Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fun with Furniture

142 Fun with Furniture

Used car salesmen used to get a lot of heat.

But times have changed. Now, they’re respectable. The cars aren’t “used,” they’re “pre-owned.” They aren’t inspected, they’re “certified.” Some used car showrooms are more like salons than sales floors.

It’s no longer a guy in a Spike Jones plaid suit with a bunch of bad tin on a sandy lot with a wooden outhouse of an office who sells you the car. It’s become a “retail experience,” rather than a hassle with someone trying to push you into a “…honey of a car, something you can pass along to your grandchildren, and the last DeSoto ever built.”

Gone are the glory days when you never knew whether the car you were buying had been in a flood or a fire … or its previous owner was the wheelman at a series of bank holdups.

But have no fear. There’s a finite amount of sleaze in the world and it can be neither created nor destroyed. It just moves around a bit.

For example, some of what used to taint the used ca…. oh, wait, sorry: the pre-owned car business now has transferred to the furniture business.

Here are some rules, developed over a year’s work in furnishing one single family house from scratch:

1. Never order anything. Buy nothing that isn’t already “in stock and ready for delivery.” Delivery is NEVER on time. Dealers blame factories (“they closed for three weeks in July and never told us.) They blame the truckers (“that driver always comes in with attitude. He bangs around the stuff a lot.) They blame their own salespeople (“she never should have told you that it was available in Oktoberfest Amber. That color was discontinued right after the catalogue was printed.”) They blame the clerical staff (“our office manager had this huuuuge pile of paper on the desk and a lot of orders got lost.)

2. Every mattress is always on sale. The price “here” is lower than the competition. Every mattress is better than every other mattress because it’s higher/lower/softer/firmer/fits your body better/is made of secret foam material developed by Venutians for their space program/endorsed by the chiropractic association.

3. If you haven’t heard of the wood, don’t buy it. Mahogany, birch, cherry, oak, maple, pine. These are normal woods. People have been making furniture out of them for centuries. They work. Greenheart, Cocobolo, Pau Ferro. These are NOT normal woods. They may work as furniture and they may not. Stick with what you know, not some strange wood-like substance that is made from the leaves of rubber plants or far eastern seaweed.

4. “Laminate” means plywood. Veneer means veneer.

5. You can sit in a chair that costs a grand and you can sit in a chair that costs ten bucks. You’re still sitting and it’s still a chair.

6. There will be at least a defect in everything. A scratch, a color mismatch, an incomplete construction, a broken slat, a loose-fitting drawer, a glue joint with no glue. Something.

7. Unfinished undersides are standard. Even in the costliest stuff, no one finishes underneath anymore. They figure if you see the underside of something, you’ve fallen over and you’re either to injured or too drunk to remember it.

8. A brand name is not guarantee.

Finally… terms: Be careful of the “no money down/zero interest kind of arrangement. If you’re 20 seconds late with a payment, they take the stuff back. And collection is much MUCH more efficient than distribution.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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