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Are you being served?

(24 Posts)
Doodledog Wed 10-Aug-22 23:52:21

We've been shopping today for furniture. That's not something we do often, and is something I'd rather not do at all, but it had to be done. We went to four shops and the service was markedly different between them.

Oak Furniture Land had a very eager and attentive young man who was really keen to help. He showed us around the store, listened to what we wanted and tried his best to find it. He couldn't, as the shop didn't stock what we were looking for, but he did try, even offering to pull things out and put them into the configuration we'd mentioned, and I felt bad leaving him without a sale.

Then we went to Barker and Stonehouse. I had to approach an 'assistant', who said vaguely that we might find something upstairs and continued her conversation. Upstairs was a young woman at a table who showed us through an Ercol catalogue despite the fact that they had nothing to show us and I'd said that I didn't want to buy unseen. After a couple of minutes she suggested that we might have more luck downstairs, where we'd started.

So on to Furniture Village. Again we were directed upstairs, but this time the assistant looked pointedly at me and suggested that we might want to use the lift. The lift was clearly designed for moving furniture and had controls resembling a forklift truck. When we got out Mr Dog made a quip about it. The assistant gave us a funny look and said that it was better than nothing, and continued in a rather peculiar manner for the rest of our visit. We looked at the items while she followed us chatting into her phone, but there wasn't much that was anything like what we wanted. There was one display unit thing (shelving on a cupboard base) that we quite liked (probably on the basis that anything was better than nothing) but was very narrow in depth. I wondered if I'd fit larger books on it, and the assistant suggested I stack them longways. I could get them a few deep that way, apparently. Erm, no.

We'd said that we didn't like the industrial look, and she kept returning to stuff that looked like washed up pallets he'd together with rivets and saying 'Oh, but you won't be interested in that, will you?' So we left.

Finally in desperation we hit IKEA. Entirely self service and entirely hellish. Bickering couples, bored children, no furniture that came close to what we were looking for, and a one-way system that meant we walked about 100 miles to get to the exit that was another 100 miles away from the car.

On the way home my daughter rang, and when I told her about the morning's experience she said that there was no pleasing me. Maybe she's right - I very rarely go to shops as I prefer to shop online, but you can't really tell what furniture will be like unless you see it so I made an exception.

What sort of service do you prefer? Would you rather have someone two steps behind you as you walk around the store, or do you prefer to be left alone and just guess at whether you can buy extra shelves, or if there is something like 'that one over there' in a larger or smaller width? Share your shopping experiences here smile.

Mandrake Thu 11-Aug-22 00:15:23

I prefer it when I can browse alone for a while, then get help when I need it. When I do need help though, I do appreciate when the sales people are available quickly so I can describe my needs and have them point me in the right direction. I don't like it when they hover though. It makes me uncomfortable.

Maybe you can find something you like online then go to the store to view?

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 00:27:26

We tried that, Mandrake but when we got there we realised that it wasn't what we wanted. I had hoped it would be in, look, measure up to make sure the dimensions online were right and buy, but it was not to be. I think we're going to get a joiner in to do what we want.

Hithere Thu 11-Aug-22 00:43:34

At least in the US, different furniture stores are specialized in different styles.

Maybe surfing online till you see a store that holds your style?

As for your daughter's comment - she might be onto something

The salesperson gave you the best suggestion to make his/her merchandise work

As for ikea, that's their very well known business model - self service and lots of steps in the pedometer.
May I ask what different experience did you hope to get in that store?

Hithere Thu 11-Aug-22 00:46:43

Even seeing the furniture in person is misleading.

I remember going to buy a sectional sofa, took measurements, it worked well with space....

We got it delivered and it was way bigger than it looked in the store, the colour was darker as the lights in the store were super bright.

It still worked out ok

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 00:49:29

You may.

I didn't really expect anything different from what I got. I had a vain hope that there might be something I hadn't seen online, and as it's well over 10 years since I was there that it may have changed.

The assistant in the first one was very helpful, as I said. If the store had stocked what we wanted I would have been pleased to buy from him, but it didn't.

As for the thread, I was really just chatting as I can't sleep, and thought someone might be up and fancy joining in.

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 00:50:45

You're right about things not looking the same in the shop though. Huge showrooms can make things look much smaller than they are in an average house.

grannydarkhair Thu 11-Aug-22 00:58:41

Doodledog Does what you’re looking for have to be new? What about auction houses or even charities? We have a really big BHF shop that only does furniture and white goods in one of our shopping centres.
I haven’t been furniture shopping for years, last thing I bought was a shelving unit for my bathroom from IKEA. I admit IKEA can be Hell on Earth, but if you pick your times/days, it can be fairly painless. I knew exactly what I wanted before I went, as did my daughter.
I hate a sales assistant following me around, doesn’t matter what I’m shopping for. If I need help, I’ll ask.

grannydarkhair Thu 11-Aug-22 00:59:23

And always take a tape measure with you.

Mollygo Thu 11-Aug-22 01:09:36

Armed with a tape measure we like to browse until we need help. Last time we bought anything, an enthusiastic assistant, I think it was in SCS, kept telling us there were other brands I might like-just come and look.
I don’t mind IKEA-though as John Bishop says, “It’s not a day out”. They leave you to browse unhindered unless you actually choose something. Haven’t been there since we bought a small shoe cabinet which keeps our hallway uncluttered.

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 01:33:10

grannydarkhair, no, I’d be happy with second hand, but we are decorating and I really need to know what is going where before the walls are painted. Mr Dog is angling for a tv to go on a wall and I want the cable in first to avoid having patched bits later on. There are other considerations such as the fact that we’re changing the flooring, too - I haven’t project managed very well!

