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What You Need to Know Before Buying Furniture on Wayfair

I furnished my kids' bedrooms with Wayfair furniture, and it wasn't a bad experience. Here's what I learned.

What are the pros and cons of shopping on  Wayfair?

What are the pros and cons of shopping on Wayfair?

The Truth About Wayfair

Two years ago, we moved to an area with better schools, which meant smaller bedrooms for the kids. For months, I was unsure about what to do with their cluttered rooms. Because the rooms were small, I decided that under-the-bed storage was a good solution. If the kids could store all of their clothing in drawers underneath their beds, there was no need for a dresser taking up space in their room. I visited multiple furniture stores and either didn't find what I wanted...or what I did find gave me sticker shock.

I had heard about Wayfair, the online furniture store, but had been reluctant to go that route. Finally, unable to find what I wanted at a price I could afford, I decided to give them a try. Here's what I discovered.

Is Wayfair Legit?

If you somehow haven't heard of Wayfair, you might wonder if it's a legitimate company or just some online scam, but don't worry: Wayfair is legit! By that I mean that it's a well-known and respected company where you can buy things with reasonable assurance... although there may be mistakes, damage, or delays, you will eventually get what you paid for.

Benefits of Using Wayfair

The great thing about Wayfair is that you'll find more furniture options and a wider range of prices than you'll find in most furniture stores. That's a big positive: You are more likely to find what you need at prices you can afford. Comparison shopping online can be much easier than driving from store to store. Shipping is usually free, and all items will be delivered to your door.

What I bought at Wayfair and how much I paid:

  • I searched "beds with storage" and found multiple options, many that came in more than one color. I settled on two "Allenville Storage Platform Beds" in espresso and walnut. I bought a queen and full size bed for $835, including taxes. Shipping was free. I also got one year financing.
  • Instead of a bedside table, I bought a tall 11.6" by 11.6" shelving units to put by the beds. Each shelf cost $26.
  • I also bought new desks and chairs. Those came out to $300.
  • For about $2500, we were able to provide both kids with new furniture, and now their rooms look tidy and spacious.

The Pros and Cons of Buying on Wayfair

ProCon

Vast inventory of design options, colors, and materials.

You won't know if the item is comfortable or good quality until it arrives.

The website makes ordering quick and easy.

Shipping is often quick, but it still takes time.

Replacement parts or missing items will be shipped for free.

You must report problems within 30 days of delivery.

Online, it's easier to shop around for a better price.

Assembly is required for most items.

Free shipping for most items.

You'll have to pay to return anything you don't like.

Delivered to your door.

Don't forget to factor in the negative environmental impact of the gas and packaging.

The Problems With Wayfair

If I had to summarize the problems of using Wayfair, I'd say this:

  • It's difficult to make an informed decision before you buy something online. Since you can't touch that sheet or sit on that sofa, you don't really know if you're going to like it once it arrives.
  • As a result, you'll need to be prepared for the added effort and cost of returning items, and in order to do this successfully, to follow the strict rules and deadlines.
  • You'll have to wait longer to enjoy your purchase, since delivery takes time.
  • Most items will require assembly. You'll need tools, time, patience, and a little knowhow to put it all together.
  • Sometimes, items go missing or get damaged in the mail, and fixing these problems requires extra time and effort.
  • It's great to have things delivered, but all that wasteful plastic and cardboard they use in the packaging is bad for the environment and difficult to get rid of.

In other words, all the possible problems of shopping on Wayfair apply to shopping anywhere online.

Wayfair Assembly

Obviously if you buy online, your furniture will come in multiple pieces which have to be put together by you. (Although Wayfair does offer assembly as well, powered by handy.com, and the cost varies by item.) But if you do decide to put everything together yourself, here is what to expect.

  • Each bed we bought came in five heavy boxes. Two beds meant a total of ten boxes.
  • UPS delivered the ten boxes over about five days, so we had giant boxes stored inside our doorway and in our downstairs office as we waited for all the pieces to show up.
  • Because the boxes were heavy, I opened them downstairs and made multiple trips upstairs with various parts of whatever I was building.
  • The instructions largely consist of pictures showing how each piece goes together.
  • When I built our full bed, I started first with the headboard. Before putting anything together, I verified that I had all the required hardware. I then studied the assembly instructions and connected each part on paper to each item I had laid out on the floor. Once I was confident I understood the instructions I put everything together. It was surprisingly easy. Each bed took about two hours to assemble.

