With a new house you're likely to buy some new furniture. Living in a new place means finding new, reliable furniture companies. Here's what I learned working with three different furniture companies in central Florida. Product quality and customer service differ significantly and there's one company you definitely want to avoid.
While I'm very comfortable with almost all aspects of building a home, decorating is a challenge. That's why a few favorite stores are important but none of them are located in Orlando. At first it appeared that my choices were to have my decorator friend collect furniture for me in New Hampshire or buy furniture in Phoenix and move it to Florida, really?
My first breakthrough came visiting a friend who had recently bought a condo in Naples, Florida. Here's my journey working with several furniture companies. My focus is on quality furniture as I tend to move fairly frequently and customer service dealing with problems. Grades in parenthesis …
- Pottery Barn (C) – appeared to have the best bunk bed for my granddaughter but getting delivery was a challenge …
- Rooms-to-Go (B+) – provided a similar bunk bed which I didn't pick originally because of the exposed hardware …
- Matter Brothers (B-) – had furniture styles I liked and about half the pieces were well constructed …
- City Furniture (F) – has multiple locations but no quality and lousy customer services … avoid this company!
- Crate & Barrel (A) – a favorite since the 1990s but there's no store in Orlando. Had second thoughts about City Furniture order so I drove an hour, to Crate & Barrel in Tampa.
Here's what happened plus lots of tips on how to deal with furniture companies. You need to read this to learn how to fight an unscrupulous company like City Furniture.
My granddaughter fell in love with this bunk bed style (steps) when she 4 years old and we were checking out houses in Celebration, Florida. Now that I'm moving here, it was time to check out bunk beds in all the furniture stores. Pottery Barn had the best bed so I ordered one in December, not minding that delivery would be delayed until the end of February … because my house closing had slipped to March.
Pottery Barn never called when the bed became available. When I called to schedule delivery in early May, they didn't have all the parts, really! They said they could deliver the bed at the end of May. I laughed because I left Florida for two months before the date they gave me. and I laughed.
Since they had charged my credit card now, they became an utter nuisance with emails or phone calls daily. Finally to stop this, stepping out of a class at Boston University, I explained I would not return to Florida until the end of July. More wrangling and finally decided Pottery Barn wasn't serious about their furniture business, so I cancelled the order!
Pottery Barn – C for quality furniture but extremely poor customer service.
PS If you want to learn more about bunk beds, here's all my research … Beds for Small Bedrooms.
When my granddaughter saw the pink bunk bed, she immediately said she didn't want a pink bed! She wanted blue and so her bedroom is painted blue and the sheets/comforter are blue.
After I cancelled the Pottery Barn bed, I headed over to Rooms To Go as they were my second choice. I walked around the showroom checking furniture quality to make sure I was comfortable with the store. Then I ordered Chloe's bed, a twin over full size bed plus a trundle as I expect I'll have lots of company living just 20 minutes south of the Magic Kingdom.
A few bumps in the road but so far, nothing I haven't been able to resolve:
- Their customer system would not accept my email address using domains I own … funny.
- While I found a dresser for the other guest bedroom, I refused to pay a separate delivery charge. Just because a company uses different warehouses shouldn't be my problem so no dresser.
- Scheduling, on time delivery and setup went smoothly. There were a few nicks and the installers told me to call the company.
- After Chloe spent one afternoon playing in her room, I found more defects and scheduled a service call. Rooms To Go was efficient from the initial call to the technician arriving on schedule, taking photos and completing his report. He explained they wouldn't make repairs in the house because it would create too much dust, nice!
- Two business days later, Rooms To Go called to explain they wanted to replace the damaged parts. They scheduled the visit for tomorrow, a week after the original service call. They appear to be very professional and easy to work with.
My only issue with Rooms To Go is the sneaky way they throw a 3 year warranty onto your invoice with no discussion. When I called to complain, they immediately agreed to remove the charges.
Rooms To Go – B+ for good customer service and would have been an A if furniture quality better.
Matter Brothers doesn't have a store in Orlando. I discovered them by accident when visiting a friend who had just bought a condo in Naples, Florida. We were out shopping for furniture for Jean's condo when I saw their store front so we stopped.
I liked lots of the furniture styles in Matter Brothers' showroom. Of course there's also the matter of furniture quality as I expect my furniture to last for 20, 30 or more years and survive a few moves. The first thing you want to check is how drawers are constructed. If they're not dovetail construction, time to move on. Of course there's more ways to review furniture but I'll leave that to another article.
Here's how my relationship went with Matter Brothers:
- In Naples, I ordered four chairs for the kitchen island with teal cushions. My decorator later told me not to use teal as it will go out of style quickly, so I was fine with cancelling the order when they called to say the manufacturer no longer had the fabric I picked.
- My concern from the beginning was delivery from Naples. When I got home, I got online and found stores near Tampa but disappointed nobody in Naples suggested this.
