Here’s Why Buying Furniture Online Is A Bad Idea

Dear Laurel,

How are you doing? Not sure why I’m writing you except just to warn someone out there about this company on the internet.

Here’s what happened. My old hag wife ran off with our son’s karate instructor. (they deserve each other) She took custody of the brat. Fine, she can have him. She also took the house, so I needed to move. I found a sublet in the east village. It’s a five-floor walk up. That’s five minutes less time at the gym and it’s only a ten minute walk to the office, door-to-door.

I needed to fix up the place, of course. I thought that buying furniture online was the way to go. So, I had my secretary scout out some hunky man-type stuff. I told her to do research for the lowest prices. She found this company called National Furniture Supply. They are offering deep discounts for some very high-end furniture online so I gave her the go ahead.


This is the sofa.




This is the  desk with storage.

And then, she picked out this rug. I like blue.


Everything else I picked up at Crate and Barrel. I should’ve gotten everything there!

I won’t bore you with what I went through for SIX months only to find out that they couldn’t get the furniture upstairs. No way. Not a chance.

Or, the fact that FREE SHIPPING set me back $1,927.45

Why? Because I had to pay warehousing fees to the tune of $75.00/day (they called while I was in Maui for two weeks with my girlfriend) Then, I didn’t realize that FREE SHIPPING meant they were going to leave two huge pieces of furniture at the curb and that ***I*** would be required to take it off of the truck. So, I opted for the “white glove” FREE SHIPPING, only to discover that I had to pay “OVERWEIGHT” fees and stair fees on top of a whopping FREE SHIPPING charge.

But then they couldn’t get the f**kin crap (excuse my french) up the stairs. They sent two midgets to bring up 550 lbs of furniture. In any case it was all too tight. 

So I had to send it all back (except for the rug which I do like) and pay for the FREE SHIPPING back to them.

But here’s the kicker. I also had to pay a RESTOCKING FEE. What the hay? 25%!! That set me back— are you ready, Laurel?


+ the free shipping charge of 1,927.45.

Yes, that’s what 25% is from the deeply “discounted” price $18,860 that I shelled out for two pieces of crap over-scale furniture. Clearly, I’m out of my mind.

Please be kind. I know I’m an idiot. I forgot that my secretary has dyslexia and mixes up high and low. But she’s blond and busty so she stays. (sorry, if that’s TMI)

Those bastards have my credit card number. They said that they don’t save the number but apparently amongst all of their other lies and misleading info, they do save it because they sure as hell fire ran the charge of $6,642.45 through. And I have nothing except for a lot of aggravation to show for it!

Naturally, I was hopping mad and disputed it with my CC company and lost. They said that it was clearly spelled in their terms and conditions. But nobody reads that shit, right?

Thanks for listening.


Ira Joe Sukerstein


Whew! That’s quite a story folks, isn’t it?

To be clear, as in all of my Dear Laurel stories, there is no actual Joe Sukerstein.

He’s an amalgam of thousands of Joes who don’t realize that the internet is a man-eating shark; he thinks it’s a cute little gold-fish. Never mind that the gold-fish is going to be dead in two days. (still traumatized some 50 years later over that tragic event.)

I was curious. Those are some hefty numbers for that stuff! Joe didn’t tell me where the furniture is from. But that’s alright. I know how to find the source of furniture online which works like a charm 99.9% of the time.

I will be teaching you exactly how I find furniture on the internet when I don’t know the vendor in a bonus chapter in Laurel’s Rolodex.  It’s coming to you on the 26th and the entire thing is wild beyond even my own imaginings!

But back to this quagmire.

I very easily found the vendor of the sofa and desk which is that furniture ho, Zentique. Below is a photo from their spot at the New York Now show last February.



and below, Zentique at their permanent showroom at Americasmart in Atlanta

zentique-americamart buying furniture online

Make no mistake, I really like Zentique– or, used to before they sold out to anyone who would have them.  I’ve bought several items for clients and myself over the years. However, their hefty price tag is ludicrous considering one of its resellers is STAPLES. High end furniture is not exactly the term I think of when I think of Staples. No?

