5 On Your Side

Couple hopes for refund after Cary company fails to deliver furniture

Posted January 15, 2013

— When you buy furniture, you sometimes have to expect to wait a while to get it – weeks, even months. But an Apex couple has been waiting eight months for a custom bedroom suite from a relatively new furniture company in Cary, Carolina Farmhouse Furniture.

“So far, this is what we’ve got: a bed that was delayed in delivery and this is the rest of it,” Bill Nelson told 5 On Your Side, gesturing to an empty bedroom.

He and his wife ordered a bed, dresser, chest of drawers and nightstand last May. It was their 15th anniversary gift.

The total cost was $4,100 and they put down about $2,400.

“It’s kind of a nightmare waiting for it,” Nelson said.

Carolina Farmhouse Furniture got national attention when their woodwork was featured in an Extreme Home Makeover TV show filmed in Fayetteville. The exposure helped grow the business, which is probably part of the reason for the delays the Nelsons have experienced.

According to their invoice, delivery would happen sometime between July 9 and Aug. 20.

On July 19, after the Nelsons say they inquired about their furniture, they got an email from owner Kelly Utt-Grubb, saying the order wasn’t ready but that it “will not go beyond Aug. 20.”

The delivery never came.

The next email from Carolina Farmhouse, again in response to one the Nelsons sent, promised the bed and nightstand would be delivered Sept. 9. That didn’t happen either.

The bed, alone, finally arrived on Sept. 24.

Carolina Farmhouse Furniture Couple hopes for refund after Cary company fails to deliver furniture

“It will be eight months now and still no definite delivery for any furniture at all,” Nelson told 5 On Your Side.

He says the company’s response to his many phone calls and emails has been almost as slow as the delivery.

When he did talk with Utt-Grubb, “she made a point of telling me how there’s hundreds of people who are pleased with their product, which I said is good for them, but I am 100 percent not.”

A quick Internet search found plenty of other unhappy customers.

One wrote about countless emails and calls unanswered, empty promises and an extremely high frustration level.

Another complained about quality, saying one leg was too short. Carolina Farmhouse Furniture promised a replacement, but only gave excuses.

The one that caught Nelson’s eye involved a $1,200 desk ordered last July. As of late December, the customers still didn’t have it. 

Nelson read the headline from that customer’s complaint: “Carolina Farmhouse does not deliver on time. Tons of lies, broken promises and bullying."

When 5 On Your Side asked what Nelson thought after reading that headline, he told us that it summed up his entire experience.

After calling Carolina Farmhouse Furniture and getting nothing but multiple voicemails, 5 On Your Side went to their new showroom in Cary late one morning. No one was there.

Soon after we left, Utt-Grubb returned our calls. She says Carolina Farmhouse is an accidental business that started out of her and her husband’s garage. She said they have zero experience running a business and described the many delays as the growing pains of a small business.

Utt-Grubb agreed to give the Nelsons a full refund.

The couple decided to keep the bed, but get their money back for the rest of the order.

We will keep you posted about the status of the Nelson’s refund. As for other customers, Utt-Grubb says Carolina Farmhouse Furniture just partnered with another shop and hopes to get caught up on orders next month.

Everybody needs to know that if you order online or over the phone, you’re protected by the Federal Mail Order rule. Under the law, if what you order isn’t delivered by the estimated date, you have the right to either reschedule delivery or get a refund.

Buying with a credit card also gives you protection because you can dispute a charge.

21 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • btbt Jan 23, 3:47 p.m.

    This story was posted on January 15th and today is the 23rd, so that makes it NINE days, not over a month. Using your version of math, the couples 8 month (240 days) delay would be more like 720 days or almost two years. 5 On Your Side did do a follow-up the next evening and said the couple was given a refund. I agree the case is now closed. As for the math, just keep working on it.

  • Scare Crow Jan 23, 2:14 p.m.

    UPDATE!!! this story has been on here for over a month!! It's no longer news WRAL.