- Visited one of the Tampa locations and found several bedroom sets. When I followed up via email to order the furniture, I never heard back. Had to call the store manager to get in touch with sales person and finally placed the order.
- Scheduling and delivery went well until the end when I called, then wrote the following email. The lack of professionalism was surprising given everything else, including a nice overview of Matter Brothers' delivery process.
Matter Brothers – B- for quality furniture but less than stellar customer service!
Had my first overnight visitors, my friends with the condo in Naples. There was time to buy a new Keurig coffee maker but not enough time to get a dresser for the room where they stayed. This pushed me to stop by City Furniture again as all I needed was one more dresser and a few rugs.
When my New Hampshire decorator said she'd sold the dresser (shown above) several times, that's all I needed to hear and ordered it along with a lamp for the nightstand. The sales woman was excellent and we had a long discussion about their three year warranty program (why I discovered the problem with Rooms To Go) but I refused it. My position is I'm buying quality and if that proves to be wrong, I will get rid of a piece of clothing or furniture rather than deal with it … a waste of time.
So here's how my City Furniture story goes as it's still a work in progress:
- Purchased pieces Wednesday night, August 14th … and the next morning cancelled the rugs because I knew I could find better even if it took more time.
- They couldn't wait to deliver furniture, scheduling for the following Tuesday, August 20th When the driver missed his delivery window, I should have cancelled as I had to pick up my granddaughter.
- Left my handyman to inspect furniture and he noted problems with the middle (of 5) drawer, which binds making it difficult to open and close.
- Sales woman warned me I only had 24 hours to report problems. So I called customer service that night and waited 37 minutes. The next day spent 26 minutes reporting wobbly light switch so repairs could be done with single service call.
- Two weeks later, on Saturday August 31st (hurricane weekend) the technician could repair nothing! The drawer didn't bind as much but he didn't have replacement glides? And light repair wasn't on work order.
- Also discovered signs of mildew on drawer bottom when technician removed the drawer … OMG.
- Smart consumers will take a photo of the service record you're asked to sign, something I did do.
- When I told my friend Maria about the problems I was having, she asked if I'd checked City Furniture company reviews online and … no! That was a really dumb mistake on my part, one I won't repeat.
- Waited a few more days before calling City Furniture. Since the failed repairs:
- Tuesday 9/10 (10 days), I called to check on status of repairs? They promised they'd get back to me by end of day … didn't happen.
- Wednesday 9/11 (11 days), someone called to explain they would replace the dresser but didn't have one available until November 11th. When I questioned timing with respect to dispute I'd already filed, the company representative said he'd have to get a manager involved.
- Day 13 and waiting … but not optimistic that City Furniture will take the initiative to resolve.
- Monday 9/16 (16 days) I received a call from Eric. He wasn't aware of the back order (suspicious) and said he could schedule delivery of a replacement dresser on 9/21. I said I didn't trust the company and preferred to return the furniture and get a refund. Eric reminded me City Furniture has a final sale policy. He offered a $75 gift certificate for my inconvenience (same as when I reported problem, then in lieu of repair).
- Monday 9/16, I explained to Eric that I wasn't going to agree to anything until I talked to my credit card company. City Furniture isn't a company I want to do business with now or ever.
Warning to consumers. Read the City Furniture reviews and share this article with others. We need to help people protect their money when a company doesn't deliver what was promised. Why shouldn't I expect an $800 dresser to function properly?
City Furniture – F for unacceptable product quality and horrible customer service!
Since discovering Crate & Barrel in California in the 1990s, they've been one of my favorite furniture stores. Love their style and the quality of their products is solid. So when growing frustrated with the limited furniture companies in America's dream vacation land (Orlando, Florida), I decided it was time to drive over to Tampa.
Not surprising that in less than two hours I found several rugs, coffee table and credenza choices that I liked. But I'm something of a chicken when it comes to making big decorating decisions. That's why I love my long-time friend and interior decorator Jennifer Myers. She's been helping me since 2005 all the way through choices big and small, for my new home in Florida.
While I'll write later about how I made my final selections, here's how everything worked with a store that knows how to deliver great customer service:
- Walked around the store for ideas and things I could use in my new house. I had seen some blue canisters in the catalog but they weren't big enough to be practical.
- Took pictures of all the coffee tables and credenzas I liked. I'll share them later, along with Jennifer's feedback.
- Finally went through all the rugs (check them out here). On the second pass, Jamey came over to help. After showing him the rugs I liked and he worked his magic and showed me the blue version of one of my picks. Still love the blue rug but Jennifer said the one above would work better … and I trust her more than myself on decorating decisions.
- Crate & Barrel schedules delivery and gives you a reminder call the day before. But wait, the delivery company calls in the morning to confirm your two hour delivery window. Then the driver calls when they're a half hour away.
- Most amazing, Crate & Barrel told me ahead of time that their quality check in the warehouse prevented them from sending my sideboard … and 2 weeks later, it was delivered (see below and I love it).