Please Hang on. This is going to be quite a ride.

Let’s begin with our sofa.

The Alix Sofa, from Zentique. I would send you to their website but it’s trade only. God forbid someone would actually try to copy this thing.

Once I found it, I found this sofa online with many vendors.

furniture-online-zentique-alix-sofaHere’s the front (I guess)

alix-sofa-back-furniture-online-zentiqueand the back

Quite frankly, you couldn’t give me that atrocity for free. Zen has some lovely furniture, but this is one of the most God-forsaken behemothic monsters I’ve ever seen. Is that supposed to be tufting?

Let’s talk price.

I have a wholesale account with Zentique.  Sweet. It’s one of dozens of “designer friendly” resources on Laurel’s Rolodex where us lowly decorators can purchase furniture at wholesale. Therefore, I know how much Zentique is charging and I know what the retail price should be.

Here is a screenshot of NFS’s sale’s page for the Alix sofa. (I checked their terms and conditions and by violating their “copyright” I can be refused membership. Okay, I’ll take a chance.) ;]

zentique-alix-sofa-furniture-online copy

That’s a tremendous amount of fugly for 8k!

Then, I did a little searchy and this is what I found with the other vendors.


Let’s look at the low-ball price from Wayfair of $3,600.


NFS says that the list price is: $10,056.00.

Wayfair says that the list price is: $6,987.50.

Will The Real List Price Please Stand Up

We will address “FREE SHIPPING” in a sec. :]

Actually, Wayfair’s sale price is very good. A little too good. My price for this sofa would be $4,190 plus shipping/handling AND DELIVERY.

But before you get all riled up and think that everything on Wayfair is such a great deal. It’s not. However, they never do what National Furniture Suppuration is doing as far as I can tell.

Let’s move on to the next piece because this one is even more interesting.

It’s also from Zentique


The Mog Cabinet and desk.

What in fart’s name is a “mog”?


Here’s a closeup shot showing off the fine detailing of the Mog Cabinet

Bactine, anyone?

Below are the online vendors and Amazon is one as well, but I’m trying to not mog you down (sorry) :]  too much.

Amazon and Wayfair again are the low ball numbers.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 11.43.58 AMBelow is NFS sale’s page for the Mog Cabinet



for that POS thing?

Has everyone completely lost their barking brains?

Here is what NFS says on their website under their FAQs:

Do you offer the lowest prices?

Our supplier network is among the largest furniture supplier network in North America. Their buying power gets them the lowest prices from furniture manufacturers – and allows National Furniture Supply to pass the savings onto you.

That’s brown for a reason.

Yes, it’s the same exact “buying power” that little old Laurel has— a decorator who works out of her one-bedroom apartment—Alone.

Wayfair and Amazon are selling the piece for $6,213.00 which is about right.

But then… using a different search criteria, I came across this craziness.


huh? From the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous.

Two companies, English Elm and Truth in Craft have a seriously DEFLATED price of $4,579.00. This is below the non-stocking dealer’s price!

I did a little research here too.


Both of these companies are in Chicago and both have identical terms and conditions / shipping info pages.

AND – neither of them have a PHYSICAL ADDRESS.

No name. Just a phone number and an email address. What? Are they cousins, brothers, the same company? Me thinks the latter.

Please for the love of whoever you pray to, do not ever, ever, ever buy anything online if there’s no physical address. You have absolutely no legal recourse whatsoever when they screw you over. You cannot serve legal papers without a person to serve them to!

The actual list price for this piece is:


My price would be:


S/H would come to about $400 for this piece.



From NFS’s FAQs.

How will my order be delivered?

Once we get your order, we use our supplier network to ship your order. Once your order is shipped, we will provide you the tracking code so that you can track the order on a real time basis. Smaller items are shipped by Fedex Ground/UPS while bigger orders are delivered by Curbside Delivery. Some of the items qualify for white glove delivery and inhouse installation. If the item qualifies for it, its mentioned on the product page.


Did you hear me?

