Local News

Complaints Mount Against Furniture Company

Posted May 18, 2001

— Most of us put time, effort and money into the decision to buy "real" furniture. You price shop to find the best deal, but customers of a place known for furniture "deals" say that's not at all what they got.

"This is out first big purchase," says Sharon Metzler of a brand-new bedroom set. Metzler and her fiance were excited about buying it until it was delivered.

"This whole top was just broken. I mean, it was like someone had taken a giant hammer and just smashed it," she says. Metzler also got the wrong dresser, "and they got a footboard what was white and chunky. This chunky wood. It didn't even match the set."

Metzler ordered the set costing almost $2,000 last June fromFurnitureland South, a well-known furniture showroom and retail store near High Point. Ever since, she's had nothing but problems.

"Very frustrating, extremely frustrating," she says.

For example, it took four months longer than promised to get all five pieces the couple ordered, and they got them in four months only because they agreed to accept a staple-damaged dresser.

Then, the night after the delivery person put it all together, Metzler says, "The whole bed fell apart just like in the movies. The side rails fell off, the footboard fell on to the metal supports and just broke. A big break, a big crack."

It then took Furnitureland South three more months to pick it up for repair. Metzler says repeated calls to her salesman, the manager and customer service got her nowhere.

"It wouldn't be uncommon for us to call like five times a day, and still, nobody would call us back," she says.

Metzler is one of 18 people who have complained to Five On Your Side about similar experiences with Furnitureland South and one of 180 who complained to theNorth Carolina Attorney General.

They cite problems with quality: Furniture arrived "damaged," "badly warped," and "split." Several items were the "wrong color." Furniture was "dropped off the truck" and several customers repeatedly "sent back" furniture.

Another complainant, Ed Metcalf, has a contract stating the prices of a dining room set he ordered. Furnitureland South later told him they misquoted the price of one piece and upped it by almost $1,500 -- then told him if he decided to cancel the entire order, he'd have to pay a 33 percent restocking fee which amounted to almost $5,800.

Most of our complainants say "phone calls were never returned." One customer documented 70 calls with no response. All were at their wits' end.

Another wrote that he is "totally tired, outraged and disgusted" at Furnitureland South's "customer service."

After months, and in some cases, more than a year of back and forth conversations with Furnitureland South representatives, one of the owners, Jeff Harris, called us this week.

Harris says he was "not aware of the complaints" we received, nor that so many are filed with the attorney general.

He says part of the problem is that Furnitureland South has "...grown so fast, we've been playing catchup operationally." Harris says it's not the way they do business, and offered his direct phone number for each complainant to call, so that he can take care of them.

Some of our complaints, including Sharon Metzler's, have finally been resolved. But Metzler believes the new footboard came much earlier than promised only because she told the customer service representative she was about to do an interview with us.

"He called me right back and said 'How would you like delivery on Saturday,'" she says.

Furnitureland South has now verbally agreed to sell Ed Metcalf the dining room piece at the lower price he was originally quoted. Others have reached agreements as well, while some simply gave up.

Either way, almost all of our complainants feel their search for a good deal on their dream furniture turned out to be a debacle.

"The money that you save is not worth it," says Metzler.

In a little more than a month, Furnitureland South is opening a massive new distribution center. Harris says it will help solve a lot of the problems.

Furniture Buying Tips:

Here are some things to know about buying furniture or anything else that is shipped or ordered over the telephone:

  • Federal law says when you order, the seller must either give you a shipping date or it automatically becomes 30 days from when the order was placed.
  • If the order is delayed, the company must give you a new date and the option of accepting or canceling with a full refund.
  • One caveat:If the new date is 30 days or less from the original date it's up to you to tell the company you want to cancel. Otherwise, it's assumed you accept it. That information that could save a lot of people a lot of trouble.
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