Friday, January 23, 2015

The Great Couch Debacle

Recently DH and I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new couch-our first purchase of furniture EVER! A bit of backstory: DH graduated from college a year before me and set off to his first grown up job while I stayed in school. It was a week before his job was to start and he had made no progress on actually finding a house to live in or furnishings to put in it (DH is brilliant but he tends to procrastinate about domestic chores-and he's ridiculously forgetful so he tends to forget important things). At this point his mom took over; she picked out a townhouse and headed to the furniture store to fill it. DH never actually saw the apartment before he signed the lease.

His mom did an awesome job! We loved our townhouse (until the lady who taught piano moved in next door-but that was 2 years later) and we loved most of the furniture she had picked out. The whole house matched and was tastefully decorated in a beautiful western theme. 6 months later I moved in and the nicely decorated house began to take on more and more of my decorating style. I'm not sure you can actually call it a style though, if you were going to it would be a cross between a 12 year old girl and a hobo who lives in a box. I buy what I like and don't worry if it actually matches anything else I own. I'm messy and cluttered, but I have early stage hoarding disease so our small town house was suddenly decorated with Snoopy stuffed animals, hot pink throw pillows and piles of dirty clothes and books I had yet to read.

DH tolerated me ruining his artfully decorated home with surprisingly good grace for someone as OCD as he is (that's when I knew it was true love). The one thing we both agreed on was that we HATED the couch his mom had picked out. It was a very expensive couch, it matched the theme of the house perfectly and it looked very nice. However, sitting on it was less comfortable than sitting on a bed of nails. It had wooden arms, a wooden back, super hard cushions and it wasn't wide enough for us to cuddle on. You couldn't lean on the arms (even with a throw pillow behind your back) without them stabbing you. However, it was brand new and it looked great so we kept tolerating it as we waited for it to wear out.

This year I realized we were going to wait forever-this was a solidly constructed couch and it was never going to wear out. Our new house has a massive living room and our tiny couch looked a tad bit ridiculous in such a big space. Plus, on the rare occasions we had guests everyone ended up sitting on the floor since we didn't have any seating. We came up with a plan to move the torture couch to one side of the room and buy a nice comfy couch for us to actually sit on. We would double our seating area, not cause offense by getting rid of the evil couch and make our living room look less ridiculous.

Over Christmas my parents decided they were going to buy new furniture as their couch was worn out and sagging at one end-I decided that we should take their old couch. We agreed to come back another time with a trailer and pick it up-it didn't look too great but it was comfortable! Once we were back home we headed to town to run errands and we happened to drive by an Ashley Furniture that was having a grand opening sale. We stopped in to take a quick peek and we were pretty disappointed by the offerings. However, we did find the most awesome and comfortable couch in the world. It looked amazing, it matched our house, it was big enough for DH and the dog and myself to sit on it all at once and it had recliners. It was on a super great sale that day so we jumped on it and purchased it (paying in full and in cash).

One thing you must know about DH and I is that we are not impulsive people. We are of the generation raised to read reviews and carefully consider each purchase, I'm ridiculously high strung and we both tend to end up with paralysis by analysis. It took us almost 2 years (and the viewing of hundreds of houses) to pick the house we wanted, and the only reason we bought it was because my mom talked us into it. By nature (and as a product of the teachings of our parents) we are careful with our money and one of the ways we live such a comfortable life is to be very careful.with how we spend our money. The $600 dollars we were spending on the couch (and the extended five year warranty) wasn't a ton of money, but it was a decent chunk of change.

I don't know what came over us that day, but we jumped right into the couch purchase. We didn't read any reviews or have one of our marathon debates over the pros and cons. Within 20 minutes of entering the store we were $600 poorer and I was starting to question if we had made the right decision. We were told that we could take the couch home that day-after we paid (and they spent 10 minutes trying to talk us into a ridiculous financing deal) we were told that they would have to order the couch and it wouldn't be in for 2 weeks. That was annoying and frustrating but we could live with it. In fact, it worked better for us since we wanted to clean the carpets and reorganize the living room before setting up the couch.

