This Furniture Store Uses Creative Math

Wow, look at this nice five-piece bedroom set. Only $599! Not bad, especially when the description says it’s normally $1800. Five different pieces—that would fill a bedroom with a lot of cheap class! Now let’s put the fine print filter on it:

Five-piece set includes headboard, footboard, wood rails/slats, dresser and mirror.

That’s right, the bed is actually three pieces. That nightstand and other dresser must have wandered onto the set accidentally.

Scott, who tipped us to this, writes, “So to Value City, a bed = 3 pieces? Sheesh! Why not consider each side rail a piece and call it a 6 piece set!?!” Great idea! We think we’ve discovered a whole new way to increase profits without raising prices: segmentation. Why, that dresser can be listed as a 7 piece storage system by itself, a pizza with twelve pepperoni slices on it is suddenly a 12-topping pizza, and KFC’s 2-piece chicken meal immediately doubles to a 4-piecer if you count the bones as individual units.

The important thing to remember is to use misleading photographs, though, or else your customers might not take the bait.

“Classic Cherry Queen 5-PC Bedroom Package” [Value City Furniture] (Thanks to Scott!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. sir_pantsalot says:

    Well then how much for just the two side rails?

  2. shepd says:

    Wow, so the bed is on sale from $1299 down to $100? Now *THAT’S* savings.

    I did the math by subtracting out this 26-piece set from their 5-piece set:


  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    It’s like Legos! That single castle is actually 250 pieces!

  4. Nyses says:

    And I thought they might actually, just count the bed as all 5 pieces. ( Headboard, Footboard, left side rail, right side rail, and Slats)

  5. urban_ninjya says:

    LoL.. if that set was in ikea.. then we can call it a 190 pc set.. (don’t forget about counting the screws?)

  6. previously valued at 1800 bucks because it used to include the rest of the 27 peice set

  7. from their website

    Not responsible for typographical and pictorial errors, inaccuracies, or omissions that may relate to product pricing and descriptions. Value City reserves the right to make corrections and/or update information at any time, without prior notice.

    how are they NOT responsible?

  8. sean77 says:

    A bed has always been 3 pieces though. We bought our headboard and footboard separately. Picture is misleading, I’ll give you that, but referring to a bed as 3 pieces isn’t.

    I thought it was common knowledge to always look at what pieces are included in a multi-piece set. Next we’ll have a story that a 4 piece knife set is only 2 knives, a pair of scissors, and the knife block itself! Horror!

  9. sonneillon says:

    Just cause they say they are not responsible for deceptive advertising does not make it true.

  10. SexierThanJesus says:

    Build your own bed!!! Personal responsibility people!!!

  11. sir_pantsalot says:

    @SexierThanJesus: or in true consumerist fashion you can save money by sleeping with someone else in their bed everynight. Some mornings are better than others.

    *may not be true

  12. []

    this is a real 5 peice set. my mom has worked in furniture for many many years, and it’s misleading to say “bedroom set” is 5 peices when you’re considering the bed to be 3. The average person may not know a bed comes in more parts than you think, and to have a picture up of a room with coordinating furniture and it adds up to 5 peices, the furniture company is being somewhat shady.

    But thank GOD for the small print.

  13. @mandiejackson: what’s up horrible syntax day

  14. Mr_Human says:

    I love it when retailers say “compare at $xxx.” It doesn’t mean that it’s a sale on their regular price, but what _others_ might be selling something like this at. Classy!

  15. Geekybiker says:

    Saying a bed is 3 pieces is little deceptive, but when ordering a bed the head, foot, and rails are often separate sku’s.

  16. katylostherart says:

    @mandiejackson: because NO ONE is ever responsible.

  17. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    You expected better from Value Shitty?

    Don’t forget the box spring and mattress.

  18. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @Mr_Human: Haha, I make fun of my family when they buy items at stores that have “COMPAIRE TO ORIGINAL PRICE” on the tag.

    “Look at this shirt I got, only $10”
    “What was the ‘original’ price, $500?”

  19. Trust me, I'm a doctor says:

    Reminds me of Chris Rock ordering ribs, How much for one rail?

    And yes, buying furniture at Value City is a great idea. If by great idea you mean having to replace whatever you bought in 3 years because it has fallen apart. It’s better than thrift store furniture, but not by much.

  20. davere says:

    Rooms2Go (maybe a FL only chain?) does this exact same trick.

    Add a few hundred more for the nightstands, the armoire, queen size bed instead of full and you end up paying twice the original price.

    I refuse to shop there.

  21. Im the typical idiot that would fall for that. *bows* I admit it

  22. samurailynn says:

    @Trust me, I’m a doctor: Actually, I bought a really awesome couch at a thrift store for about $50. Everyone says it’s the most comfortable couch they’ve ever sat on. I’ve had it for almost 3 years now, and we’ll probably reupholster it in the next couple of years which will add quite a bit to the price tag. However, we’ll do the reupholster ourselves, so it will still be cheaper than having bought a brand new couch.

