Adventures in Couch-Buying


So, the wife & I been saving to buy a new couch & loveseat for quite a while. We’ve been very casually looking at furniture stores since last October.  Retail sales people in general really bother me.  I tense up when they approach.  It’s impossible to walk into any furniture store & browse without a sales person being on you like white on rice.  I have an issue with the titles too.  They never call themselves sales people.  It’s always “associate” or “specialist” or “floor manager” or “Archduke of Ass-cushions”.  You’re there to sell furniture and make commission, not to help me with the interior design in my house or really even to sell me what fits my needs.  You want to up-sell as much as possible.  I know that, you know that… why can’t you admit that you know I know it?  Pardon me, I’m getting ahead of myself.

At Levin’s they weren’t interested in showing us anything other than the most expensive couches.  Once they got an idea of our budget, they weren’t interested.  Roomful Express was a veritable pressure cooker with a “buy it now because we’re going out of business” style sales pitch.  So, no warranty then?  Ikea is great, and we love the place for other reasons, but none of the couches that we saw on our last few trips fit our style and budget.  Big Lots had some affordable furniture, but the couch we had considered there only came in one awful orange-tinted brown… and it just brought poop to mind.

That brings us to the events of tonight.  We had passed by the DFW on Rte. 51 a week or so ago, but we decided to check it out.  We had looked at a few of their pieces online and were happy with the price & selection.  We decided to stop at Value City first since it was on the way & we were out looking.  The plan was to look around at Value City, check DFW in person, and if we needed to hit Value City on the way home, we could do that.  We could not have had two more divergent experiences.  I will mention sales persons’ names below, as it’s my intent to contact both Value City & DFW with the details of our experiences.  They both need to know what’s going on in their stores, good & bad.

As we were walking up to the door at Value City, we could see a young sales guy looking out the front window directly at us as if we couldn’t also see him.  He ran out of our view to his left, not unlike a puppy running to get some treats.  I said to Bethany “Wow, this guy’s going to be all over us before we’re even in the door.”  I was wrong.  Another sales guy was on us as soon as we were in the door.  He appeared like Batman disappears in the movies & cartoons.  I really have no idea where this guy came from.  He was just there.  I say “sales guy”, but he called himself a “floor designer”, commented on Bethany’s Penguins hoodie, and introduced himself as Bill.  Bill asked what we were looking for, we said couches, and he gave is a well-rehearsed (read: tired) spiel about how we were “here for two things; eye appeal and butt appeal”.  Things like “it’s got to be comfortable”, “sit on it, jump on it, relax”, “microfiber is just a fancy way of saying 100% polyester” were said.  Also, there were mentions of how their parent company owns Big Lots and DHL and a few other companies… which have absolutely no bearing on me buying furniture.  I’m not impressed with image.  Cheesy, but at that, he let us off to browse on our own.  We made our way up the first aisle, down the second, and were on the way up the third when Bill caught us again.  Along the way, we saw two couch/loveseat sets that we really considered purchasing.  We had our mind set on one because it was comfortable and within our budget and we were frankly just in the mood to finally purchase a couch this evening.  When Bill caught up to us the second time, we may have confused him, as we talked in passing to another family who had just walked in the front door.  Bill proceeded to introduce himself to us and give the same “eye appeal and rear appeal” into the “microfiber=polyester” speech that we had just heard less than ten minutes earlier.  As we were just into the third aisle, we were beginning to realize that most of this furniture was above our budget… so the plan was to walk through quickly.  Bill caught us by a rather ugly yet comfy reclining sofa that was ridiculously priced and begged us to sit in it.  We obliged.  Then Bill proceeded to tell is that we may recognize him from TV as he’s the “furniture doctor” (or something to that effect) on KDKA.  He also said that he sold this same couch to Tyler Kennedy & Max Talbot, then named some Steelers for good measure.  This is where my mind was made up that we wouldn’t be buying anything from Value City.  I don’t care who else has the same couch as me, and these local sports heroes will never be sitting on my couch… so it really is irrelevant.  Also… I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but just looking at us, he should have known that the couch in question was way out of our price range.  I would like to make it clear that the only reason that we didn’t buy a couch from Value City this evening is Bill Crewson.  I found him to be pretentious, pompous, and obnoxious.  We escaped Bill’s sales pitch of doom, and had a discussion around the first corner.  My wife agreed with my assessment and decided that worst-case scenario, we would come back & deal with a different sales associate because Bill was not getting a dime of commission from us.  We promptly headed to the door.  Bill again appeared out of nowhere and handed us a business card as we were on the way out the door, title being “Home Furnishing Consultant”.  Get your title/position straight, Bill.  Consistency is a good thing.  As soon as we got home, I fired up Firefox and Googled the bejesus out of Bill’s name on KDKA’s website.  I can find no mention of Bill by name or by “furniture doctor” or “couch doctor” or whatever he called himself (or anywhere else on the web).  If someone knows Tyler Kennedy or Max Talbot, tell them to call me to talk about their couches.

