MOORESVILLE, Ind. – A couple is sitting nice and cozy inside their new La-Z-Boy recliners after fighting to get those items delivered before Christmas.
Gary Alspaugh decided to buy his significant other, Julie Ruble, a new chair in July. His plan was to gift it to her for Christmas. He purchased it in person and was told it would be delivered in 90 days.
“That’s fine, I can live with that,” he said. “That was even before Thanksgiving, so that was fine.”
He didn’t know Julie went and bought a matching chair for him shortly afterward. She was given a similar delivery date. When that October date neared, though, the couple called the company. That’s when La-Z-Boy informed Alspaugh and Ruble that their chairs wouldn’t be delivered until January.
“I told them, ‘That’s not acceptable,’” Alspaugh said. “I asked him, ‘Can you just give me my money back so I can do something else?’ ‘Oh, no, we can’t do that.’”
Alspaugh got upset. He had wanted that new chair for Ruble because it was their first Christmas together. Both he and Ruble had lost their spouses the year prior. They had met in December 2019 at a grief support group and grew close. Alspaugh wanted Ruble to have a new chair because the one she usually sat in was used by his late wife when she was dying from cancer.
“So, it was important to have by the holidays,” he said, tearfully. “Very important.”
La-Z-Boy refused to refund the couple, citing its contract. On the back, the company clearly says customers only have three days to cancel their order.
CBS4 reached out to the company for a statement. Eli Winkler, vice president and CMO, responded and promised he would look into the order. A few days later, Winkler explained that because Alspaugh and Ruble wanted their chairs delivered together, the delivery would take longer. He said he would ask about expediting the order, though, considering the special circumstances.
In early December, Alspaugh called CBS4 again. La-Z-Boy had called and notified them their chairs would be delivered between Dec. 2 and Dec. 4, right around the couple’s first anniversary.
La-Z-Boy now warns consumers on its website that it is experiencing shipping delays. In some cases, the company says, it could take four to six months for people to get their order.
People nationwide are experiencing similar frustration. Some Hoosiers said they ordered a freezer only to find out it would take nine weeks. Others have said their furniture orders wouldn’t be delivered until February.
“Consumer demand has been very unpredictable because of the pandemic,” said professor Helen Colby with the Kelley School of Business explained. “I think a lot of supply chains are having a problem.”
Colby said customers should keep this in mind when shopping. She suggests people ask about expected delivery dates and any potential delays.
“Managers know a little bit about what’s going on and they have been seeing it because they’re hearing customer complaints,” she pointed out. “Even if they don’t know the time, they might know, ‘Yeah, we’ve been running a little behind.’ It can help you set more realistic expectations.”
Colby said it’s important to stay flexible during this pandemic. If you’re ordering multiple items, but there is one item you really need as soon as possible, she said customers should share that with the salesperson.
“It’s really easy to get attached to certain ideas or worked up about something when you’re stressed, right? And we’re all stressed right now, much more than usual so asking yourself, ‘Do I really care about that couch? That new dishwasher?’ It’s one thing if your dishwasher is broken and you’re waiting for a new one. It’s another if you’ve been working from home and you realized your dishwasher was loud and you bought a quieter one.”