  23. RudeandRude says:

    Pretty typical. You’ll be hard pressed to find a furniture store that DOESNT advertise like this. I’ve bought plenty of furniture over the past 10 years and every store/website I’ve been to uses the same deceptive shit.

    It’s scummy business practice, really. You’re treating your customers like idiots before they are even your customers.

  24. Xerloq says:

    You can buy headboards and footboards separately. The rails make the whole thing look spiffy, so a bed is three pieces.

    In my case I don’t want the rails or footboard, because I attached a headboard to the bed-frame and use a bedskirt, so the rail’s wouldn’t be seen anyway.

    I don’t think this is deceptive, or creative math. Every furniture store I’ve seen counts the bed as three pieces if it includes a headboard and footboard and rails. I don’t like it when you have to buy a frame in addition to the aforementioned pieces, but that’s my $0.02.

  25. RudeandRude says:

    @Xerloq: When you show a picture of a bed, dresser, nightstand, armoire and mirror and say “5 PIECE SET ONLY $599”, that is deceptive advertising when you really mean just the bed, dresser and mirror.

  26. Norcross says:

    Just bought a new set from American Signature. Same deal, I assumed that how they all were. After all, they had 3 different headboards to choose from in the ‘style’ my wife and I chose.

  27. donkeyjote says:

    Atleast they aren’t using the dreaded VERIZON MATH *Dun Dun DUNNNNN*

  28. @mandiejackson:

    It is “outsourcing”

    Companies “hire” firms (sometimes nothing more than a couple geeks hiding in the corner of their corporate headquarters {bedroom}) to handle their webpage and print media products.

    We all know a geek that can’t find his/her butt with both hands tied behind his/her back. So how could a company expect thier “inhouse” or “outsource” geeks do a good job?

    This is actually a serious problem. I find many sites that are “wonderfully” filled with incorrect information. Take a look at that website. Ya think they do their own content? Nope, it comes from the manufacturer or worse the manufacturer’s ad firm. Who is prepping the information for the manufacturer? A couple geeks that have never bought a bedroom set, sold a bedroom set, own a bedroom set or actually seen a bedroom set. Gosh darn, no wonder the content is misleading…. and why a disclaimer is needed.

  29. ByeBye says:

    This sounds a lot like how Big Lots! sells it furniture. Used to work in the Furniture dept for a few months at a local Blots, and we were told that we were selling a three piece bedroom set.

    Here’s a five piece set right here!: []

  30. ophmarketing says:

    When did Value City become a “Furniture Store”? I always thought of it as the place to go to pick up cheap inflatable swimming pools and post-season Halloween decorations.

  31. HeavyDiaper says:

    Describing the bed as three pieces is not only accurate, but an industry standard. Many people purchase bed frames without a headboard, footboard, or both. This is completely normal.

    Throwing in the extra furniture from the line into the picture would be deceptive if there is no option to purchase the other pieces of furniture, but I really doubt that’s the case.

  32. Jubilance22 says:

    @Norcross: American Signature is owned by the same folks who own Value City furniture. So basically you got the same crappy furniture, only marked up.

  33. Jubilance22 says:

    @ophmarketing: I grew up in MI and our Value City always had two sides, the dept store side and the furniture side.

  34. backbroken says:

    Ah, fond memories of Value City. Back in the halcyon days of eBay, I used to head over to the local Value City and stock up on popular football jerseys for $14.99. I’d turn them around on eBay for anywhere from $35 – $45. Never had an unsatisfied customer and made a few hundred dollars every season.

  35. danthefreakinman says:

    I almost bought a bedroom set from VCF recently. Granted, to the average person a bed isn’t 3 pieces, but when you read “12 truckloads of furniture, 1 Volkswagen, and box of jelly beans for $4.99!!!!” you should be a little suspicious and read the smaller font below.

    Just saying…

  36. geoffhazel says:

    Speaking of “compare to” … we were shopping in Victoria BC last weekend, and wandered into a shop with “50% off sale” all over it.

    Sure enough, a 50% off sale inside!

    The Italian leather belt that was normally $200.00 was only $100.00. The jacket that was normally $190 was marked down to $95.00.

    And of course, even the sale prices were high.

    I’m sorry…. did I really LOOK THAT DUMB to you??

  37. nsv says:

    @sean77: But… I bought a pair of scissors, and only got one!

  38. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    Yeah, what a total rip. Fortunately, I found the exact same bed set (except it is a 3 piece) coincidentally while looking for furniture for my new place tonight. Even the same picture! But it is $299! []
    And your prayers are even answered! The three pieces are “headboard” “footboard” and “rails and slats”. Boy, it is like they read the Consumerist!