Are instructions for assembly included?

The furniture for the most part doesn't come with written (text) instructions, but they do provide easy-to-decipher visual instructions for assembly.

Is assembly hardware included?

Yes, they should send everything you'll need to assemble your furniture. If they forgot, just file a report within 30 days of delivery and they'll send those parts or hardware for free. Each box actually came with spares, and lack of hardware was never an issue.

Is assembly difficult?

When I was putting together the beds, everything was problem-free until I got to the storage drawers for the queen bed. The front of the first drawer was defective with misaligned parts, so I couldn't use it. The second drawer would not align to screw the pieces together for reasons I could never figure out. After carefully studying the problem for about ten minutes, I decided to try a workaround, which fortunately did work. So I was able to get one drawer built.

I still had a defective drawer front to deal with. Because I was assembling the drawer in the evening, it was too late to call, so I tried to request a replacement online. I filled in the form and hit submit, which returned me to the login screen. I don't know why the request didn't go through, but I decided I would just call the following morning.

What if parts are damaged or defective?

Two out of the eight items I ordered were either damaged or defective. And for both, it took several days to get replacements. When considering Wayfair, take into account how much time you need for shipping of the original item and add a couple of weeks to that in the event you need a replacement part.

Is it easy to order replacement parts?

When I called, an automated message informed me that they were experiencing high call volume, so I expected a long wait. But I immediately got through to someone who was very helpful. I told her what part I needed and she told me they would send it out. However, I called on a Friday. She told me the piece would likely ship on Tuesday. which it did. But I didn't receive it until the following Monday. So I had to wait 11 days to receive the replacement piece. However, I didn't have to ship back the defective piece.

Thankfully, I wasn't in any hurry to put the drawer together. I had one drawer and I had put the kid's old dressers into their closets to use as storage for things they don't use often. So my older child was able to use her dresser, even though it was awkward to access, until I was able to get the second drawer assembled.

How long did shipping and assembly take?

Since the items arrived in so many boxes, assembly took quite awhile, especially since I had to wait 11 days to receive the replacement piece. If you're buying furniture that you need to put together in a hurry, like if you're building a bed for a guest, you may not be able to get it assembled in time if something does go wrong.

Wayfair furniture often comes in large boxes that need to be disposed of.

Wayfair furniture often comes in large boxes that need to be disposed of.

Tip: There Will Be a Lot of Packaging to Get Rid of

Your furniture will come in lots of large boxes, so you'll have lots of cardboard to dispose of. It took me weeks to get rid of all the cardboard. I cut up enough each week to fill the recycling bin and leave enough space for other recyclables. Your trash disposal company may offer a bulk pickup of all the boxes if you call them and arrange it in advance.

How to Buy Furniture Online (and Avoid Mistakes and Returns)

The biggest trick to buying online is to get exactly what you want so you don't have to return it. Here are ways to avoid mistakes:

  • Carefully study all of the photos. Manufacturers usually include several photos taken from different angles. Make sure you look at every one so you can "see" what it will really look like before it arrives.
  • Read the descriptions very carefully. Manufacturers include important adjectives and details in those descriptions, so don't skim them over. Consider durability, construction, and cleaning instructions. Follow and study all tabs and links to specifications and/or diagrams.
  • Measure over and over again. It's hard to imagine how a piece of furniture is going to fill a space, and you will definitely need a tape measure for this. Consider using tape to recreate the exact dimensions of the item you're considering. And don't forget to consider how you'll get a bulkier piece into your home from the street, up stairs, around corners, and into that specific room!
  • Read the "Questions & Answers" and "Reviews." This is where you'll find additional information from real people like you.
  • Pre-order a swatch of fabric if you can. Before you commit to buying, see if you can get a free swatch of the fabric to make sure the color, pattern, texture, quality, and durability of the fabric is right for you.
  • Use Wayfair's 3D room planner. Their tools allow you to "create your own room" or choose from one of their templates for bedroom, living room, or dining room.
  • Consider using Wayfair's design services. If you really need help, there are three design packages to consider: a consultation (the cheapest), "lite" services, and "classic," which offers extra design assistance for those who need it.
  • Understand the return policy before you buy. You really don't want to pay to return an item, so be fully aware of the policy before you make any purchase.

