I have been struggling for the past month or two to find decent, basic bedroom furniture for a good price. I’ve tried the department stores (JCPenny, Macy’s and Sears), Ashley Furniture, Raymour & Flanigan, Peir 1, and some other stores, but everything was out of a reasonable price range or was horribly cheap.
After expressing my frustration at work a few days ago, a co-worker suggested Bob’s Discount Furniture, not too far from the office. My girlfriend had mentioned Bob’s previously, but for whatever reason, I didn’t pursue it at that time. Once we determined there was a store close by, my girlfriend and I decided to stop in on Saturday to see what they had available.
I have strange tastes when it comes to furniture. Without a lot of experience shopping, it’s hard for me to know what to look for in the beginning, but I can easily identify what I do not want. I’m not looking for furniture that I will keep for a lifetime or pass down to my children. It’s likely that when I get married, I will have to defer all furniture decisions, so I just need something I’d be happy with for a relatively short time. Wood purists prefer solid wood rather than medium-density fiberboard (MDF), but that’s not an issue that’s important to me. I just want something that looks nice, won’t fall apart, and is affordable. The designs I like tend to be simple and not overstated.
While walking around the store, I found one set I liked. In fact, at first I saw the set in the smaller version for children, and thought it was just about right for what I wanted, but my girlfriend quickly pointed out the adult set would be much more appropriate. I wasn’t interested in all the pieces listed in the package, so I subtracted the chest and mirror from the set that included the full bed rails, footboard, and headboard.
I had to search for a salesman and bring him to the bedroom area to discuss the pieces. I was expecting to be followed around like at Raymour & Flanigan, but most of the salespeople were chatting with each other towards the front of the store. Joe, the salesman randomly selected to help, mentioned it would not be normal for me to take two pieces — the chest and the mirror — out of the full package and still receive the “discounted price,” but he would talk to his manager. As I expected, Joe returned and mentioned the best price he could give on the set I wanted was $730, not the $630 price I calculated from the full set discount. We thanked him and walked away to look around the rest of the store.
He must have spotted me coming back to the area a few minutes later. I decided that I would purchase the dresser only. The other pieces weren’t as necessary as the dresser. Right now, all of my clothes are hanging up or piled on top of shelves in my closet. It’s a disorganized mess and I have problems reaching the shirts at the top of the piles. The dresser is the first priority. Since I liked the construction and the look of this particular set, I decided I would spend the money for that one piece.
Joe must have seen us returning to the area. He mentioned he had another idea, and would try talking to his manager again to see if he or she would agree to a different combination of starting package and substitutions to come to the configuration I wanted for the price I wanted. He came back offering the pieces I wanted for $630, so I decided I would go ahead with the dresser, full bed set, and the night stand. This is $200 off the non-discounted price, or $100 off the discounted price they would originally “allow.” The salesman commented that this type of deal was unheard of and the manager has never allowed this before. While their normal procedures allow for the removal or replacement of one item in in these package deals, this was a removal of two items. Joe’s claim is obviously nothing more than fabrication designed to make me feel good about the purchase and not back away, but the negotiated price was fair based on what I had seen at other stores.
Joe tried to add on the four-year protection plan for $99, but I had no interest, so I politely declined. He didn’t press the issue. I don’t expect much damage to come to my bedroom furniture, and even if something were to happen, like Frank noted about his experience with Bob’s Discount Furniture, the insurance probably wouldn’t cover the event anyway. Additionally, Joe didn’t mention that the protection plan is only valid at the same address where the furniture has been delivered. I don’t plan on living in this apartment for longer than one or two years.
After “taking my information” and the order, Joe directed us to a section of the store where they offered free drinks, cookies, and candy. I’m trying to cut down on junk, but I had a cookie and water on the house. On the face, it seems like a good customer appreciation service, but I wonder if this delay is automatically built into the process in order to influence the customer in some way.
Joe returned after ten or fifteen minutes, and we moved to the cashier to set up the delivery date. Delivery and tax added more to the total. I had to push delivery to a date on which I had no other plans, so I’ll receive the furniture in a few weeks. My girlfriend’s sister experienced some problems with Bob’s delivery recently, but an item of hers was not in stock, causing a delay. I am hoping for no problems, but I did confirm that if any piece is damaged on arrival, they will redeliver until I’m satisfied. I would prefer if there’s no need to put that guarantee to the test.
Part of the reason I was willing to make a larger purchase (a set) than I originally planned when moving in (just the dresser) was due to a housewarming gift from a family member in the form of a check for furnishing the apartment. I’m always grateful for these gifts. Without it, I would have likely purchased just the dresser.
Updated April 12, 2011 and originally published August 20, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.