WHY WOULD YOU SPEND THOUSANDS OF $ DOLLARS $ WITH AN ONLINE FLOORING RETAILER?
Below is an account of a typical (and real) interaction with an online flooring retailer.
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A Record of a Potential Flooring Purchase from an Online Flooring Company
WHY WOULD YOU SPEND THOUSANDS OF DOLLAR$$$$$ WITH AN ONLINE FLOORING RETAILER???
On August 21, 2013 beginning at 9:00 am through 12:30 pm, as a potential consumer, I contacted a major online flooring retailer asking for a quote on 900 square feet of engineered hardwood flooring.
(Please note that all misleading and inaccurate information provided by the “sales professional” is underlined).
Here’s what happened…
1st call-9:00 AM: voicemail
2nd call-9:40 AM: voicemail
3rd call-10:15 AM: I spoke with receptionist who recorded my information and stated a flooring specialist would contact me shortly. The flooring specialist returned my call at 11:15 am and inquired as to my product of interest. I had to provide the manufacturer, item number and total square footage as well as some personal information. I questioned him about the difference between three different manufacturers; he provided inaccurate information as to wear-layer, product construction and specific important details about the manufacturers. He quoted a price that was $1.50 SF lower than the dealer’s retail price. I asked the “sales professional” how his company could sell the product so inexpensively and he stated, “we buy direct from the (manufacturer’s) manufacturing facility and warehouse in Texas.” I asked the questions below, and recorded his answers…
1. Does this price include freight? “No sir. The material would ship common carrier/LTL from Texas to Virginia. Today, the estimated freight charge is $445-$550 depending upon the freight company, and changes daily.”
2. How much money do you require as a down payment? “We ask that you pay the full amount up front using a credit card or a PayPal account. We do not charge your credit card until the material leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse in Texas.”
3. When will the material arrive? “We will place the order with the manufacturer, and if the material is in stock, you will receive the material in 7-10 business days, but since we buy direct from the manufacturer, there is always stock.”
4. Will you unload the material when it arrives? “No sir. The delivery will be curbside to your home.”
5. So, I have to unload the material from the back of an 18-wheeler? “Yes sir. The delivery driver will only drop it curbside.”
6. Will the truck have a lift gate? “I am not sure. I think it does.”
7. SO I will have to offload over 1000 pounds of material from the back of a tractor trailer and move it from the street to my house? “Yes sir. With the money you save, you can pay a few friends! (he chuckles).”
8. Will you call me with a delivery date and time? “No sir. What we do is, once we confirm the manufacturer has stock, we receive a confirmation from the manufacturer. After we get the order confirmation, we contact the common carrier and get a tracking number. I will give you a call with the tracking number and the trucking company’s contact information. From there, you will call the trucking company and schedule a delivery date directly with them.”
9. Will they be able to give me an accurate timeframe; I can’t waste an entire day waiting for the delivery? “I understand. You will have to coordinate that with them.”
10. What happens if the material is damaged, especially since I paid 100% in full, up front and before delivery? “We ask that you inspect all boxes prior to the driver offloading the material. If any boxes appear to have any sign of damage, simply mark the boxes on the delivery ticket and feel free to take pictures. Also you can call me. Once we receive confirmation from the delivery company that the material was damaged, we will send replacement material.”
11. I am on a time crunch, so how long will it take to receive replacement material, especially since I waited 7 or 10 business days for the initial shipment? “The replacement material will arrive in 7-10 business days once we receive confirmation of the damages and confirm manufacturer stock.”
12. So if there is damage, I could potentially be waiting a month for a complete shipment of material? “Well…Let’s hope that this is not the case and that the material arrives without any damage.”
13. What is the warranty on this product? “The manufacturer’s warranty is 25 years.”
14. What does the warranty cover? “I know it covers manufacturer defect and some wear and tear issues.”
15. If I have an issue with the flooring, let’s say, within 3 months, who do I call? Can I call you? “You can, but you should call the manufacturer. They would be the ones to process the claim or if you have any problems with the floor.
16. Where is your company located? “Oakland, California.”
17. Oakland! Wow! So if there is an issue, who would inspect the floor? Would your company send a representative? “No sir. The manufacturer would send out someone to (inspect) as part of their warranty process.”
18. What if the flooring I purchased from you does not match the sample I have or the picture I see on your website? “Don’t worry sir. It will match. You have to remember that wood is a natural product and will have shade variation depending on the wood and stain color.”
19. What happens if the shade variation is really drastic and we are not happy with it? We paid up front so what is your policy? “I want you to be happy. But if you are not, you can return the material as long as the boxes are undamaged and unopened and a restocking fee could be assessed in addition to freight.”
20. That seems a bit weird since we would have to open a few boxes, right? “Well…you would just keep the boxes you opened.”
21. What if I have extra material? Can I return it for a refund? “No sir. We trust that you are ordering the correct amount. Industry standard is usually 10-15% over your required square footage.”
“I really appreciate your time in getting me the quote. I will speak to my wife and do some math to ensure I am getting the best deal. I will call you back and let you know either way.” “Thank you sir for the call and let me know if I can help you in any way.”
At 1:07 pm, I called the “sales professional” at the online retailer and said the following:
“Hey (his name), I am giving you a call back as promised to let you know that we decided to go with the flooring store in my town. I just wanted to let you know.” “Thanks for the call back sir. May I ask Why?” “Well, I told the local retailer that I contacted you and relayed our discussion, especially about the manufacturer and you buying direct from them. The retailer stated that this particular manufacturer does not sell direct and also that they DO NOT have a manufacturing facility OR warehouse in Texas. I am simply not comfortable spending over $6,000.00 with you since you gave me false information.” (Silence) “Well, I did not give false information. The manufacturing facility is in Texas and is called —–(a distributor) and you can google them now if you want.” (Funny…he stated they bought direct from the manufacturer) … (at this point the call was disconnected …I had 4 bars on my cell phone. I called back and he thanked me for calling in and getting a quote.)—–THE END
SUMMARY: OUT OF 21 QUESTIONS THERE WERE:
(5) Answers contained partially inaccurate information (#2, #3, #14, #15, #18)
(1) Answers that gave 100% false information (#17,)
(3) Answers with assumptions (#1, #6, #12)
(4) 100% TRUE Answers (#5, #11, #13, #16)
(8) Poor Customer Service support answers (#4, #7, #8, #9, #10, #19, #20, #21)
THE FINAL TALLEY…Is it worth the savings?
For a $413.00 savings, I will be spending over $6,000.00 my hard-earned money with an ONLINE RETAILER who:
— Is located 2,830 miles away in Oakland, CA who ships material (they NEVER touch) from a distributor in Houston, TX
— Misrepresents and provides false information about the manufacturer and had minimal product knowledge
— Has NO idea of product wants, needs and color scheme or scope of project
— Places 90% of the flooring buying process (after point of purchase) on the shoulders of the consumer
— Does NOT provide delivery assistance and is of NO ASSISTANCE AT ALL, EXCEPT at the point of purchase
— Provides NO “turn-key” service options
— Requires payment in full, before the product is delivered and inspected
— Offers NO assistance during a claims process
— Has policies that make it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to ensure COMPLETE customer satisfaction from the point of purchase to final installation (Oh yeah, they don’t provide installation either!)
BUT HEY, I just saved $413.00… Congratulations!