Carolina Furniture Works ships broken dresser as new

By | October 9, 2011

Executive summary: Carolina Furniture Works ships damaged furniture as new and apparently thinks this is not something they need to apologize for. In addition to shipping damaged furniture, their workmanship is poor. Their claim that their furniture is “rigidly inspected” before shipment is a joke. If you care about the new furniture you buy looking new and having a modicum of quality, don’t buy anything made by Carolina.

Here’s the whole story…

My wife and I recently ordered a Carolina Cottage Double Dresser, manufactured by Carolina Furniture Works, from Linens ‘n Things.

Carolina claims on their Web site that their furniture is “rigidly inspected” and they’ve been “manufacturing quality furniture since 1946″ (emphasis added). Their Web site also says, “The company is known for producing fine bedroom products,” and that they have “a dedication to a family of satisfied customers.”

Our dresser was shipped directly from Carolina to our house. When it arrived, it was visibly, obviously damaged. There were numerous dents and chips:

Back right corner dent

Dent in back right corner

Dent in back left corner

Dent in side of dresser top

Chip in drawer top

Paint scrape on top

Aside from the actual damage mentioned above, the workmanship was rather poor:

Top left drawer tilts right and exposes gap

Top right drawer tilts left and exposes gap

Gap in joinery

Bigger gap in joinery

Even bigger gap in joinery

But the real icing on the cake was the condition of the dresser back:

Not only was the back hanging off for more than half the width of the dresser, but there were several areas of splintered wood where someone at the factory clearly aimed badly when stapling. Note that I didn’t pry the back to take this picture; it was already hanging off like this, and I just bent it back a little bit to get the photo.

Note, also, that the box that the dresser came in was almost completely intact when it arrived at our house:

Boxed dresser before unpacking

Furthermore, the dresser was packed very securely in the box. It is therefore exceedingly unlikely that any of the damage shown above happened in transit; rather, it seems clear that the dresser left the factory like this.

Do you think the dresser was “rigidly inspected” before it left the factory, and Carolina thinks it’s OK to ship obviously damaged furniture, or do you think “rigidly inspected” is a load of hooey?

I emailed Linens ‘n Things immediately after inspecting the dresser, including these photos, and asked what they were going to do about the problem. However, I thought it was so outrageous that Carolina shipped a dresser like this that I decided to contact them as well.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. There’s no phone number on their web site, no fax number, and no email address. There is only a contact form which allows only 100 characters of text, doesn’t allow any attachments, and doesn’t offer feedback about products as one of the contact categories. It’s almost like Carolina doesn’t want to hear from the people who buy its furniture.

However, I am a stubborn man, and after digging around quite a bit on the web, I managed to find their fax number, which is +1-803-775-0251 (for those of you who have stumbled upon this blog entry because of your own problems with Carolina’s products and would like to let them know how you feel).

I took a copy of the email I’d sent to Linens ‘n Things and faxed a copy of it to Carolina. Almost before the fax was finished transmitting, I got a call back from a man at Carolina. He was arrogant, snotty, and unhelpful.

He said he wouldn’t talk to me about my problem; I had to go through the dealer from whom I bought the dresser.

He admitted to having looked at my fax (although he couldn’t have looked at it for very long) but refused to comment on whether the damage in the photos was typical or acceptable.

He said, “Some people like our furniture and some people don’t.” As if it’s a matter of personal taste whether the furniture was shipped with extensive damage! As if there’s anybody in the world who likes paying hundreds of dollars for a “rigidly inspected,” “quality” piece of furniture, only to find it extensively damaged upon arrival! Please, don’t be absurd. Nobody “likes” being sold damaged goods.

I am still in discussion with Linens ‘n Things about what is going to happen with the dresser. They offered to send a replacement at no cost to us, but given that the damage happened at the factory and the man at the factory with whom I spoke showed no inclination to make sure it wouldn’t happen a second time, the replacement could be as bad as or even worse than the original. When I mentioned that to them, they said they could send a second replacement if the first was also damaged, but how many days of work can I miss to stay home accepting deliveries of damaged dressers?

My wife and I were willing to attempt one replacement, as long as we could keep the original dresser until the replacement arrived, and then inspect the replacement and keep whichever dresser is less damaged. But Linens ‘n Things said they couldn’t do that — the original needed to be picked up before a replacement could be sent — and the possibility of ending up with a dresser even more damaged than the first one is not a gamble we’re willing to take.

If it were my choice alone, I would have told Linens ‘n Things to come take back their dresser and give us a refund. However, the dresser is my daughter’s, and although she’s unhappy with its condition, she would rather keep it than continue to do without a dresser while looking for an affordable one to replace it. So in the end, Linens ‘n Things and Carolina Furniture Works have made a profit selling us damaged furniture.

When I informed Linens ‘n Things that we were going to keep the dresser despite the damage and gave them a piece of my mind about it, they said they’d try to get a discount from Carolina to pass on to us. We’ll see how well that plays out; I don’t honestly expect anything to come of it. [UPDATE: I was wrong; see below.]

UPDATE: On October 11, Linens ‘n Things issued me a $99 partial refund, which is 25% of the total cost (including shipping) we paid for the dresser. That’s a very fair amount given how damaged the dresser was upon arrival. I want to give Linens ‘n Things credit here for trying to do the right thing. I think they did the best they could with a bad situation, a situation for which I primarily blame Carolina Furniture Works. I don’t know whether the refund was paid for by Carolina or Linens ‘n Things.


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One thought on “Carolina Furniture Works ships broken dresser as new

  1. jik Post author

    Please see my update above about the partial refund issued to me by Linens ‘n Things on October 11.


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