure. But the service person says they can't commit to a figure until the delivery takes place. Should we refuse the delivery until an agreement on compensation is reached?
posted by vytae to Shopping (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're that frustrated you might consider returning the entire set and cancelling the order. Tell them to come get the half they delivered and refund you for the original delivery charge. Cite their inability to deliver the complete set on time as promised and tell them that you consider it breach of contract.

Start from there, or start at least from the threat of that and see how willing they are to work with you. If you feel appeased then consider working with them again.
posted by kalessin at 1:48 PM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

At this point, I'd just send it back & cancel the order. I'd bet the odds are pretty good that the other half's fabric is going to be from a different dye lot & not match.
posted by belladonna at 1:53 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Return and cancel. Even if the other half shows up, it's likely not going to be from the same fabric bolt as the first half, and it may be slightly different in colour.
posted by kellyblah at 1:56 PM on March 24, 2013

If I didn't so love this darn couch, I would definitely have returned it for a refund by now. I'm not opposed to pretending I want to return it, in order to get them to work with me, but to be honest I'm a little afraid they would call my bluff. I spent many months looking for a couch and never found one I liked half as well as this one. I guess if the other piece shows up and the colors don't match it'll be a different story, though.
posted by vytae at 2:04 PM on March 24, 2013

As a data point, when something like this happened to us (at pottery barn) I went after them on social media (FB and Twitter) asking for help. We wound up getting the entire item for free (which was more than I wanted...I just wanted free delivery!).
posted by jeffch at 2:07 PM on March 24, 2013

It's not going to match.... unless your den is very low light, you won't be happy. I'd make them take the whole thing back.
posted by pearlybob at 2:10 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

dispute the charges through your credit card company and let couch seller know you did so. I work for a top ten internet retailer.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:22 PM on March 24, 2013

Return it, and if you really love it that much then wait until the entire process is done and then reorder the exact same thing and start over.

Or, you might want to try an executive email carpet bomb -- which is suggested by The Consumerist in cases such as this. Consumerist is also a great place to pose this question, by the way.

(The executive trick has worked for me in the past -- writing directly to the president of the company, though in my case I sent a hard copy letter.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:22 PM on March 24, 2013

Agreed on submitting your issue to Consumerist, especially as you state that you ordered it from a national chain. I had issues with a laptop last year, and submitted a complaint to Consumerist; the very next day, I had an email offering me a full refund.
posted by littlegreen at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2013

You can always reorder the couch. I'd be ticked to get a new, expensive couch from slightly different dye lots.
posted by barnone at 3:26 PM on March 24, 2013

I hate to echo this, but your two pieces are not going to match. The second piece was lost, probably. The manufacturer is making you a new piece but the fabric was no longer available and they had to reorder the fabric from somewhere far, far away. The odds of the second lot matching the first are very slim. And when the second non-matching piece is delivered, your bargaining power will be vastly diminished. Because it will be a slight variation, just enough to drive you crazy every time you walk past it, but not enough for the company to refund your money. If you think their customer service sucks now, just wait until they've delivered the second piece. Just cancel the order and move on. Call them tomorrow and demand a full refund. If they refuse, which I'm betting they will, dispute the charge on your credit card. If the second piece has actually shipped (which it hasn't), they won't stop delivery and you will have time to make sure it meets your standards. Then you can negotiate from a better position, and I'm betting they tell you to just keep the couch instead of shipping it back to them. As much as you hate to, just cut your losses and move on.
posted by raisingsand at 8:00 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't really understand all the it's not going to match thing - but if that's a real concern, then you should ask them to deliver an entire new sectional (both pieces) and take back the piece that you currently have.
posted by echo0720 at 8:14 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Huh. I've only ever heard about dye lots mattering in the context of bridesmaid dresses, so all the emphasis on mismatched upholstery is surprising to me. I'm still debating whether to wait and see if the second piece looks terrible, vs. cancelling ahead of time before they even deliver it. Disputing the credit card charge might be dicey, as the couch was purchased using the store's in-house credit card. We were trying to earn points toward future purchases at this store, but future purchases are now significantly less likely for obvious reasons.
posted by vytae at 8:40 PM on March 24, 2013

I think that cancelling ahead of time is best. It gives you more leverage if you decide to re-order the piece again in the future if it looks like they have their shit together.

If you keep working with them over their failures you run the risk of having them decide that dye lot mismatch is too trivial a reason for them to keep working with you and you'll end up bearing the burden of that decision.

If you formally cancel, then you can decide at your own pace to work with them again in the future. Or not. And you don't have to risk having to eat shit just because some manager or employee is making a power play for your cash/credit.
posted by kalessin at 9:04 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just got off the phone with their customer service department. They reassured me that the vendors receive huge rolls of upholstery from the same dye lot to be used over several months, and therefore the pieces should not be different colors in any way. But she also sent me an email in writing stating that if we feel the colors are off they will replace the whole set free of charge and let us keep the non-matching set until the replacement arrives. So far they've refunded all the fees and shipping/handling charges, plus given us 25% off the entire order. Depending on much longer this takes I might push for more, but at the moment I'm satisfied.
posted by vytae at 1:26 PM on March 27, 2013

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