Saturday, January 22, 2011

You'll Love It At Levitz!

I originally planned to write this blog two weeks ago, but it so happens that just about the time I was snapping the photos you now see on this post the Tragedy in Tucson was beginning to unfold two miles east of the Sam Levitz Furniture store where Dennis and I were shopping. 

So I am here today to share with you a personal story of why I love it at Sam Levitz Furniture. I want to go on record that I personally do not enjoy shopping and I find shopping for furniture to be a very difficult task. In fact I could write multiple posts about my furniture buying experiences. There are  questions of style, quality, fabric, leather, pretend-leather, small print, real wood, chrome, glass tops, free delivery, mechanical furniture, stain resistant, size, warranties, guarantees, etc...believe me the list is endless. I am reminded of visiting a friend’s parent’s home. This was about 36 years ago. I was invited for dinner. The parents were both physicians and their home was in Beverly Hills. I walked in and the living room and dining room were furnished with what looked to be expensive patio furniture. I was taken I said to my friend “I don’t understand the furniture.” To which he replied: “When my parents first married and bought this house they could not afford real furniture. So they bought expensive patio furniture, thinking that as time went by they would move the patio furniture to the patio and buy real furniture. But then the kids came along...and here we are 25 years later!” Enough said.

Now back to Levitz. This story really begins 32 years ago. Dennis and I were newly married and we had just purchased our first home. We needed some furniture so we went to the local Levitz Store. That day we purchased a casual dining set, an étagère and a recliner. (See the slide show) We had the dining set and the étagère for 19 years.(I don't want to talk about the recliner!) For most of those 19 years we never shopped again at Levitz because we did not live near a Levitz store.

In 2008 Dennis and I relocated to Tucson, AZ. The home we purchased has a beautiful large master bedroom suite. We knew we wanted to get a new king size bedroom set. And lo and behold there was a Levitz store a few miles from our home. It is now called Sam Levitz Furniture. We went shopping. We found a set that we loved. Very simple lines, dark wood, king size bed, two night stands, and a six drawer dresser. Furniture was delivered and for six months everything was fine.

Then one day we noticed that the mattress was sagging on one side. We called Customer Service and they scheduled an inspection. Inspector arrived and determined the mattress was faulty. Mattress was replaced. Six month later the new mattress began to sag. We called Customer Service, they scheduled an inspection. Inspector arrived and again deemed the mattress was faulty. Mattress was replaced; however, this time I picked one that did not have a pillow-top.

This past Christmas Eve a piece of support wood on the side rail gave way and three screws holding this support wood broke off. Dennis and I took the mattress and box springs off the bed, moved the bed to the other side of the room and waited until the Monday after Christmas to call Levitz.  When I reached Customer Service the lady kindly informed me that the bed was out of warranty, but I pleaded successfully for her to at least send a furniture technician to examine the bed to determine how it might be fixed. She agreed.

In the meantime, I started reviewing my receipts and tags from the original 2008 furniture purchase. I noticed that the king size mattress information indicated that the mattress needs to be supported by five hardwood supports.  I looked at our broken supports and realized there were only three!

The service man arrived and carefully examined the bed. He called customer service and described the condition of the bed and what needed to be done to fix it. They indicated that it was out of warranty and they would not approve the repair. I thanked the service man and he left.

The next day Dennis and I went to Northwest Tucson Sam Levitz Furniture store, receipts and photos of the bed in hand. We asked to speak to the store manager. Two minutes later we were introduced to Tom Scott, the store manager. This is where the “guest experience design” began. Tom invited us to sit down at a beautiful wicker patio table set. He encouraged us to tell our story. And Tom listened with big ears.  He heard us and we all came to certain conclusions.
  1. It seemed the king size bed had a design flaw - three width support slats instead of five.
  2. The king size bed that had been delivered to us in 2008 was missing the middle head to foot length support slat (which would have been the fourth slat).
  3. It seemed the 2008 delivery team did not notice the missing slats, perhaps there was a parts box missing in the shipment.
  4. The subsequent mattress inspectors did not lift the bed to determine that there was insufficient support.
  5. Levitz no longer carries this bed.
  6. The manufacturer no longer makes this bed.

So now we know the facts, what do we do about it? Given that it was New Year’s Eve Tom asked us to give him a few days. He wanted to review this with his Vice-President on Monday. Good enough for us. We shook hands.

The following Monday Tom called. He was sure he had a solution. In their warehouse they still had queen size versions of our bed and he was going to send out technicians to replace the side rails, add five width supports, and the missing length support. Perfect. On January 7th the technicians arrived, but we had an unforeseen problem. Everything would have worked fine, except the queen width slats were not wide enough for the king bed! The technicians left and we called Tom to report what happened.  He asked if he could send out another technician to install non-factory slats. We agreed. But as the technician was finishing up we all realized this just was not going to work. We called Tom and explained the condition of the bed. He told us to simply thank the technician for his help and he invited us to visit the store on Saturday to pick out replacement furniture. He would give us a full credit for our original purchase!

John Russo, Dennis, & Tom Scott at Sam Levitz Furniture
So now you know why I love it at Levitz. On January 8, 2011, Dennis and I went to Levitz and met with Tom. He introduced us to John Russo in sales who took us on a tour of the showroom. When I explained to John that I like really simple lines and wanted dark wood he realized that he should take us into the Gallery at Levitz. He introduced us to Leon Asp an interior designer who showed us the Four Hands Old Java bedroom set. We loved it even though we knew we would have to pay the difference between our credit and price of this set. Before I agreed, I got down on the floor and looked at the bed support system - 10 widthway hardwood slats and two lengthway hardwood slats. SOLD!  

I hope you enjoyed this story and my slide show below. I was happy to learn more about Sam Levitz and Levitz’s long history in Tucson. The point of my story is that customer service is a two way street. It is important to be a good customer (save your receipts, ask questions, read) and at the same time the business needs to employ good “listeners”. Tom Scott is a good listener and I like to think Dennis and I are good customers.  

Today’s lesson: take the time to state your case and tell your story...before you tweet or blog about a business. There are usually solutions and that is the magic of guest experience design with a community minded corporate citizen.

How about you?  Bought any furniture lately? 


Malik Moosa-Soomar said...

After reading your post, I went and checked under my bed and realized I only have 3. I should have checked it before purchasing it but we love it.

Judy Helfand said...

Here is the thing. Read the warranty on your mattress. If it is a king size it might say that you need to support it with more than three widthway slats.


alex amarxon said...

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