Repair & Care
Buy Online Or Local Store?
Competition Is Fierce On The Internet
There are fantastic deals online with major products, but there are some drawbacks one may encounter when buying such a large bulky load of flooring. It's not like buying a CD and letting the post office deliver it.
My experience has shown buying online has more advantages when you're seeking price. Other items that need to be addressed are warranties. I've put together some timely tips worth reading on what is not covered under wood floor manufacturer warranties. Warranties can be a grey area on many products sold. One mishap and the warranty can be voided. This can happen with a local dealer, and an internet seller.
No Sales Taxes!
Buying online eliminates the sales tax you would normally be required to pay unless the seller has operations within the state that you live. Here's one good example. Simplefloors.com has retail stores in California, Washington, Oregon, and Georgia. Any purchases online will be taxed at the going rate in those states.
Disadvantages of buying online include inconveniences waiting for your delivery to arrive. Trucking companies do not have set schedules and they ordinarily allow a four hour window on when they will show. However, not everything goes like clockwork in the business world and especially trucking. Online companies give several options with two of the most common being residential delivery and freight terminal pickup.
For those that have a schedule to maintain it is sometimes much easier to do the freight terminal pickup, providing the terminal is within reasonable distance. This insures you will not be inconvenienced, but calling ahead to the terminal can eliminate delays.
What Are The Differences? Delivery or Pickup Options
Residential involves the trucking company delivering to the end of your driveway. Yes, end of the driveway and not any further. Liability factors prevent them from going on driveways due to the excessive weight of the trucks. They will also not unload the order unless separate provisions are paid for.
Two of these additional provisions include lift gate service or hand delivery into the home or business. The latter is not available with most companies and will get pricey. It doesn't stop there. Understanding lift gate service can be tricky. Lift gate is a device that lowers the pallet of goods from the truck to street level on a pallet jack. For those unfamiliar, pallet jacks are often used in grocery or department stores. They also cannot be pushed up hills or across surfaces other than concrete or asphalt.
As you can hopefully read between the lines, residential delivery may be out of the question for some unless you're prepared. For those with very long driveways it's often best to find someone with a pickup truck where the individual cartons or bundles of flooring can be off loaded from the freight company to pickup and go from there.
Freight terminal pickup entails the trucking company bringing the goods on a pallet from inside their warehouse to your vehicle on a forklift. For larger orders, pallets can be loaded on to vehicles capable of handling such. Smaller orders or individual cartons can often be loaded into the vehicle by hand from the loading dock.Freight Damage
Freight damages do happen! My personal experience has shown most of it comes from improper packaging at the origin point. Most, if not all online vendors do not buy direct from the manufacturer (although they lead you to believe this). Instead they buy from regional distributors. Theses are same ones that sell the same product to your local flooring store.
Some larger distributors don't take the time of day to package a shipment properly. This issue drove me bananas. One reason why I decided to call it quits with online sales. Some products come from manufacturers on smaller pallets that may be safe for transfer to a local flooring dealer, but sending it across country with common freight companies is a problem waiting to happen. The more times it gets transferred the greater chances of damage. Folks, freight companies do not ship in a straight line. They have major distribution points like Federal Express has in Memphis, TN.
But...you can make the difference.
If you're squeamish on buying over the web, worrying about problems that may happen, I discovered most of them came from customers that do not do their part. In order to have a problem free experience from start to finish any consumer should be aware of what will occur. Ordinarily a five minute read on many sites that sell products covers all bases. These pages are usually called shipping or policies/terms, and should be found at the top or bottom of every page. If you find a great price on another site that doesn't spell out what to expect I would highly suggest avoiding them.
Another interesting tidbit about online companies is who they are and how to contact them. When I dropped online sales in February of 2008 I sought out advertisers, or those I competed against over the years. Actually some didn't consider us competition really. In any event, I researched all the contact information on twelve respective websites. Letters were sent to all twelve. Three were returned as being unable to deliver at the address provided. Wow! I'll leave the rest up to you.
In the four years I sold on the internet to approximately 3,000 customers we had three complaints that went as far as the Better Business Bureau. All three were a result of consumers not doing their part. In actuality we only received complaints from two persons and not three. Two were from the same dissatisfied customer.
These problems could have been avoided had the customers read our shipping policies thoroughly. One was "we didn't count the boxes because it was raining." The other was disturbed we would not help on a damaged product, but the product was thrown in the trash before we could get an assessment. Any damages MUST be kept for freight or other shipping companies to inspect, should they want to.
Conclusion: We know many will consider the overall cost in making the decision. When buying locally you will have support you can see in person should a problem happen. Problems happen on both ends. I've found internet dealers today take of problems quickly. You are also well protected with credit card companies when buying online. I would not however, use this as a weapon to settle problems. If you have a problem, talk with the company calmly regardless of your situation or time schedule. Chances are greater problems will be resolved quickly with reasonable and professional exchanges.
Finally, I would insist reading again; "Ordinarily a five minute read on many sites that sell products covers all bases. These pages are usually called shipping..."