  • superman Jan 22, 10:28 a.m.

    SE Perhaps you can suggest to them that they answer email on a timely basis. Refund any money for items they cannot deliver within 90 days. It just aint about their being slow it is about not keeping people informed on progress and giving them the opt to get their money back. I am happy they are able to support their family but keep in mind they are holding thousands of dollars in deposits and it is taking months to deliver the merchandise. Just isnt fair to their customers. Not answering mail and keeping people informed is not a mistake-- that is deliberate.

  • SE Jan 21, 4:56 p.m.

    I am a personal friend of the Utt-Grubbs, so I can't speak to the specifics of the business, but I think it is important to say that these are really good people. They have done something that I think is pretty amazing, building a business from scratch in these tough economic times that is already, not only providing for their family, but is providing work for others in North Carolina and enabling them to provide for their own families. They value family above all else and so its not surprising that I've heard Kelly talk over and over again about how happy it makes her to know that their hand crafted pieces are going to homes all over the country where they will be a part of the everyday lives and celebrations of other families. Yes, they have apparently made some mistakes and I'm sure the lessons learned will be put to good use. It is tough to be out there starting a business, so I just think that part of this discussion should be bravo and Godspeed!

  • superman Jan 21, 3:42 p.m.

    If they are 5 or 6 months behind on their production there must be a "lot" of people who are unhappy. I was a high school teacher for many years. At the end of the school year I sent every parent a letter in which I tried to say something positive about their child. I admit some letters were very difficult to write. I found it is a good idea to always compliment people for a good job. Last year I had some trees removed from my yard. I tipped each of the 6 workers $50. Their work was outstanding and I was well pleased. I almost make it a point to let people know when their performance is not so good. It works both ways with me.

  • Pseudonym Jan 18, 5:26 p.m.

    I can appreciate growing pains and being overwhelmed. That's why you underpromise and overdeliver. Tell the truth at the very least. If you lose a sale, oh well. But you will lose MORE sales if you make promises you cant keep and/or lie.

  • jkling Jan 18, 4:59 p.m.

    "but the show wasn't about you." - btbt

    No it wasn't but it was a one-sided and biased piece. "both sides were presented" is tchnically true, but patently false: WRAL clearly has a dog in the fight, so to speak. And I admit to leaving off an extra "probably", but I thought from the context I had implied the "probably".

    You point is still wrong: "far from universal" is accurate. If you unfilter the results on yelp, you see several positive comments that don't show on the main page (because that business is not a "Premium Partner". Websites that make their money off of ad revenue and what essentially amounts to bribes (in the $$ paid for :Partner" status). That is hardly an impartial forum. The fact that some praise does exist means that your complaint is NOT universal.

  • jkling Jan 18, 4:48 p.m.

    I'm a Political Science major who has taken a few public opinion, sociology and statistics classes.

    Using "yelp's own numbers" is not scientific nor particulrly helpful. People ARE more likely to complain. As far as yelp and other online sites, false and duplicate entries are EXTREMELY common.

    Here's just a few peer reviewed journal entries and scientific publications on it.

    Moyer, M.S. (1985), "Characteristics of Consumer Complainants: Implications for Marketing and Public Policy," Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 3, 67-84.

    Munson, J.M. and S.H. McIntyre (1979), "Developing Practical Procedures for the Measurement of Personal Values in Cross-Cultural Marketing," Journal of Marketing Research, 15, 48-52.

    Pfaff, M. and S. Blivice (1977), "Socio-economic Correlates of Consumer and Citizen Dissatisfaction and Activism," in Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, Ralph L. Day, ed., Bloomington: Department of Marketing, Indiana University, 115-123.

  • superman Jan 18, 12:08 p.m.

    The company agreeded to a refund. How slow are they in sending a check? Will it bounce?

  • clbrannan Jan 18, 10:44 a.m.

    Despite Miss Laliberte's best efforts, this is still a non-story. I'm looking to get those 4 minutes of my life refunded…

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