So you have found your way online looking for new waiting room chairs for an office space, something that might be uncharted territory. Like many others, the lack of a selection locally or hopes of saving money has lead you to the internet to find something you like. Unfortunately buying furniture online means that you will undoubtedly run into problems that you wouldn’t if you were shopping in person. In this post we will cover the most frequent problems customers run into and provide solutions for each. Some will find the benefits of shopping online far outweigh the downfalls, and others will quickly realize that buying furniture online isn’t a realistic option.
1. I can’t sit in the chairs before I buy them
This is by and far the most frequently asked question and problem we run into selling seating online. Some customers ask for stores where they can try the seating before buying, but unfortunately the lack of a selection locally makes this nearly impossible. In the past we have been asked if we can provide locations where the furniture is currently in use. For the safety and privacy of our customers, this is not something we feel comfortable providing.
Solution: To be honest there isn’t a perfect solution for this problem. One of the first things to consider is that waiting room furniture is designed with durability in mind. The cushions tend to sit a little firm, compared to home furniture. Because most guests won’t be sitting for longer than 30 to 60 minutes at a time, a little firmer feel isn’t a deal breaker. A firm cushion will also hold it’s shape longer and in high traffic waiting rooms this will result in a much longer lifetime of the furniture. If test driving the furniture is a requirement before buying, we will generally recommend buying one chair. This will minimize the investment should you decide to return the item.
Tip: It is also important to note that some chairs with custom upholstery options might not be returnable. Check the details of all furniture and call sales or service for more information.
2. Most waiting room chairs require some assembly
Because of its size, most waiting room furniture that is sold online is shipped KD (knocked down) or RTA (ready to assemble). If these items were shipped fully assembled the cost to ship them would increase and would result in more expensive prices for the customer. While some sofas and lounge chairs will only require attaching feet, many others will require a little more thorough assembly.
Solution: While the majority of the waiting room chairs do require some assembly, for the most part it is pretty straight forward. Many of the wood framed chairs being offered by companies like Lesro (Lenox Series) and Office Star (WD Series) are even utilizing an interlocking wedge system that only require the use of a rubber mallet to click and lock seats/backs into place. For larger pieces including: sofas, loveseats, oversized chairs and metal framed seating, strong bolts are required to create a secure connection. While this does take a little more time to assemble, having a product that holds up to the additional weight is sure to be appreciated many years down the road. If assembly just isn’t an option or time is not going to allow for it, we highly recommend using services like Yelp and Thumbtack to find a local installation/assembly company. Using these services will allow you to vet the company prior to hiring them. Many of these smaller assembly teams will charge much less than the more well known national companies.
3. The color on my monitor doesn’t match the furniture I received
This can be a very expensive problem to run into after receiving brand new furniture. Unfortunately monitor settings will vary between computers within the same organization and the chance you see the same color on another computer are unlikely. Depending on the type of lighting in the space, the color could appear slightly different as well.
Solution: If color matching is important, we recommend requesting color samples prior to purchase. Many manufacturers and retailers will send out free color swatches upon request. Even if they aren’t actively advertising the service, a quick call to customer service should have samples on the way. At BTOD, we handle almost all of our sample fulfillment and use FedEx Express, which guarantees delivery within 1-3 business days. Customers can access the color sample request form from any page on the website. They can also call customer service and have someone assist with the request.
4. The furniture arrived and it’s on the back of a semi truck, now what?
While many ecommerce retailers are now offering free shipping on large items, it’s most likely a very basic shipping to a loading dock or back of the semi truck. If a sofa was ordered, or a large quantity of smaller chairs, chances are that the order will be coming on a semi. If the location doesn’t have a loading dock (raised platform where a semi back into and unload) the customer will be required to pull the items from the truck and bring them into the building.
Solution: While this requires a extra effort on the customers end, the cost savings are generally worth it. Depending on the retailer, an appointment for delivery could be included with your shipment at no charge. This will provide an opportunity to have extra help on hand or to bring a small dolly to assist moving the furniture. There is also a good chance that additional services can be purchased, such as a liftgate (platform that allows the items to be lowered to the ground) or inside delivery. Learn more about free shipping and additional services in our Truth About Office Furniture on Office Furniture post.
Tip: Because most retailers work with LTL freight companies, the truck will only have one person at delivery (the driver) to bring the items inside. This means that they will only bring items inside the threshold of the 1st floor entryway. If the door is too narrow or there are steps they will not be able to bring the items inside. If items need to be brought further into the building it will require a specialty carrier that charge upwards of $500-$1000 for single piece shipments. These types of shipments will have to pass through multiple carriers before arriving at the last mile carrier. Specialty services generally delay deliveries up to four weeks and increase the likelihood of damage once the furniture arrives. BTOD does not offer these type of services.
5. I don’t like the furniture and want to return it
Sometimes things just don’t work out and a customer will decide the furniture isn’t going to work for their space. Whether it is the quality, size, firmness, and/or color, the product is not what they had originally hoped for. Depending on the type of product you have ordered, a return might not be possible, or will be very costly with restocking fees and return shipping. If a product ordered is made to order, the chance it can be returned is unlikely.
Solution: We highly recommend doing all required research before making a purchase online for made to order furniture. Double check the measurements of the room, request color swatches and ask the sales associate all related questions that that could result in a possible return. If all of those efforts have been exhausted and concerns remain, purchasing only one chair could be a good option. This will bring the potential costs down on returns and if a return is not possible most offices can find a use for only one chair. For some this could be a deal breaker and that is okay too. As long as enough preparation is done pre-purchase, many of the problems linked to returns can be easily avoided.
Our goal by bringing the most common problems to light is to help educate customers and reduce their risk of running into costly problems. Many of the potential issues when purchasing waiting room chairs online can be avoided by utilizing knowledgeable sales and service people. There is also a chance that buying seating online might not be a good fit for some. That is okay too and knowing this ahead of time will avoid an expensive headache.