Next, we went to DFW.  The experience there was as refreshing as Value City was exasperating.  We weren’t immediately pounced upon when we walked in the door.  After we had made our was across the front of the store, we were casually approached by a Mr. Matt Walker.  He asked us what we wanted, and what our needs were.  He explained what they had, how the discounts worked if you bought outright vs. a payment plan, and set us free to roam around the store.  Still reeling from Value City, I thanked Matt for being the first sales person in a furniture store that wasn’t so far up my rear-end that they were looking out my mouth.  He laughed like he hears that a lot.  Bethany & I were able to take our time, look at the prices, sit on the couches… and we again found two sets that we liked and that fit our budget.  The one didn’t come in any different colors, so we happily picked the other, and we had to seek out Matt to let him know that we were ready to make a purchase.  To not be hovered over, or approached a second time with some sort of practiced sales pitch, or to not be only shown the most expensive pieces on the floor was a huge deal.  Happily, the set we wanted was well under budget at the advertised price.  Not only that, but we got a discount for paying for it all at once.  There was also another deeper discount because the floor model was the only one left.  We looked it over, were satisfied with the condition and quality and went with it.  We did purchase a reasonably priced protection plan for the cushions and there was a standard delivery fee… and we were still under the advertised price for the set.  I urge anyone in the Pittsburgh area looking for cheap quality furniture to seek out Matt Walker (Store Manager) at DFW on Rte. 51.  DFW should send all of their managers and sales persons to Matt to be trained.  They would be wise to pick up his tactics and demeanor.  The delivery is set for tomorrow, I’ll have to pop up a photo and let you know how that goes!

About these ads

14 responses to “Adventures in Couch-Buying

  1. Great post, Eric. You are the voice of the discerning consumer (Might wanna check this one over for typos, though).

    • Ha ha, thanks man. I just don’t know how sales tactics like that work. It’s ridiculous. Ha.

      I do need a proofreader, I just sort of… “go”. Firefox has spell-check built-in, so not sure why I didn’t see some typos… :D

  2. Pingback: Couches | World (and Lunar) Domination

  3. I am writing from the corporate headquarters of Value City Furniture. We never want to hear that a customer has not had a good experience with one of our stores; but, if we do hear of such a case, we wish to do whatever we can to address and resolve the complaint. I have taken the time to read your blog and would like to reach out to you for more information and a chance to provide resolution. If you would like to send me additional information, please visit vcf.com. There you can click on customer service and contact us to submit additional details. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Thanks Jeremy, I’ll be sending you an email via the contact form, but I’m not sure what else I can provide detail-wise. My whole experience is above. As far as a resolution, we do now have a great couch/loveseat set that we’re quite happy with!

  4. Eric, I’m glad that I could help you out at my store. I really try to make the buying experience at DFW as easy, and fun as possible. I’m not there to twist your arm and force anyone into anything that they do not want or need. I really appreciate the time you took to send the link to my boss and owners. We all appreciate your business and hope we can help you in any future needs. Thanks again. Matt Walker

  5. This is so interesting to me, because I just did the same thing looking for bunk beds for our son. We had gotten a great deal on our couch at Levin’s clearance center, so stopped there first. They were having a late Sunday eve sale, with a free rug & live violin music. We found a bed we liked on our own. All sales people were busy, and none offered assistance. We had some q’s but chose to leave. A sales lady looked right at us yet walked on.
    At Value City, we were approached by the salesman just inside the door, who asked what we were looking for, led us right to the bunk beds explaining what they had, which was very little, and he left. It would have been easy to find him again but they didn’t have what we wanted & there was no pressure to buy what they had.
    We had already found what we liked at DFW online so we stopped there last. We wanted to purchase & had to go find someone to help us with that! They rang up our order & we’re picking it up tomorrow. Easy peasey!

  6. Pingback: Furniture Follow-Up and Fallout | World (and Lunar) Domination

  7. Amazing blog entry, as always! As much as IKEA pisses me off sometimes, this is one of the main reasons why we shop there so much. I can’t STAND the typical salesperson.
    You guys should start doing what Dustin and I do: wear band t-shirts and act like the children we are when making large purchases. We find that sales people are far less pushy (and even more honest!) when we don’t look like we have money. It can also be a very interesting psychological study when they realize that they’ve misjudged our buying power or knowledge. The good ones ALWAYS win with us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just turned and walked out of a store/dealership because I didn’t like the way we were being treated.

    • Ha ha, thanks. It’s cool how the internet just makes word-of-“mouth” all that much faster. I did dress rather normally… standard issue T-shirt & hoodie… I don’t think I looked like the type to buy a $6000 couch… but dingleberry was trying to sell me one anyway. Like I said, we did almost buy one there too. Ha ha. Sucks for him that he opened his mouth that 3rd time with the same spiel. Lucky for me we went on to DFW. We came in waaay under budget & found a better couch.

      Ikea is awesome, but the last few times there none of the couches fit what we were looking for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s