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Tips for avoiding hassles when buying furniture

Monday - 12/12/2011, 12:50pm  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- If you spend big bucks on furniture, you likely don't want it falling apart in six months. And you don't want trouble getting a refund or getting it replaced if there are issues early on.

Washington Consumers' Checkbook has recommendations that cover those issues.

Tips for telling whether furniture is well made include lifting it at one corner. It shouldn't sag or creak. Look underneath furniture to see that corners of the frame are reinforced with blocks that are glued as well as screwed in. If there are cushions, they should be reversible so you can flip them over.

When shopping around for the best price, realize different furniture stores often sell the same items under different names.

You can get around that by calling the furniture manufacturer directly. Have the make, model and style numbers of a furniture item and its fabric the manufacturer at the ready. Then can call the stores for comparison pricing.

Don't be afraid to play detective. Get what you need from a retailer in order to provide the manufacturer with the information it needs to help you. Retail stores may try to hide the manufacturer's make, model and style numbers for specific furniture by listing code numbers on sales tags that pertain only to that store.

Checkbook Magazine says you might find manufacturer tags under seat cushions on upholstered furniture. On other items such as desks and dressers, the manufacturer's information often is inside drawers.

Headaches related to furniture deliveries are common.

Checkbook finds delivery delays are mentioned in 32 percent of complaints. People receiving incorrect or damaged products is mentioned in 28 percent of complaints.

The second paragraph of the sales agreement covers delivery concerns. Checkbook recommends you have a retail manager or sales person sign that paragraph.

Most furniture retailers will not include a written warranty on your sales receipt. If it's not there, have the furniture store add one.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)