  39. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    Deceptive marketing aside, the comments about VCF selling crap are full of it. I’ve bought a lot of stuff there and it all lasted for years. Besides, if you pay half as much, and it lasts half as long, you made out fine and you get to pick something new.

    My bigger problem with them is the other pieces in the package are much more expensive. I bought a nice couch for $400. Matching loveseat was $350, chair $300, ottoman $300. Yeah, I’ll just take the couch.

  40. RetailGuy83 says:

    Am I the only person that thinks $600 for a wooden sleigh bed and matching dresser and mirror is totally reasonable?

  41. bobreck says:

    As much as I despise Value City Furniture, they’re kinda getting treated a little unfairly here. This is typical of almost any furniture store you walk into. It just so happens that my wife and I are currently shopping for a new bed. We very quickly learned that any x-piece set always includes the bed as 3 pieces. Do I agree with it, absolutely not. But I have come to accept it. Including a picture of what any normal human being would consider 5 pieces is definitely deceptive. But every store we have shopped at does it… Room Store, Gardiner’s, Gavigan’s and yes, Value City.

  42. reiyaku says:

    this smells like a lawsuit… i mean come on, thats pretty much false advertising. Isn’t there something a law or something that prohibits falsified ads?

  43. @davere:

    No, Rooms2Go has invaded other parts of the country as well.

  44. bagumpity says:

    Teach your children well.

    At our house, we often dig out an advertisement or retail flier and ask “why is this a rip-off?” The kids spend a few minutes reading the fine print, deliberately misinterpreting the contents, etc.. It’s actually kind of fun. You’d be surprised how stupid the ad men think we are. Sometimes, it’s obvious, but other times it’s downright sneaky, which makes it into a game where the goal is to be the first to hunt down the rip-off. My kids like it because it’s fun to solve the puzzle. I like it because it increases their reading skills, critical thinking, and resillience to marketing practices.

    The Value City Furniture add would probably have been a puzzler, since we’re not really experts on furniture. Good find, OP!

  45. WhirlyBird says:

    @Trust me, I’m a doctor: Not only are thrift stores cheaper, but they weed out a lot of crappy furniture. My GF needed a coffee table, and I wanted to hit the thrift stores. She wanted a new one, so we got one at “Bargain Town”. One screw per leg, through cheap MDF board. It lasted less than two days. It will end up in the dumpster. By the time something ends up in a thrift store, it has usually taken a beating, and, if it’s crap, the thrift store won’t touch it. So I find thrift store furniture is usually much more sturdy and reliable. And that’s not even counting the cost ($20 for my used coffee table, $60 for her new one).

  46. WhirlyBird says:

    @RetailGuy83: Yes, yes you are.

  47. patodonnell39 says:

    @mandiejackson: I can’t stand when companies mislead and deceive on purpose and then just say they’re not responsible. The near the top of shady things I truly despise.

  48. balthisar says:

    Wow, my wife’s been bugging me for a new bedroom set, and she showed me that exact ad! When I pointed out what the “set” included, she was instantly let down.

  49. ShariC says:

    Beds have always been three pieces – headboard, footboard and frame. My bed has none of these (just a mattress and box spring). The picture may mislead, but the information about what is included is hardly “fine print” as it’s the same size as all the other text in the advertisement. This seems like a pretty over-blown as something worthy of getting worked up about.

  50. psyop63b says:

    This is standard practice in furniture from what I can tell. Still, it’s absurd.

  51. maynard62 says:

    I started to call bs on this being standard practice, but several of you have noted that it has been in your experiences. However, there is at least one store that sells a bed (headboard, footboard, rails and slates) as one piece — Haverty’s lists everything that makes up a bed as one piece and it has one sku. I don’t know about the rest of you but if someone is selling me a bed that is exactly what I expect.

  52. mariospants says:

    Regardless of wether or not you *can* break a bed down into 3 individual SKUs, and whether or not this ad breaks any laws, I’d boycott this company on principal alone.

  53. ELC says:

    We actually have several pieces of furniture from them – bedroom and living room. BUT their “compare at” signs are absolutely retarded. They are on everything and each time I was there I mocked them. I could put “compare at $10,000” if I wanted, but that wouldn’t mean anything more than their signs do. Also, they are not the only ones who count pieces this way.

    oh, all the furniture we bought was solid wood, tongue/groove joints, wood on wood drawers/slides, etc – very hard to find that kind of stuff today. :(

  54. ELC says:

    @Trust me, I’m a doctor: Not true, see my post below about the quality of what we got. We shopped at EVERY furniture store in Fredericksburg, VA and came back there several times simply b/c of the construction techniques. Not saying all of the furniture is made like the pieces we got, but what we bought is sturdy and long-lasting construction. not veneers, not cheap screws.