They said delivered by




First of all, we need to understand how things work in the furniture industry. For my friends in the biz, you can skip ahead cause you already know…

We have merch that is in a warehouse. In the case of Zentique it is in Georgia. The furniture leaves Georgia FOB – which stands for Freight On Board.

Then, it needs to go to a place with a LOADING DOCK. That is called a RECEIVER.

I know that I sound like a kindergarten teacher explaining to a group of 5-year-olds which bus to take home. But every time I see FREE SHIPPING, I wanna throw my 25 foot tape measure through a window because y’all are falling for this highly misleading farce!

The FREE SHIPPING, refers to the furniture leaving FOB TO the receiver and that gets absorbed by their very large markup or in some cases absurdly large markup.

But then, the receiver has to make the local DELIVERY.


It is very expensive.

This is what they commonly call “white glove delivery.” I have never seen any white gloves. I’m just happy if they show up when they say they will! (Mr. Ricca’s guys are amazing! You can hear him on voice mail)

If it’s a small piece, it will most likely go out UPS or FedEx and yes, there will be no additional charge, but for large pieces it must go to the receiver unless you want to get a 400 lb cabinet off the 16 wheeler by yourself and haul it up 5 flights of stairs.

Below is from our other internet darling English From Chicago Elm and Truth?In?Craft? who are undercutting everyone. BTW, that is exceedingly unethical.  Believe me when I tell you that they will get you some other way.

Free Delivery – Freight Delivery

  • Delivery appointment is typically 7 to 10 business days after tracking is sent.
  • The freight carrier will call in advance to schedule a delivery appointment, generally within a 4-hour window
  • Free freight delivery requires the customer to move the items into their residence/business
  • Products that ship this method are usually large and may require assistance (driver is not obligated to assist)
  • Hydraulic assistance (known as a liftgate) is not provided to lower items to the ground
  • Additional costs resulting from COI (Certificate of Insurance), remote location, truck size restrictions, etc. will be the responsibility of the customer

Scary stuff, ain’t it? This is why I have no idea why people don’t use someone like me who will charge them a lot less, understand the ropes and save them not only precious time, but money and aggravation.

I checked out the rug too. This is a quote for the 9 x 12. Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.18.05 PM copy

Actually, surprisingly this price is pretty good, but notice that the price in the box is lower than the sale price! I did put it in the cart and yes, the price came up to be the one in red.


Finally, I checked social media for the three companies hi-lighted here. Truth in Craft only has sharing but no social media presence. English Elm has a facebook page but they turned it off. Their twitter account is still active, however.



And our Royal Ripoff National Furniture Supply does have a facebook page.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 1.20.40 PM

One person has been here.

I guess that was me. lol

heres why buying furniture online is a bad idea

Well… back to work.

Happy Sunday. Happy Autumn. This has been possibly the most outstanding September here in New York that I can recall!



PS: One year later, there is an update to this story about the rip-off furniture vendor.



44 Responses

  1. I am very intrigued by this, and have had my suspicions, but let’s talk logistics (if we may).
    Our family needs some new furniture and we are past our younger, you buy whatever the heck you can afford, years and are ready for some quality furniture that is going to last for years and can handle growing and rambunctious children.
    However, we have 5 of those lovely children don’t have the time to go around to every overpriced furniture store and check things out in person, neither are we rich. (Though we can afford good quality)
    Sooooo, are there any online companies or brands that are reliable and trustworthy or do we hire a designer just to buy furniture for us??? Right now we are mainly in the market for a sofa and bed frame.

    1. Hi Melody,

      There are many reliable brands and online companies and I have them sprinkled throughout my rolodex – for sale. Please look on the sidebar for a link to the sales page. Or yes, hiring a designer is a great way to get quality furniture and help with the things you never knew you never knew. :] And there are a lot of them.

      1. Well….I may just have to do that! To be honest, I read all of your posts (which are fabulous by the way) and have obviously seen you mention the Rolodex, but didn’t pay much mind and wasn’t sure if it applied to me, so I would just skim over that info. : / Sorry, bad reader.
        Now that I actually gave it the time of day, it makes certain sense and I am sure we would easily save that $150 right back.
        Laurel to the rescue–again! Thanks a bunch

  2. WOW! I’ve been fighting this left and right with clients, they just don’t get it! This is so creatively written, and if you don’t mind I would like to share it on my BLOG with of coarse credit to you, my new new best friend.

