You Call That Customer Service?

In January of this year, I had an opportunity to decorate a penthouse in Washington, DC from start to finish in only 8 days, for clients moving here from another country.  The apartment needed to be furnished, site unseen by the client until they walked in the day of their arrival.  I am finally sitting down to write a few blogs about my adventure, as there was a lot that I experienced during those 8 days.

Because of the tight deadline, I was left with no option other than to buy directly off of the retail floor and the experiences I had with local retailers was eye opening.  After spending hours making phone calls to various furniture stores in the area, I finally found one – and only one – retailer who would sell directly from the floor as opposed to custom ordering.

The staff knew we were coming in to potentially make large purchases, as I had briefed the manager on the situation beforehand.  Six hours and $48,000 later, we had purchased most of the main items for the penthouse.  Everything from sofas, rugs, china cabinets, dining table and chairs, accessories and artwork, was purchased and scheduled to be delivered 7 days later.

I would think that any retail store that had even the potential of such a large sale the first week of the year would be ecstatic and try to be very accommodating to designers.  In the 6 hours we were there (did I mention it was during a snowstorm?), the staff did not even offer us a bottle of water.

With a $48,000 payday (and I’m assuming we took the pressure off of their first quarter sales), they were not willing to waive the $300 delivery fee.  Instead, they chose to explain how they made exceptions for us which included splitting up a pair of vases that otherwise would have been sold together.  Really?

I’m not sure I would return to this store unless I had another project where buying off of the floor was a necessity.  What happened to common customer service?