Smart online shopping begins with understanding the terms and conditions listed by any retailer before pressing the confirm my purchase or the "finalize your order" button. Being in your home more than usual, and for who knows how long, may cause you to look more closely at your surroundings. Is it time to think about finishing a project that is in progress, starting a new project, or buying something new?
Sometimes, images of an item look great online, but when you receive it, the difference is sometimes remarkedly different. Color variations are the largest pitfall in this area. Monitors color rendering and quality varies among mobile, tablet, laptop, and desktop. The higher quality is the better for your shopping experience. Here are a few suggestions:
- Request additional images or perhaps a short video for items with intricate details
- Verify any unclear dimensions, or request more
- Request a different view of the item
When shopping for higher end merchandise it is much easier because most images offer higher resolution and detailed views, such as the chasing on bronze ormolu or examining the hairy paw feet on a chair or table foot, and the depth of wood graining or genuine wood inlay in a contrasting species.
In addition, galleries that sell antiques or vintage items have different policies because whether antique or vintage, they are sometimes marked with what are percieved as flaws rather than character.
"Free Shipping" can be friend or foe. In that latter case, it is the hook that sometimes promises something that may not be to your satisfaction, or that might cost you more in the long run. I have seen this sales promotion more times than I can remember for everything from blenders to home furnishings. In my opinion, this byline and pop-up can create confusion and deception.
This purpose of this post is engage your thinking a little deeper in that moment before you hit the buy button. It always sounds good on the front end because we all know that shipping costs can be high. The overnight carriers, and postal workers work hard to bring us what we want and need for our homes. I appreciate them, especially during these times.
Contact the company before you purchase and find out how much it may cost to return an item if you have any hesitation from the beginning. Let's say that you order something and for whatever reason, you are not satisfied. Obviously, it is a serious matter if a chandelier arrives broken, you must inspect it before the carrier leaves and indicate "damaged upon arrival, or damaged in transit."
The Inexpensive/Expensive Armchairs
In late 2018, I consulted with clients who own a retail clothing store. The design project involved ordering several items from various vendors (yes, clients have this option when working with me) and companies that represent several vendors (3rd parties). My clients ordered four armchairs, costing close to $800.00 from this one source, and when the order arrived, they were not happy.
My clients called me after spending most of their day attempting to assemble the chairs, so I went over to take a look. Upon inspection, I found wooden parts sized incorrectly, misaligned screw holes, and missing hardware. Further, I saw some of the worst upholstery work I have ever seen. We revisited our our previous discussions regarding the initial cost. They were aware that the quality would not be the best, and I understood it was a starting point for the company.
When my clients contacted the company to return the chairs, the experience was anything but good. If my client had not been firm, he would have lost $367.00, and ended up with nothing. This was the restocking fee combined with shipping costs.
In the end, my client was successful at obtaining the return authorization and received a full refund a few days later. Again, contact the company and find out what the cost is to return, for either defects, or if for whatever reason, you change your mind.
The Search Continues
Since this was to be a temporary solution for the new retail gallery, my clients wanted to see what Ikea might have to offer. I can shop Ikea for some things because good design can be found at all price points; one just has to know what to look for. They also wanted something a little larger than what was returned. After walking the floor, we found what we were looking for. Furthermore, we were able to sit in this chair, feel the upholstery, and inspect the construction. This armchair offered good seating, reasonable quality, and the leather upholstery in black was the right color. As of this post, I have not heard any complaints.
KOARP Lounge Chair Courtesy of IKEA
"Free Shipping" Can Be True In Some Cases
When purchasing better quality, or working with a familiar merchant you might see the same slogan, but the odds of a better transaction/personnel interaction increase. Again, if advertised as "Free," the cost likely includes shipping in the price of the merchandise.
It is important to locate the policies and read them carefully. Some smaller retailers will ship without additional charges, and if you wish to return it for reasons other than a manufacturers defect, they will deduct the return shipping costs from your refund. Some may charge a restocking fee, which can be anywhere from 10% to 100% depending on what the merchandise is, where you purchased it, and the condition of it when arrives at the company.
In addition, if you are ordering furnishings such as a sofa, a sectional to be exact, be sure to take accurate measurements, especially if it needs to go up a flight of stairs, and/or turn on a landing. This way you avoid damaged walls, stairs, and to the furnishings that you will want to return it it won't fit. Some of the larger retailers will absorb the cost for returns as a "write off", but keep in mind the cost of that may or may not be part of the original merchandise cost. Also be sure you understand white glove vs curbside delivery.
However, if you have developed a favorable relationship with a particular showroom, gallery, or tradesperson then it is possible that the shipping policy is already understood, or discussed, understood, and agreed upon. In addition, if you live within a reasonable driving distance, you can return the merchandise in person and save the return shipping costs.
Finally, whatever the situation may be, take your time, develop your plan, and be reasonably sure when it is time to order.
Shop at Rhonald Angelo Interiors
As of Spring 2021, you may shop a collection of curated items for your home from this blog site. Choose from a wide range of accessories, fine art, antiques, and other great finds. Each vendor will have his/her own terms and policies for your concurrence. Contact us with your specific requests.
Working With a Design Professional
This is the beauty of working with a professional. We handle these details, and the merchandise that we specify is done right to begin with, so there are no surprises upon delivery and set-up.
So the next time you see "Free Shipping," understand that companies are business to make money. No company can manufacture/import products, sell them on the cheap, and not charge you for shipping it. Reach out to more reputable companies, especially for large purchases.
When your next design project is on the table, contact Rhonald Angelo Interiors and let's get started. Perhaps during this downtime, it might be better to just spend time making preliminary plans or organizing your present environment. Look for an upcoming post on this important topic. Clutter in your home is clutter in your mind.