As consumers, we depend on furniture companies to furnish our homes with everything from cabinets at our workspaces to the beds we sleep on at night. For these reasons it can be extra difficult when an issue arises with a furniture company and we have to deal with delayed, missing, or damaged furniture. In an ideal situation, the company acts quickly and fixes the mistake that it made; however, we know that oftentimes issues do arise and companies aren't perfect. If a furniture company has wronged you in some way, we will be detailing one of the ways that you can seek financial compensation by suing a furniture company in small claims court.
Common Complaints against Furniture Companies
It can be extremely frustrating when you have been waiting months for a piece of furniture to be delivered and it arrives damaged but the furniture store you ordered from doesn’t want to replace the item. Like you, there may be other similarly situated consumers.
Below we have listed some of the common complaints we see consumers bring against furniture companies:
Missing products from a shipment
Unreasonably delayed products
Broken products at delivery
Failure to refund or delayed refund
Not honoring a furniture warranty
What to do before filing a small claims lawsuit against a furniture company
Contact customer service
Make sure you exhaust all your options with the furniture company’s customer service team. Many times this can be a frustrating experience as you are sent from one customer service agent to another and no one is solving your problem.
Send a Demand Letter to the Furniture Company
A demand letter is a letter to the furniture company outlining the situation. Here is what you may consider including in your demand letter to the furniture company:
The items you purchased
What went wrong: they didn’t deliver the furniture, the furniture you purchased is extremely delayed, you received damaged or broken funiture.
How much you would like the furniture company to refund you for.
How many days you expect the furniture company to respond to you in.
Review your contract
Before suing a furniture company in small claims court, it is generally good practice to review your contract with the furniture store and review if there is a forced arbitration clause. Even if there is a forced arbitration clause, there is usually an exception for small claims lawsuits.
Suing a furniture company in small claims court
Suing anyone in small claims may seem overwhelming and impossible, but it may seem even more intimidating to sue a large company, that is why we have attempted to simplify the process and outline it as best we can. The general steps to suing a furniture company in small claims court:
Prepare and file the lawsuit
Serve (properly notify) the furniture company you are suing
Prepare for and attend the small claims hearing against the furniture company
Tips for suing a furniture company in small claims
You want to be sure you are suing the correct furniture company, this may seem easy but the name of the furniture company you purchased from may not be their real legal name. Oftentimes companies work under a trade name also known as a dba (doing business as, fictitious business name, fbn ). Failure to locate a furniture company’s real name, may lead to problems down the road.
Find the person who will be served on behalf of the furniture company. Once you know the real legal name of the furniture company, you can search government records for who to serve on behalf of the furniture company. Many times you can find this information on your state’s Secretary of State website and you may be able to serve the designated agent sometimes known as the registered agent or agent for service of process. This is the person or company who has been designated to be served with legal documents
Start preparing a checklist of all your potential evidence. Evidence is the most important thing you will need, so making sure you start preparing your evidence early will ensure that you can produce all the evidence you might need.
Prepare your evidence
To maximize your chances of having the judge grant you the full amount you are requesting from the furniture company, you will need to present to the judge all your evidence and explanation for the lawsuit. Think through your full claim and be ready to show receipts, invoices, communications, pictures, or any other evidence that will support your claim to the money you are requesting from the furniture company.
Here is a sample checklist of evidence you will need in small claims against a furniture company:
Invoices or receipts
Pictures of the damaged furniture
Emails with the furniture company
Your demand letter to the furniture company
What to expect from a small claims court lawsuit
Small claims hearings are designed for non-lawyers as small claims court is “the people’s court”. This means that the process and the hearing are generally more informal and quick than a regular court case. The furniture company may also try to reach an agreement with you before the hearing date, but it is still important to be prepared to go to the small claims hearing in case you cannot come to a resolution with them. Depending on your state, the small claims court may have rules that a lawyer cannot represent any party during the trial, and even if lawyers are allowed, many furniture companies will often time send a management-level employee to represent the company as legal fees may not be worth it for them. Be sure to do your research on your small claims court to understand all the procedures and rules before your hearing date.
Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila is an attorney, consumer advocate, and certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.