    Thank You – Thank You – thank You

    1. Hi Susan,

      Yes! That’s why I wrote it. Please share away! Now, this is just because of Googs. He doesn’t like duplicate content, so it’s fine to quote a portion of it and then link back to the rest. Or just write your own post and link back. (Maybe that’s what you meant anyway) Something like that. Much appreciated!

  3. Laurel I LOVE this! I’ve tried explaining to clients why it is in their best interest to allow me to purchase for them and have listed the headaches of dealing with these kind of companies as the most important factor, but your post really illustrates it better than I’ve ever been able to explain. I will be bookmarking this to share with those folks who have questions moving forward. Thanks for the transparency and time it must’ve taken to put this together!

    1. Hi Karissa, Thank you so much and thanks for stopping by! It’s funny, but I was in the thick of putting together “Laurel’s Rolodex.” Maybe you saw it. It just came out. I really wanted to keep up my blogging schedule at the same time, but some of my posts take as long as 15 hour to produce. This one went pretty quickly though. Maybe only about 7 or 8 hours. haha! And the research had me cackling to myself for hours!

      I don’t understand the concept of letting clients take over any part of the job if we have any responsibility at all. If they take over with the idea that they’ll save money, that’s an erroneous belief. I include it as part of my service and don’t charge extra for it either. But letting a client take over is a recipe for disaster, IMO. What happens when it all goes wrong and then they come crying on our doorstep to “fix it? ” It’s not an if, it’s a when.

      1. I totally agree – I don’t want to work with people who want to take over because it actually ends up being a huge mess, and they aren’t happy with the result. And when they aren’t happy, it’s back on us as designers, and as much as we want to say “I told you so!” well, that’s just not very mannerly. I don’t charge time for purchasing either, I think it’s the most fair way to handle it and I don’t want to give them any reasons not to purchase through me!

        Also, just purchased the Rolodex last night – I’ve hardly made a dent so far, but I’m excited to dig in!

  4. You’re funny! I’m sick in bed with end of summeritis (aka hay fever) and your blog has me laughing and sneezing at the same time. As for me and mine, we no longer purchase furniture either from stores or online. Most of the stuff I see these days is mass produced in another country and not made to last. I absolutely loathe loathe loathe that cardboard backing on most of the stuff you see, even at high end retailers. I prefer to pick up vintage American made pieces from thrift stores and redo them myself. I get what I pay for, it’s solid American wood and made to last. It’s ironic because I now work at a high end retailer. Nearly every day someone returns a piece furniture after a couple of months because the joints have loosened or the piece has simply broken. My husband has learned to put up with unmatched furniture until I get around to painting. In the meantime, I taking more drugs and going back to sleep!

    1. Hey Valarie,

      So sorry you’re under the weather but glad you stopped by! Hope your hay fever passes quickly. I get the spring allergy thing usually. And it’s my fave season!

  5. So glad I discovered your blog, Laurel! I practiced design for 20+ years (had my own shop for 10) before remarrying and becoming a “corporate trailing spouse.” After a massive renovation on my own 115 year old St. Louis Renaissance Revival mansion (everyone needs a ballroom…), neighbors approached me for help and I emerged from “retirement.” They were smack dab in a state of emergency. The electrician was due the next morning to start wiring for the master bathroom. Oh yeah, they had been to Home Depot for a free plan…you get what you pay for. I measured, etc. and drew it up…and scheduled a meeting to discuss the scope of services, their budget, vision, yadayadyada…we sat at the dining room table with a Coleman lantern and his laptop. Like a seance but, you see, every inch of the house was torn up. The man sat there and looked up every single item that I mentioned to see if it was on Overstock…he beamed as he told me about the tub he had ordered…had no idea the brand, etc. I realized that this was not the sort of client I wanted and thanked them before heading back across the street. I happened to be home when I saw the delivery truck pull up a few snowy, icy days later. On a Friday afternoon. Like Gladys Kravitz, I observed from my living room window. My two Jack Russell’s bounced and barked as the folks struggled. Finally, the tub was left at the bottom of the driveway over a weekend before it was towed to the garage. A few months passed. I was lucky to be working in the front yard when the crane arrived to hoist that tub up through a window that had to enlarged, etc. and spilled wine on myself when the operator accidentally hit the brick wall with the tub…karma is good! You can’t make up some of the goofy stuff that designers experience…

