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Consumer Delivery - Part 5 - "I'll Just Leave The Key"

Furniture World Magazine


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It's not a good idea.

The singles scene is providing retailers with an important new marketing opportunity, as upwardly mobile young people furnish their nests. But, after you make the sale, delivery has to close it. And that can be a problem which, like the market, is unique-because most working singles can't be at home during regular delivery hours.

Customers usually can arrange for neighbors or relatives to let your men in. If this isn't possible, a customer might suggest leaving the key in some "safe" place-like under the welcome mat or over the door. Or she might ask you to leave the delivery "in the back" or in the garage.

A polite "No, thank you" is your best response to the key-under-the mat idea. Even if a customer gives you written authorization, this kind of delivery is fraught with legal risk. Suggest an evening or Saturday delivery. Customers always appreciate this extra service and are willing to pay for the convenience.

There are good reason to avoid "in the back" deliveries-including the possibility of theft, of damage, of short- or non-delivery claims, among others. A written authorization is a far cry from a signed receipt.

If you absolutely must make the delivery when nobody is home, here are some ways to avoid problems:

  • Ask your customer to personally provide and later pick up the key. Don't take responsibility for keys under mats.
  • Make sure the authorization spells out all contingencies. The last thing you need is for the cat to fly out the door or the dog to jump all over your men.
  • Ask that your customer "pave the way" for the delivery by removing small scatter rugs, fragile objects and the like. Furniture placement locations should be clearly marked.
  • Never allow just one man to make an absentee recipient delivery -even if it's a very small piece. Two men should always enter the home, and both should time and sign the delivery report.

When your customer says " I'll just leave the key," the key thing for you is to protect yourself while delivering the goods.

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.