My mom was really surprised when I sent her a picture of the couch and shocked that we were making such a quick decision. We waited and waited and finally right as the two weeks were up the couch arrived! I happened to be away visiting my parents for the weekend so it fell to DH to go pick it up (they wanted $180.00 to deliver it!). He drove down to get it and spent almost 30 minutes in line at the distribution warehouse waiting. He was already pissed off because we had been told we would be able to pick it up at the store-that wasn't the case and he had to drive an extra 20 miles to the downtown warehouse (when you live in the country picking up something on the other side of a major city is a HUGE undertaking and adds a lot to the 30 mile drive you've already made).

He finally got the couch home and went to take the back off so it would fit in the door-we were told the back just lifted off when we purchased the couch. He spent almost 2 hours (and several Google searches) trying to figure out how to get the stupid back off the couch. It's at this point I must point out that DH is an engineer-he regularly takes apart very expensive machines and puts them back together-he's very good at his job but he was no match for this couch.

He finally gave up and decided to wait until the next day when his friend was coming over so he would have some help. At this point Ashley had told us several lies and we were thinking some pretty nasty thoughts about them as a company. The next day DH got the couch all set up and made a very interesting discovery-one of the bars under the reclining portion of the couch was mangled and therefore it wouldn't work. Essentially we paid for a whole functioning couch and received half a couch. DH was too pissed off to call so we waited a couple of days before calling them.

DH is NOT nice to customer service people if he feels they aren't doing their job correctly so I was the one who ended up having to call. I'm usually a pretty nice person since I've worked retail and I understand how sucky it can be to get yelled at for something that isn't your fault. I called and the first gentleman was very rude-he kept insisting that we had somehow broken it while we were bringing it inside the house. I kept explaining that the non-broken side had wood screwed underneath it to protect it during shipping while the broken side did not. I also kept explaining that we had purchased the extended warranty so that should be covered even if we had broken it. He finally ended up saying to me "It's your fault for buying the couch" and hung up on me.

I called back and got another rep who was much nicer. I felt bad for him since I was still smarting from my run in with the other rep and he got an earful (I can be quite angry when I need to be). He agreed that they would order the part and send someone out to fix it. I was happy until I discovered that it was going to be two weeks for the part to arrive and another two weeks before a repair team could be dispatched to our rural town. By that time I will have spent 6 weeks of my life waiting on this couch! I asked if we could be given our money back and return the couch-I liked the couch but I was done with the frustration. I was told that they didn't allow returns, but that I would be given store credit minus a restocking fee. The refund wouldn't be enough to buy a comparable couch (since we had bought it so heavily discounted) or even a comparable chair. Plus, I wasn't about to lose 20% of my money for them to restock a broken couch.

I finally agreed to the repair but explained that I would need a Saturday repair time. I was told "Saturdays are really busy and you're so far away so you can't have that". I explained that I couldn't take time off work to deal with this and I was told I could just sneak out. I'm sure that my 8th graders won't notice that I'm missing right? I was about to go all Incredible Hulk again so I asked them to call me when they were ready to set up a repair time and we would deal with it then.

So far I'm not too happy about the way we've been treated and I'm regretting jumping in so quickly. After the fact I checked the reviews for Ashley Furniture and they were overwhelmingly negative-lots of people seem to be experiencing the same things we are. I should have listened to my gut and been my usual cautious self-if I had we wouldn't be experiencing all the aggravation and lost time. I will say that I love the half of my couch that isn't broken and I'm pleased with my purchase. I just wish I had given another company my hard earned money-like our local furniture store. I probably would have paid another few hundred dollars but I wouldn't spend a month sitting on a broken couch or have to take a day off work to wait for them to repair it.

Even though people may make fun of DH and I for being cautious we usually don't have to deal with a lot of frustration. We take our time and make sure we like what we're purchasing so we don't lose time and money to the returns process. I regret not doing that in this case. My overall conclusion is that you should always listen to your gut-even if people laugh at you for doing so. I can safely say that when it comes time for DH and I to upgrade the rest of our furniture we won't be spending our money at Ashley that's for sure!

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