  6. I had a recent experience in that I was providing a custom design for a friend and needed something to hold electronics equipment in a 48 x 24″ space below a TV mount. I search my outlets and allowed my friends to search on their end. I am meticulous in my designs and wanted something special, even if it had to be built or special ordered. My friend came up with a piece listed as an AV cabinet. I had to modify the wall’s 48″ width dimension a bit for it to look custom. Finished the wall work. It arrived. It was broken in shipping. My friends wound up getting it for free because no others were in stock and so I explained to them how to fix the broken problem. When time came to install the system and TV, It came to light that the AV cabinet purchased was not deep enough for the equipment. Even though I have a policy of No Materials from outside the project…… I once again learned my lesson.

    1. Hi Robert. I’m so sorry about that. Hate it when things don’t go as planned. I once had a custom wrap around desk that came completely broken down and with no instructions AND some critical pieces missing like the toe kicks! Fortunately, I had a terrific guy who put it all together for me and didn’t charge too much.

  7. I know a thing or two about curbside delivery. I ordered a couple of tons of marble for my new fabulous bathroom, and the company shipped it by crate UPS – curbside delivery. UPS rang my bell and told me to come and get it. He had left it in the snow around the block on the corner. I asked him why he didn’t put it at the end of my own driveway, and he said I didn’t have a proper curb! He wouldn’t budge, so I had to drive down there and unpack box by box. In. The. Snow.

    Oddly enough, UPS delivers everything else I have ordered right to my door.

    When it came time to tile my kitchen, I ordered from a local tile store. Lesson learned.

  8. HA! You had me LOL more than once with this read! I’m so glad you wrote it as this has been an area of frustration for a small town designer in rural Indiana. I hope everyone reads it! Thanks!

  9. Laurel, Your great wisdom mixed with spot on comedy is perfect. Too bad for schumck Joe blow, too stupid to shop for himself that’s what you get! (Not for nothing), I get why his wife left…thanks for sharing and I’m waiting for the 26th.
    Designer (in the trenches since 1999)….btw, please check the spelling of interior, I’ve got your back!

  10. Super informational article. I always wondered what “white glove treatment” meant! Oh! the pitfalls of shopping online!! So far I have only stuck with the small stuff and even then things sometimes arrive broken or not as promised.
    Joss and Main have super service people when a wrong needs to be righted.

  11. You always make me laugh and teach us important things. I too learned the hard way, even dealing with the wholesaler directly in the showroom.

    I personally hate OKL after I had a bad experience with them. Fortunately it did not involve a large expensive piece of furniture, but the merchandise was not as advertised, which they vehemently denied. I finally sent it back after I demanded and received a return label. However, they would not refund my money, only gave me a “stop credit”. Never again.

    1. ugh. Sorry for that experience, Ellen. Quite frankly, I have no idea why anyone would want to start a business like that. So much aggravation! Not that you aren’t justified. I’m sure that you are. I’ve gotten several things there and well… they look better than they are, but a few things are very nice. I believe that they are taking returns now.

  12. Dear Laurel,
    I adore you, and I’m a former fussy New Yorker so that says something. My husband and I are downsizing because our children are finally off to college and I no longer want to care for a behemoth house and yard. In the process,the scale of our new home is totally different than the one we’ve been in for 15 years. As I’ve been scouting for furniture the stuff online has been very appealing. Too appealing. I actually lose sleep over thinking I am paying too much for the things I’ve found. I’m also very tempted by the furniture in the big box stores — Arhaus, RH, PB etc. But after some searches I discover a load of complaints over their quality. I ended up with a couch from Kravet with a decorator, and I’m paying twice what I would have paid at Arhaus. But I am hoping that it will last us another 15 years in our new home. Your blog has made me feel better about the decisions I’ve made. Keep it up. At the very least you make me laugh about a very stressful process of moving.

