If you're heading out to buy furniture this weekend, you may want to smarten up first by reading Smart Money's "10 Things Furniture Stores Won't Say." Some highlights:
- Don't expect your furniture to arrive on time, and don't expect the store to be responsible for any furniture damage. Despite what a store tells you, there is little ability for them to guarantee that they will receive your order from the factory and deliver it when promised. SmartMoney recommends that you inspect all furniture and refuse to accept any that is damaged. It will be much easier to resolve any disputes if the item is returned to the warehouse rather than left in your home.
- Don't pay full sticker price, especially since there will likely be a number of additional expenses (delivery, installation or assembly fees, and fees for stairs in a non-elevator building) beyond the cost of the item. Large retailers typically mark up the cost of items by as much as 80%, then discount that price as part of a promotion. The savvy buyer will further negotiate the price down, though it can take patience and sometimes even hours to accomplish. Also, keep in mind that the best deals may not be in the showroom. Ask if there are any items similar to the ones you are considering that are not currently on display.
- Financing plans offered may be detrimental to your credit score. Many retailers offer no-interest promotional lines of credit to enable you to complete your purchase. Often the line of credit is equal to your purchase, meaning that you have maxed out that credit line immediately, which is a no-no for your credit score. Also, miss one payment, and the interest rate not only spikes but is applied retroactively, for the entire term of the loan. Now you may also be over your credit limit.