As most of you know I purchased a house about a year and half ago. I also recently got engaged, and my fiance plans on moving in with me after we are married this time next year. All of these life events scream new furniture. In the roughly 16 months I have lived here, I have purchased a family room set, and a dining room table. That means I have about 5 empty rooms in the house. The future Mrs. MITR is definitely excited to add her decorative touch to the house, and is currently eyeing master bedroom sets. She has actually helped me pick out all the new furniture in the home thus far, and we enjoy browsing and making the decision together. So last weekend we found ourselves back at the furniture store browsing the bedroom sets. Well when I got there I found more than just bedroom sets… I found the same tired gimmicks, financially confusing incentives, and scams that I had come across the last several times I had been there. Did I expect any different? No I suppose not, but I hoped none the less.
You’ll notice that I haven’t named a specific store, and that’s because there really isn’t a need. Of the three most popular stores here in the Metro Detroit area, they all have a regional and/or national presence, and ALL of them have the same gimmicks! Let me cut to the chase and point out these so-called incentives so you know what to look for the next time you are looking for furniture.
I love interest-free financing, and why not, if I can borrow free money to pay for an item then I am all for it. Here is some info they don’t often give up openly, if you don’t pay for item in full within the interest-free period then you will owe ALL the accrued interest beginning from your purchase date. Sure you sign some papers that have a tiny disclosure of this clause somewhere in the mix, but I wouldn’t really say it’s very transparent. Another drawback of interest-free financing is that it voids you from the discounted sales prices. Yep….they will allow you to take the sales price, or they will allow you the interest free financing…their advertisements don’t often disclose this, but their goal is to get you in the door and let you figure that out for yourself. As much as I love free money, I don’t want to pay full price for an item in order to take advantage of it.
Discounted Sales Price
One of the nearby stores, that shall remain nameless, loves to send out weekly flyers extolling their discounted prices. This week is 15% off, next week it may be an additional 25% off…sometimes it’s as much as 80% off! You may be wondering why they offer such a variety of discounts. When they offer the lower discounted prices (5-25%) it is not valid with clearance items, in other words, items that are actually almost fairly priced. Instead you have to select from the main showroom only. Now while I can live with that, what bothers me is when I think about buying an item at a 5% discount and then see it go on sale for 25% off 3 weeks later…and yes that has happened! One of their big selling points is that you can recoup the difference up to a month after your purchase. So hopefully the deeper discount comes out within 30 days, and that you have been watching the ads religiously each week because they certainly won’t be contacting you. Also, if you took the interest-free financing, then you aren’t even eligible to claim the extra discount. This especially bothered me because they used this incentive of claiming an extra discount within 30 days despite being aware that I was using interest-free financing. I had to call them out myself otherwise they wouldn’t have told me I wasn’t eligible. As far as the 50-80% discounts go, well this is actually quite funny. I’ve found that the prices aren’t really on sale at all, they claim that the new sticker price is already 50-80% marked down from the MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price)…what a scam. Obviously the latter is an incentive they run quite often.
There are basically two types of warranties; Manufacturers warranty, and store warranty. I think a manufacturer warranty is vital, as it shows that the maker stands behind their product, thus expressing a quality item. A store warranty can be a good or a bad thing. There was a time that a furniture store, electronic store, or even a clothing store stood behind the brands they purchased. They would automatically honor returns of defective items. Well furniture stores don’t like to stand behind their items, in fact they are basically telling us how unreliable their furniture is by pushing their year long warranty. Last week they wanted me to purchase a $1,200 bedroom set, and strongly recommended I pay $50 for an annual warranty. Should I accidentally break the furniture then the warranty doesn’t apply, however if natural wear and tear, or a defect becomes present then it’s covered. This tells me they not only have little faith in their own products, but they bilk the customer out of an extra $50 each time. Perhaps if the warranty was for anything over a year then I could lend it some credibility, but the customer shouldn’t be held liable for “natural wear and tear” within one year, nor should a manufacturers defect come out of our pockets.
Unfortunately, unless I go into the carpentry business I am slightly handcuffed to some of these gimmicks. The goal is recognize them, and then minimize the impact they have on you. Make sure you only take the interest-free financing if it’s truly to your advantage. Be aware if the sales prices is truly a sale at all, and do some research as to when discounted prices are at their lowest. Lastly, don’t purchase from a store that can’t stand behind their own product. Be smart and discerning about purchasing a warranty. Check to see if the manufacturer has their own warranty, it may be better than what the store is charging you for!