  13. As usual the first laugh of the day!
    Like the others, can’t say I feel sorry for Joe. He’s a triple threat – a stupid (who doesn’t measure?) jerk, with bad taste.
    If he was any kind of New Yorker, he wouldn’t let stairs stop him. He’d hire a crane, take the windows out of his apartment and have the furniture craned it. Come on, everyone knows that.
    Great read on buying furniture on line. I buy a lot of stuff on the internet, but I can’t imagine buying a big, expensive piece without laying hands on it and/or sitting on it. With no way reasonable way to return it.
    Thanks for another great read. Looking forward to your Rolodex! Mel

    1. Hi Mel, Yes, Joe is all of those things,lol. It’s a big city. It’s full of clueless narcissistic dolts like Joe and it’s full of people with moxy too! All types.

      Actually, Joe could’ve contacted a company that will take the furniture apart and assemble it in the apartment. It wouldn’t have set him back more than about a thousand bucks. Far less than his restocking fees.

      That company probably makes more money on furniture that’s returned than on furniture sold! They even have it that IF the furniture is already on the truck and hasn’t left it’s start point and you call to cancel the order, you’ll still have to pay the restocking fee! Outrageous scam!

      I’m with you.It’s an insane amount to spend on that type of furniture. It’s all made in the far East. It’s not great quality and yes, it’s ugly. Mind boggling, it is!

  14. This is a great read, a real heads up about online prices. Thank you! Though I confess I got really hung up on what an awful guy this is! Saying that about his son? Awful. Like Lee said, I am not sorry he got screwed over. Sounds like karma had some payback for him!

    1. Hi Meg,

      And let’s not forget the secretary! Yes, he’s not a very sympathetic character. Alas… this type of individual runs rampant in these parts! And it’s not just guys.

  15. JUST tonight, I sent an email to One Kings Lane asking how on earth I can unpack my new rug and preserve the packaging just in case it needs to go back. Laurel, the plastic wrap they used originates INSIDE the rolled up rug so I can’t shimmy the top off. Yay me.

    1. Oh dear… but in my experience are good about stuff. I once got a teapot which looked just like my old one from William Sonoma. I knew I was in trouble when I nearly broke my hand trying to get the lid off. I put it in the dishwasher–once and the finish started disintegrating.

      I called up and the woman told me to dump it!

    2. Laurel, I have a fantastic update to share about my email to One King’s Lane. They replied to the email I sent last night at 11pm before I even woke up (early) this morning – on a Sunday, no less! That astonishes me. And, their response was all that could be hoped for. The representative apologized for causing any concern and said that of course, I should do whatever is necessary to take off the wrapping to see the rug. He said they would understand if it needed to come back in a different wrapper and even gave me suggestions of what to use and how in case I did decide to return it. MAJOR points, One Kings Lane!

  16. Good and useful info but I have to say that Joe sounds like a real jerk. His attitude toward his kid. And other things he said. Just saying: not so sad he got screwed.

      1. I think that paying exorbitant shipping was well deserved. The adage You can’t grt something for nothing comes to mind. If he had used your expertise, he probably would not have ended up with something so awful either! I consider my piece of mind essential and your skill is what I want to go with my choices! He just can’t be real! Lol

        1. Yeah… he’s a made up dude except seriously, I’ve known a lot of people exactly like this! You just want to slap them across the room. lol

          In this case, I found the sofa first and I thought, who on earth would actually be so dumb and clueless to buy this thing?

          It was quite cathartic to write. :]

        2. That’s funny. As I was reading, I thought Joe seemed a little over the top.
          Thanks for writing this blog. As a design student, I find the real world experience helpful and entertaining.

        3. Hi Susan,

          Well, the truth is stranger, you know! Believe me, I’ve had some characters to deal with. And I don’t know where you are but here in NY, there are some real pieces of work! Good luck with your studies!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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