Molly I like a lot of accessories in IKEA - some of them are ingenious - but the ranges we were looking at weren’t suitable for what we wanted.

MissAdventure Thu 11-Aug-22 02:52:55

I always think the "loaf" website looks as if they have lovely sofas.

Sara1954 Thu 11-Aug-22 06:24:34

The last sofa we bought I found online, but wanted to see it and sit on it, so we had to drive to the company factory in Lancashire, where they were most helpful.

Our other one came from Rossiters in Bath, exceptionally good service.

Calendargirl Thu 11-Aug-22 06:59:24

My cousin is moving into a bungalow, needs new sofas etc. She went to an independent furniture store at a small town fairly nearby, they brought a couple of sofas and chairs out ‘to try’, were quite happy to leave them in situ for a few days to see how she liked them.

If she went ahead with them, they would order ones to be made, wait of about ten weeks.

NanKate Thu 11-Aug-22 07:57:53

We’ve been looking for an old rocking chair for about 2 years. We asked the owner of an antique shop if he had one and to our surprise he said he’d got one in his lock up and he sent us a photo. We went to see it and it was just what we wanted. He said it would mend the one broken bit, it’s over 120 years old, and would deliver it the next day and here it is.

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 08:05:49

Mr Dog would love a rocking chair😀.

His father had one. I don’t know what happened to it, but it’s not at his mother’s house now.

That’s great sofa service, Calendargirl! We’re not looking for sofas, but I love the idea of being able to ‘test drive’ them.

Cheesey Thu 11-Aug-22 08:20:16

I was very interested to read Doodledog’s post as I have had a very similar experience recently.
We are downsizing to an apartment and are treating ourselves to new living room and bedroom furniture. We researched online first and saw items we liked in both Oakfurnitureland and Marks and Spencer.
We set off to both stores to view these items and had very different experiences in both.
In Oakfurnitureland we were approached very quickly by a pleasant young man who asked if we were looking for anything specific and pointed us in the right direction. He said he wouldn’t follow us around but if we had any questions at all to let him know. We did have quite a few questions as we were buying several items and he was very helpful.
We then went to Marks and spent some time in their furniture department. Staff were mainly noticeable by their absence apart from one woman sitting at a computer who did her level best to avoid eye contact. We definitely felt she didn’t want to be disturbed and therefore didn’t approach her.
At one point we spotted a group of young staff standing together talking and as we walked towards them purposefully hoping to get some help, they all scattered in different directions.
I was really disappointed at the lack of customer service in Marks. Needless to say we have ordered from Oakfurnitureland.

Franbern Thu 11-Aug-22 08:25:10

Doodledog, whenever I am considering the purchase of any large item (eg furniture), I spend a considerable time searching on line. With this I can get a good idea as to what is available, costs, and at which stores.

So, if looking for cupboards, shelving, etc would no go to somewhere like any store specialising in sofas, etc.

Ikea is brilliant for getting ideas. Yes, it takes time to get round it all, but you need not just follow that grey route. You can go directly to the areas which stock the furniture you are looking for.BUT....again I would have done all my research in advance from the comfort of my armchair.,so would know what they had on offer.

I have never found any problems in this way. When I wanted to purchase a new sofa and armchair a few years back, I did a preliminary look at a couple of stores near each other to get a good idea, then returned to store I chose one morning when the schools were all open, so I was virtually their only customer and the Sales Lady spent a good co uple of hours with me getting it allorted out.

1. Never do big item shopping during school holidays unless you really have to
2 Do full research in advance on line
3. Have all your measurements with you perhaps even some sort of drawn out layout
4. Have an idea as to colours etc

HowVeryDareYou Thu 11-Aug-22 08:32:02

I tend to look online for things, then go to the shop(s) and look at the item that I'd liked on the website. Having said that, we got 2 lovely leather Habitat settees last year, from Argos.

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 08:42:37

I did research online first, but wanted to see the quality and finish for myself. I went armed with a diagram of the room, courtesy of Mr Dog, with measurements in cm and inches, the radiator, door and window marked - even the fireplace, chimney breast and protruding mantelpiece and fire - were on there grin.

I was talking more about the difference between staff attitudes in the various places we visited than about the fact that what we are looking for is difficult to come by. As you say, Cheesey, it really does vary from store to store, and that was the point of the thread.

HurdyGurdy Thu 11-Aug-22 08:46:19

I accompanied my son recently when he was shopping for a new bed. The sales assistant came straight over to us and offered to help. They have a computer controlled bed that you lie on in various positions, and the computer works out what type of bed would suit you best. My son was offered, and accepted, the use of this bed to decide what would be best for him.

The assistant then took us to the various beds of that type in the store and said they would leave my son to browse them and try laying on them etc, and that we should go to the sales desk, where the assistant would be, if he needed more help.

That was the kind of sales experience I prefer. Initially offering help, but then leaving me to browse/shop with the offer of further help if needed.

I hate having a shadow when I'm looking around. It is guaranteed to have my swiftly leaving the store, and a lost sale.

sodapop Thu 11-Aug-22 09:06:51

I don't like to be followed around either but I do expect the sales staff to have a certain level of knowledge and interest in their product.

Hymnbook Thu 11-Aug-22 09:55:09

Within the last few months I have bought 3 matching items from Roseland furniture. All online. They are in Devon. Pleased with furniture and customer service.

Doodledog Thu 11-Aug-22 09:58:18

I have a bookcase on a landing from them, Hymnbook. I am pleased with it too. I browsed their site recently, but the majority of their ranges have overhanging trims, so the items won't line up the way we are looking to do.