Furniture Buying Online: Read the Reviews and Don't Pay Shipping

Friday, May 14, 2010

My husband and I are preparing for a DIY master bathroom remodel. To the Pagles, this is drawn-out process of stockpiling clearance items, overstock products, and trade work with skilled plumber and electrician friends. One half of our garage could currently double as an abandoned kitchen and bath showroom.

We saved significantly when we gave up on locating a vanity locally and put our faith in the first-hand experiences of online reviews. To say the least, the web offers variety…one has to wonder whether many of these vanities would sell if the buyer saw them in person. And buying online doesn’t offer the assurance of “tire kicking” a piece of furniture. So my search started and ended with sites that offered buyer reviews attesting to construction quality.

One more way to kill the deal: Shipping. A piece of assembled furniture topped with a slab of marble has to come freight…on a pallet…in a semi. With any online purchase, I have to be pretty desperate to pay shipping. So there was no way I was paying an extra $160 (avg.) to ship this purchase. But Overstock’s $2.95 shipping really is $2.95, unless they indicate, “white glove delivery” – we’re not white glove people. Even better, I found a $1.00 shipping offer that combined with a $10 Overstock coupon and cash back. $1.00 shipping! Neither my husband nor the truck driver he was bragging to could believe it.

Buying online offered variety at a “big box” price. We now have a lovely spa-look single vanity collecting debris in our garage. We got exactly what the reviews predicted: a sturdy, stylish piece with minor marble and construction flaws. Fortunately, my crapshoot method of reviews and coupons worked out since we don’t have the luxury of returning it for $2.95. And Overstock’s too good but still true $2.95 shipping delivered it safely and for less than we’d have spent on gas ourselves.

Laura is a marketer, mom, and accomplished equestrian - not necessarily in that order. I've been at Fatwallet as lpickles since 2004 and a mom since 2006. My job at FatWallet keeps me close (sometimes too close) to the web's best deals  and bargain hunting insights.

My biggest battle when prioritizing work, family, interests, and maintaining my own identity, is remembering to slow down and stay frugal. Watch my posts for the tips and shortcuts I'm finding for managing a healthy and fun lifestyle for myself and family, while keeping my spending - and affliction for footwear - in check.

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