What Is Wayfair's Return Policy?

It's a bit of a gamble buying a sofa you've never sat on or a bed you haven't tested. However, if you don't like your purchase for any reason, you can return most items for a refund or store credit within 30 days of delivery. Still, you have to pay the return shipping costs and the item must be in its original, unassembled condition and package. However, clearance, "non-returnable," and personalized items can't be returned, and you can't return items that you've already assembled.

However, if your reason for wanting to return the item is because it was damaged, defective, or completely different from the item you ordered, Wayfair will accept the return and may pay for return shipping. Here's a full description of Wayfair's return policy.

Does Wayfair Sell Quality Products?

Wayfair doesn't manufacture anything itself, they just host listings from various suppliers. Since the quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and since Wayfair hosts so many different suppliers, the quality of their items will vary accordingly. You'll find a wide range of quality, from Ikea-like stuff to high end pieces.

The furniture I bought looks nice and is sturdy and has remained in excellent shape for over a year. I expect my kids will live at home until they graduate from college. That's twelve years from now for my youngest. Hopefully, the furniture will last that long.

Why Is Wayfair So Cheap?

Because they're selling online and therefore don't have to pay for salespeople or rent or real estate in the more expensive and well-trafficked areas, suppliers can save money on overhead. As a result, they can pass that savings on to you. That's why you'll often find the most competitive prices on Wayfair.

Does cheap mean cheap, though? You get what you pay for, right? That's usually true, but you can find some decent-quality furniture for a decent price on Wayfair. It won't be heirloom-quality furniture, but for the most part, the furniture will be sturdy enough to survive at least a few years of use.

What Is Wayfair, Exactly?

Wayfair is a site that hosts listings from many different suppliers. Wayfair doesn't design, manufacture, store, or ship anything itself: instead, like Amazon, it's a "middle man" between the seller and the buyer. When you make a purchase on their site, they purchase that item from the supplier, who then ships it to you (aka "drop shipping"). Wayfair charges those suppliers to sell on their site.

And it's a huge company—the largest online-only retailer in the US. They currently run five big-name retail websites: Wayfair.com, Joss & Main, AllModern, Perigold, and Birch Lane.

How Was Your Experience Buying on Wayfair?

Comments

Zoestrathmore on January 24, 2020:

I totally agree with the author. I purchased a Serta couch from Wayfair last winter. It that came in a very large & heavy box. The Fed Ex delivery guy refused to bring it up to my door (5 steps) and told me that "it wasn't his problem" and left. I have MS, even if I didn't there was no way I could get it up my stairs. It sat in front of my house for an entire day. I called Wayfair immediately, they said they'd contact FedEx and took $50 off the order. Never heard back from them

I went to work the next day & was talking about this with my coworkers. Fortunately. one of them offered to have her husband & son move it for me. Unfortunately by the time they came to my house it was raining and the huge cardboard box was soaked. It was very difficult for them to move & having a soaking cardboard box on my hardwood floors was less than optimal.

I thought I'd give them another chance this year (needed to replace an old bookcase that broke). I ordered two ladder bookcases) and a console to put on each side

These were delivered turned on Monday. The boxes said they were manufactured by Closet Maid. That was not mentioned on their website. The bookshelves were MDF & covered with cheap wood looking shelves that was only on the top side of the shelf, the underside was unpainted MDF. Because I really need them, I'll keep them but they're going in my guest room. I'm going to buy some paint to cover the undersides of the sheves.

The console table was half the size I need (definitely pay attention to dimensions). I called them, they're going to accept the return (but are deducting $20 to do so). They're sending me a FedEx return label; told me to drop it off at nearest FedEx store. Again it's at least 35 lbs

& even if I could carry it down my stairs, I have a Honda Fit and unsure I could get in it into the car to return it.

I'll not be ordering from them again. I've learned my lesson. I have an Ikea, Pottery Barn, Home Goods & in my city I'll be shopping those stores going forward. I recently found

a couple of nice Better Homes and Gardens bookcases that looked similar to some I saw at Restoration Hardware and they were at Walmart(!). They looked great and were very sturdy. If I don't find anything else I'll order from them. They deliver!

