Angie's List: Tips on buying furniture

New furniture can really spruce up your home. Buying furniture can often be an unpleasant experience.

In fact, the furniture sales category is among the most complained about according to an Angie's List survey.

When it comes to buying furniture, there are no shortages of complaints.

“In 2009, the furniture sales category actually ranked in the top 10 most complained about categories on Angie's List. With common complaints related to slow delivery, return policies, and damaged furniture when it was actually delivered,” Angie Hicks from Angie’s List said.

So how do you make sure your furniture buying experience doesn't have you falling out of your chair?

"It's really important for you as a consumer to be a really active consumer when purchasing furniture. Find out exactly what the delivery features are, get it in writing, find out if they say it's going to be 6 to 8 weeks for delivery and it turns out to be 12 is there any recourse for you? And then also find out what the return policy is. Sometimes people end up ordering furniture and realize it doesn't fit in their house. Measuring is important on the front end but also finding out if there's a re-stocking fee and a lot of times with special order items you might not be able to return it at all,” Hicks said.

Furniture is an investment and, by and large, it's not cheap. A recliner can cost several hundred dollars; a dining room set, several thousand. Finding the best price takes work, but can be worth the extra effort.

“The Internet can be a great tool when it comes to searching furniture sales because before you used to have to go from store to store, now you can actually search online and find comparable items. One Angie's List member reported she found an item she really liked online for about $300 less than the store was offering, but found out she was going to pay shipping online. So she actually took that deal to the local store and they were willing to match it so she ended up pocketing that $300,” Hicks explains.

It's also important to ask yourself, what the furniture will be used for and how long you intend to use it? Do you need to furniture to grow with your family? If you have kids and pets, you may need specific fabric.

Angie's List Tips for Buying Furniture

Measure the room: Determine how much space you have. You may need to take some measurements (don't forget to measure doorways, stairs, etc.) before you go hunting for furniture.

Furniture use: Ask yourself what the furniture will be used for and how long you intend to use it. Do you need to furniture to grow with your family? If you have kids and pets, you may need specific fabric.

Allergy sufferers? If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, choose easy to clean furniture with materials such as leather, vinyl, wood, metal or plastic.

Get specifics in writing: When buying and ordering furniture - get everything in writing to help avoid problems down the road.

Ask about returns and what happens if you cancel an order: If you get a living room set home and realize it doesn't fit your space, will the total amount be refunded or a store credit only? Will they charge a "re-stocking fee?"

Delivery details: Make sure you understand delivery and have that info in writing. For example, will the dining room set be delivered AND setup in your house or just dropped off out front? The estimated delivery date should be detailed. Make sure you understand what happens if the store estimates six to eight weeks for delivery - but 12 weeks go by with no furniture.

Pay with plastic: Use a credit card instead of cash or check. Using credit offers some protection should you have a problem with the order or the company goes out of business.
Do your homework and comparison shop: Buying new furniture can be costly - from hundreds to thousands of dollars - depending on what you buy. As with any • investment, it pays to do your research and comparison shop (not only the furniture costs, but delivery charges, other fees, etc.) in order to save a few bucks. One Angie's List member found the furniture she wanted online, for about $300 less, but she would have to pay for shipping. So she called a store in their city and the company matched the price.

Another money saving tip: If you have family/friends to help you out, you can save on delivery by transporting the furniture yourself.


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