If a store sells you something, and then fails to deliver the product, you should be entitled to a full refund, right? Not so at Furniture Bargains of Calumet City, IL. There, even when they don’t give you the furniture you ordered at all, they’ll take 20% off your refund, at “the manager’s discretion.” Which I guess is just a fancy way of saying, “we feel like robbing you today and the manager said it’s ok.” AJ’s story, inside…
I was recently in the market to purchase furniture for my new home. I looked at several places and saw some really nice things; however, on April 13, 2008 I settled on a lovely chocolate-brown sofa & loveseat set for $600 from Furniture Bargains, located at 1785 River Oaks Drive, Calumet City, IL 60409. The total package, including taxes and delivery, came to a total of $717.91 (with a 10% down-payment).
So since this was such a great deal, at the time, I decided to take advantage of their layaway plan of 30, 60, or 90 days. They also had at least 7 sets available for delivery. Great deal, right? WRONG!! I made my initial 10% down-payment of $72 and opted for a 60 day plan. On May 17, 2008, I made another payment of $300 and then I made another payment of $100 on June, 20, 2008 as well as extended my layaway plan for another 30 days. This brought my total paid thus far to $472.00.
So I called the furniture store on Monday, July 7, 2008, informing them that I was coming in later that evening to make a my last payment (well before my deadline) and inquired as to the date my furniture will be delivered. This is where the problem began. I was informed that my set was no longer available (meaning they were all gone) and when I inquired about how the situation could be resolved, the sales representative told me that I could wait another 4-6 weeks for another set. I feel that I and should not have to wait that long for a company. So, I visited the store later that same Monday and spoke with the same salesman whom I had spoken with earlier on the phone. He was the same individual who helped me set up the layaway plan for me almost three months ago. I asked him what could be done about the problem. Not only did he try to sell me something far cheaper than my original set, but when I mentioned that I did not like anything else within the store and I would prefer a refund because I only wanted that style, I was told that there are no refunds on layaways and was provided with no documentation showing that there were no refunds on layaways for items that are all sold out. He informed me that I could wait to speak with his manager who would not be in until two days later Wednesday, July 9, 2008.
Wednesday morning I called Furniture Bargains to speak with the manager. I was only able to briefly mention my situation to her (because she quickly ended our conversation) and explained that I was informed that there were no more furniture sets like the one I purchased. She mentioned that she was “suppose” to call me before she left for vacation to ask about the set but I never received the call. However, she did mention that she would look into the error and if she couldn’t find any more she would give me a full refund and call me back at 3pm that day. I didn’t speak with the manager again until 6:30pm that evening (after I had to call her numerous times throughout the day) and at this time she mentioned that the managers have a different inventory listing that their sales reps and that she “now” has one available for me. So, when I tried to ask about the quality and/or where the set was coming from, she rudely told me I could get a refund and hung up the phone. I called back to let her know that I would be in on Friday of the same week to get my refund and she informed me that “they” may charge me a cancellation fee.
On Friday afternoon, I visited the store a second time hoping to retrieve my refund. This time I was informed that I will be able to receive my refund; however, I will have to accept a 20% cut from my total amount paid. When I asked her about the “they” people and how was it determined that I was to receive a 20% cut, she then mentioned that that decision was made upon the “manager’s discretion”. Again she was not able to provide me with valid documentation showing either my signature for the non-refund or for the refund with a 20% fee. In addition, she abruptly stopped talking to me and began talking to another customer without resolving my problem. The store’s overall customer service is very poor and they disregard customers in a highly unethical manner.
Unbeknownst to her, I inquired about my set from another manager at another Furniture Bargains location and was also informed that there were no more sets available within any of the stores and/or warehouse (there was one within the system but it was someone else’s paid in full waiting to be delivered). Furniture Bargains has 10 store locations and they all operate out of 1 warehouse.
In the end I have no furniture, no money, and no where else to turn. No other location will assist me because I originally purchased at the River Oaks location and they have the authority to give me the refund or not.
If you could very much help with this problem, I would be very thankful. All I would like is my refund.
Assuming there is no clause in the layaway contract allowing for Furniture Bargains to steal 20% from AJ, I’m thinking small claims court is the best route. You gotta watch your ass when buying furniture, remember how that furniture industry insider described it as a “secret cabal?”