Wayfair looks nice on the website, but I've never been pleased with their products once I get them home

suzzyQ on January 08, 2020:

Everything I have ordered from wayfair has been incredibly cheap, and if I had went into a store I would of been able to tell how cheaply it was made. I think I am done w wayfair

Deborah Marcengill on July 17, 2019:

I had a new home built. I have purchased so much from Wayfair from lighting to curtains. They offer high end products that are well constructed and look nice. They are my first choice when shopping. I love Wayfair!

Lisa on July 13, 2019:

Love Wayfair! Ordered a coffee table

Sturdy good quality extremely happy. Then ordered dining room set and had same result sturdy great quality. Both items my husband put together nothing power tools can’t handle. I will say to be careful of color selection. It does seem to be a little off on some pictures. But other than that excellent all the way around!!

Michelle-Paulette on June 27, 2019:

“Wayfair gives bigots just what they need” . They sell furniture to concentration camps that lock up children and separate them from parents. Shame on you Wayfare! You are not what I or any of us need!

Kimberly Muniz on June 05, 2019:

I absolutely love Wayfair! Free shipping and you receive your order in several days. Customer service is outstanding as well! I have spent thousands of dollars over the years and I am more than satisfied with everything from how fast they send it out to customer service! My favorite on line shopping by far!!!

Trish on May 31, 2019:

I recently ordered a chair and they sent the wrong color. Customer service was great. They are sending out a replacement and will either pick up the other chair or just let us keep it.

Julie Rudd on May 25, 2019:

Bought draperies and when I got them I hated the color is I called to see what I do for a return. He sent me my return label by email and no charge for the return. Printed it , packaged it and took it to FedEx. He said I would get my refund in 3 to 4 days . They would issue it when fedex scanned my pkg. When the did scan it I had my refund in my account the next day. Great job Wayfair

Learn Things Web (author) from California on May 24, 2019:

Judy,

It might have been better to ask for a replacement. It's possible the wrong item was sent to you. Wayfair was very helpful when I received defective items.

One big downside of Wayfair is the cost of returns. Since they are huge items, if you aren't happy with a product it's going to be costly to return it. Before anyone makes a purchase, they should check out the return policy: https://www.wayfair.com/help/article/return_policy

Learn Things Web (author) from California on May 24, 2019:

Lime Justice,

I didn't use their assembly service so I can't comment on it directly. Since these are local companies quality likely varies a lot depending on where you live. Try contacting Wayfair and see if they can help.

Judy on May 22, 2019:

Bought rug from wayfair , the color wasn't as xhown and it was too big. Sent for return instructions and gound out I was being c harged a lg, shipping fee. I'm senior on fixed income and do not have money to waste. I will not be buying from them again. Had already bout several lg. Items from them with out problems.

Lime Justice on May 21, 2019:

I just bought a desk and paid for the “Handy” assembly. They have canceled twice and I’m feeling uncomfortable about the 7:30 pm appt. they rescheduled?

Vicki on April 24, 2019:

I have had nothing but good luck with all my purchase. The have been delivered on time,no damage or missing parts. The quality is good and the look great.

Juanita on February 03, 2019:

I don't know I have bought a lot in Wayfair and always have had good customer service since I don't know how to assemble I just pay for them to assemble and they take all the garbage and everything with them so it doesn't fall on me so thank you Wayfair you've been great

Christine H.. on January 24, 2019:

This article makes me real concern because I just ordered a recliner chair from Wayfair. This is my first time doing this. My recliner is suppose to be delivered tomorrow Friday. After reading all of the comments now I am worried.

Nana Price on October 20, 2018:

They send you coupons that they will not let you use. Absolutely no customer service help. Will never deal with people like this. Plenty of companies out there that care about their customers.

Karen Star on October 11, 2018:

I was horrified after I bought from Wayfair. They sold my email address and now I am bombarded with scam emails (some rather dangerous). When you click on where the email originated it shows service@wayfair. I have complained to Wayfair about this but getting no help.

RTalloni on September 15, 2017:

Interesting to read of your experience. Careful online shopping can result in tremendous savings but it takes an eye for what is quality. Even then one can't always know they will get what they expect. Shopping with trusted companies that have a record of good customer service is the only way to go.