It can be so disappointing to spend time and money picking out new furniture and then have it delivered with damages. Even a small scratch on a new table or a bent leg on the sofa of your dreams puts a crimp in your enthusiasm for the piece. You have every right to expect new furniture to look new, free of damage and should take appropriate steps to remedy the situation when it occurs.
Don’t Accept It
When the delivery van shows up, inspect each piece of furniture before it’s brought into your home. If you see any damage, tell the driver to load it back up on the truck and take it back. Don’t sign for any merchandise until you’ve had a chance to inspect it, even if it’s already in place in your home. If you don’t accept the furniture, even if you paid for it, the store can't complete the sale and will have to take measures to correct the imbalance on their books. You’ll have a much easier time getting a refund or new furniture if you don’t accept it on delivery.
Read the Fine Print
Ideally, you should read the fine print on your receipt before you leave the store. If you don't see the damage until after the furniture has been delivered and signed for, pull out your receipt and read all the instructions. Many states have laws just to protect consumers from getting bilked or stuck with defective merchandise. Stores usually must respond to complaints within a specific period of time, which could range from seven to 30 days. Follow the instructions on the receipt to lodge a complaint and most of all, don’t procrastinate -- once that window of time closes, it will be much harder to resolve your problem.
Report the Company
Don't be afraid to be a squeaky wheel to get satisfaction. If the furniture store refuses to refund, repair or replace the damaged goods, report the company to state and local agencies that can look into your allegations. If it's deemed to be valid, those agencies could fine the company. Furthermore, the Better Business Bureau will list your complaint so future shoppers will know they should be careful when they deal with that store. File a notice with the consumer complaint department in your state’s attorney general’s office. You may end up part of a class action suit if other consumers have had the same experience.
File a Claim
The United States Department of Transportation accepts complaints about moving companies through its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If you or the store hired an outside contractor to deliver the furniture to another state, you case could be handled through the DOT. DOT could charge the delivery company with fines or other disciplinary action. Additionally, you can file a report with the insurance company of the carrier. Find out what kind of insurance the store carried on the delivery, and notify the store you’re filing a claim with their insurance company. Take pictures of the damage, and send them with a date stamp to the insurance company with your claim.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."