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Should Pottery Barn Give Us a Refund?

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A few weeks back our dog Jake decided to rip into some cushions on our patio furniture. They were too far gone by the time we noticed. As a result, we've been looking for new chaise lounge cushions. You'd think they'd be easier to find, but everything has been fairly expensive or not the right size.

We thought our prayers were answered when my wife spotted this Pottery Barn sale on Chaise Lounge Cushions. Instead of costing $250 a cushion, we could buy them for $50... what a deal, right? Sadly, there was a $100 "delivery surcharge" and $17 for shipping and processing. I really don't understand how there's shipping and delivery charges, but we factored it into the overall price and it was still a decent deal considering the quality.

We got the cushions and they were twice as wide as our chairs. My wife exclaimed, "This isn't what I ordered!" So we went back to the website to see what wrong. In case the sale changes with the previous link, here's an image (click for larger):

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

I'll start off by saying that there's enough information here to pin it on us. It does say "Double Chaise Cushion: 53" wide x 86" long x 2.5" high" in the overview box. However, if you missed this piece of information, as we did, I can see where the confusion comes in.

The picture is of the single, which isn't even available for purchase. It would be nice if they removed all references to the single when there aren't any there. Also, we saw the "Double Stripes/Prints/Solids with Piping Chaise Cushion" and thought it meant "Double Stripes" as in the pattern. I would have expected to see a comma between Double and Stripes - or better yet use a word that is unambiguous like "two person." Best of all would be to have two separate pages for the separate sizes, so there is no chance of confusion.

If you click in the Product Info box, the dimensions are only presented for the single size:
potteryBarnChaiseCushionsProductInfo

It does not mention that it's a "single" or "double" or that another size other than the one we wanted exists. Shouldn't the Product Info box be accurate for the product? If it isn't, shouldn't this entitle us to a refund?

There's also this interesting return policy in the shipping information:
potteryBarnChaiseCushionsReturnPolicy

It clearly says that the item is final-sale and can't be returned in italics, but the return policy on the page seems to differ. Not shown in the image is the part of the return policy that also says, "We also cannot accept returns of final-sale items which are identified by a price which ends in .99." I realize that they probably put the same Shipping Info box on all items, but why not tailor it like they do the Product Info?

I'm really on the fence on this one. We clearly could have avoided this situation by being more careful. At the same time, Pottery Barn could have done about 5 or 6 things to have prevented the situation as well.

[Update: I must have reached the right person when I called just now, because they authorized curbside pick-up with almost no questions asked. I didn't even have to point out the Product Info box inconsistency, though I did because they should update the website.]

Last updated on October 15, 2009.

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20 Responses to “Should Pottery Barn Give Us a Refund?”

  1. Have you tried calling and complaining? Most companies will refund the item, even if the site says it won’t, to keep the customer happy. Trick is to be nice, respectful, but very firm. Tell them you were mislead and point out where and why.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I think my wife did call. However, this was before I saw the Product Info page specifically mentions a size that they didn’t deliver.

  3. I think Pottery Barn should take everything back because even on sale, all of their stuff is overpriced. Just like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn is another way to spell “paid too much.”

  4. Jessica says:

    To be fair, it does say “Double” everywhere. I think the onus is on the customer to check things before ordering and not just look at the picture.

  5. Lazy Man says:

    I agree Pottery Barn is overpriced, but I don’t think that’s a reason why they should take back the stuff.

    I think that at 80% off, Pottery Barn loses it’s “paid too much” tag for that item.

  6. Lazy Man says:

    Jessica, we thought that the double applied to the pattern (hence the “double stripe”). We had never heard or seen such a big chaise lounge (though I do notice and image of one there now).

  7. kathleen says:

    Pottery Barn delivers quality product that lasts way longer than anything you can get at Walmart or Lowes. With Pottery Barn (and other stores like Williams-Sonoma) you are paying for a product as well as a service. Pottery Barn and its affliates provide some of the best customer service in retail.

    They will own up to mistakes and always refund a product. I know first hand they take back product ruined and mistreated by the customer and still refund or replace it. How many stores give you that kind of service?

  8. QA says:

    Error when trying to access the larger image

    Forbidden

    You don’t have permission to access /wp-content/uploads/2009/10/potteryBarnChaiseCushions.png on this server.

  9. QA says:

    Are you logged into WP when you try it? I’ve tried IE8 and FF. both produce the error.

  10. Lazy Man says:

    Nope, I’m not logged in and just tried it on Chrome and it worked.

  11. bromoney says:

    I think you deserve one and glad to see you’re getting one. Most companies will give in if you are just the slightest bit persistent.

  12. Four Pillars says:

    I really think you should get the refund based on the product info box alone. That’s where you go to get the nitty gritty data like sizes.

    Sure, there were some clues in the other parts of the page but the product info was completely misleading.

    Mike

  13. Speaking of your images … they also don’t appear (any of them) for me in IE6 (hey, work computer, I have no control). But if I go to the single post page (to make a comment) the images DO appear.

    And then they become cached, and appear on the main page as well :)

    I’m not sure if that’s something you can actually fix, but it might be fun to watch you chase your tail …

  14. Debtress says:

    The part that gets me is the $100 delivery surcharge. I imagine that the box that it came in was probably quite large, but that definitely offsets the 80% discount being offered on the item.

    Did PB refund all the shipping charges?

  15. Lazy Man says:

    It’s two boxes because I purchased two of them. However, yes, they are quite, quite large. Even with the shipping charge the quality is up there with ones that we found for $200 each, so the $250 for the pair would have been well worth it. (Of course if you find better, let me know :-) ).

    They didn’t refund the shipping, but left it kind of ambiguous ending the conversation with a “call me back when they pick it up and I’ll take care of you.” Either shipping refund is on the table or I’m about to get an indecent proposal from Jill in customer service ;-).

  16. So long as the product is not damaged, they should follow the Nordstrom’s model and deliver high customer service and take it back.

    Otherwise, influential personal finance bloggers like yourself will bash them! :)

  17. Let me see if I can summarize the “logic” of kathleen the Pottery Barn defender. (1) she buys an overpriced product from Pottery Barn. (2) she misuses and damages the overpriced product from Pottery Barn. (3) she convinces Pottery Barn to take back the product damaged by her misuse. (4) Pottery Barn continues to overprice its products so that it can continue to refund money to customers who abuse and then return their products. And this is why I should buy overpriced stuff from Pottery Barn?

  18. We always, always, always advocate calling. Nothing’s guaranteed, but we’ve seen policies overlooked dozens of times for the sake of good customer service. It was definitely a good move to call them.

  19. jose says:

    ive always had good service at pottery barn last time i was in i saw a lady returning some sheets that had dog hair all over them the clerk was very polite and returned them i guess the person didnt even have them that long im sure the items cannot be resold im sure some of the high prices are because people have taken advantage of their good service there is a price to pay for that you probably wouldn’t dare to try the same thing at walmart or other places

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