Why Your Furniture Arrived Damaged, And What You Can Do About It.
You waited patiently despite the long lead time and damaged goods. Why?
What is more unnerving than receiving a shipment with damaged goods? First, you experience the excitement of accepting the boxes, only to be completely disappointed when you unpack the cracked, chipped, or just plain broken item.
So what is going on? These days products in the furnishings category arrive damaged more often than not. Why is this happening? It feels like it is increasing and not decreasing. God knows we all had to wait for months during Covid, and it has only recovered somewhat. Now, goods are damaged to add insult to injury.
There are a couple of circumstances at play.
One is that when Covid hit, the already insufficient amount of truck drivers transporting goods became a lot worse. Trucking was already in decline from drivers aging out and slow education and processing for new drivers. Manufacturers had to turn to trucking companies they had never used to get goods across the country.
Many of these companies were not familiar with transporting high-end furnishings including art and mirrors. Furnishings were not packed and shipped in trucks the safest way for such goods and they were not handled properly at each end. The cost of trucking, gas, and truck maintenance has risen so companies look to reduce those price increases by contracting with lower-price carriers or passing rising costs on to the buyer. Or both.
The second issue that is happening is freight has become VERY expensive. The cost is typically determined by weight. Sometimes size as well. So, to deal with the increase, manufacturers and distributors have cut back on packing materials. There is less to protect the item. This reduces the weight of the box and reduces the cost of shipping. It is far easier for art to get damaged, mirrors to have scratches or fractures, and furniture to be chipped and or dented.
I received a round stone table (above) that looked like it had been dropped from a second story. It was shattered into about four pieces.
Damages can also happen before delivery, as some products can be handled inadequately in the shipping warehouse or get damaged while being manufactured. Staff will not always notice damaged products and will ship the products unaware and without checking.
As an interior design firm, we use receivers to accept and inspect all goods upon arrival. They inspect and photograph each item, whether it is damaged or not. If it is not, the product is stored in the receiver’s warehouse until delivered to the site. There are fees associated with this. But it is worth the money when you are talking about a 72” cabinet that has to be unpacked, inspected, and then repacked.
What should you do if you receive a damaged product?
MOST IMPORTANT: Check all warranties and return policies BEFORE you purchase.
First, if there is obvious damage, open the package in the presence of the driver, then inspect and note that damage by photographing it. Also, photograph the box it came in for any damage, like punctures or smashed corners. If the damage is obvious, you don’t have to sign for the package, but you must note the discovery of that damage at that time. The driver will have delivery paperwork. You notate the damage on the paperwork, get your copy, and return the damaged goods to the company. Then contact the company. This is to clarify that you did not damage the goods after the driver left.
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When a shipment is received in good condition but later found to be damaged, it is known as “concealed damages.” Again, photograph the box and the damaged product and contact the company. KEEP THE ORIGINAL BOX. Most manufacturers or companies will not accept goods not returned in the original box. Companies request that damages be reported in a three to five-day window, so don’t delay. The sooner, the better.
More often these days, manufacturers do not want the damaged item back, it just costs too much to ship it back. They will inform you to dispose of it or give it to a local charity and they will send you a new item.
Damaged deliveries are a huge cost for companies as they now have to spend twice as much for the same product. Occasionally, the product you purchased will no longer be available and the company has dropped it from its assortment. At that point, you will receive a refund, minus the shipping cost, of course.
The manufacturer may also offer to pay to have the item repaired by a professional of your choice and reimburse you. This is usually the protocol for small blemishes and damage that is minor.
We purchase as much as possible with a credit card. This way, should there be any trouble with the vendor, we can file a dispute claim with our bank. If we were to use a check, cash, or debit card, we would not have that leverage.
If you’ve ordered a furnishings item and it came without issue, hooray for you!
It does happen. With the cost of gas and everything else on the rise these days, we may see damages for a while.
I am certainly hoping it gets better cause I place very large furniture orders, and I want nothing but happy clients.