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Furnitureland South Addresses Complaints Received By Five On Your Side

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LEE COUNTY, N.C. — Months of frustration over furniture purchases are finally being resolved for dozens of Triangle-area residents.

Five On Your Side first told visitors about this story in May. They all shopped at the same well-known furniture store. After the first story, Five On Your Side received even more complaints against Furnitureland South, 39 so far.

After the first story, one of the owners, Jeff Harris, asked Five On Your Side to visit the company to see what they are doing to take care of those complaints as well as future ones. Five On Your Side's Monica Laliberte followed up on his request.

It took years to find, but less than two months after April and Ed Metcalf ordered a $15,000 dining room set from Furnitureland South near High Point, the thrill over the table, 10 chairs, mirror, buffet and china hutch turned to disgust.

The Metcalfs' problems started when their salesman e-mailed, saying he misquoted the contacted price of the hutch by $1,500. He told the Metcalfs they could either pay the additional money or cancel the hutch.

Ed thought that was ridiculous, and when he could not get the salesman to budge, he decided to cancel the entire order. But the salesman told Ed that to do that, he would have to pay a 33 percent restocking fee, or almost $5,800. Metcalf thought that was outrageous.

"I didn't buy one piece. I bought a suit. I bought a dining room suit," he says.

Metcalf is one of 39 people who have complained to Five On Your Side about Furnitureland South, and one of more than 180 who complained to North Carolina's

attorney general

. They cite all kinds of problems, which Five On Your Side took directly to Jeff Harris, the company's vice-president of operations.

"It upsets me that we have customers that we're not taking care of," he says.

Harris' father started the company.

"Certainly, we take it personally," he says.

He blames most of the problems on the company's phenomenal growth, saying it has been difficult to keep up.

"We've grown our business in a 10-year span from 15 million to 200 million," he says.

Harris believes a big part of the solution will be a new, 250,000-square-foot distribution center. Set to open in two weeks, it will completely change the way the company receives and sends out merchandise.

Right now, manufacturers send merchandise to Furnitureland South in boxes, which are immediately transfered to trucks for home delivery. Customers are then the first to see the boxes opened and often the furniture inside is already damaged or altogether wrong.

However, when the new warehouse opens, all merchandise will be opened as soon as it is received.

"Every single item is going to be inspected before we deliver it," Harris says. "We're going to make sure our customers' furniture is right before it leaves here."

Harris says he believes the center will also drastically improve delivery times. He also says the company has taken steps to better train employees and monitor their handling of customer complaints.

"We fell short, but we want to do the best we can going forward," he says.

Harris addressed all 39 of the complaints Five On Your Side received. Many got refunds. He also agreed to sell the Metcalfs the dining room set for the price originally quoted. In addition, a missing chair and replacement for a broken mirror are on the way.

But the Metcalfs say even so, the months of frustration endured to just get the furniture they waited years to find has taught them a lesson of a lifetime.

"Just because it's the lowest price doesn't mean it's the best deal," he says.

When you are buying furniture or anything else that's "shipped," Federal law states the seller must either give you a shipping date, or it automatically becomes 30 days from when the order was placed. If it is delayed, you have the option of accepting a new delivery date or cancelling with a full refund.

One more caveat:

If the new ship date is 30 days or less from the original date, it is up to you to tell the company you want to cancel. Otherwise, it's assumed you accept it.