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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: How to Buy Furniture Online

African-american couple placing sofa at new home
Prostock-Studio/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Full length of happy black couple placing sofa in living room of new home. Moving, interior design and real estate concept, copy space

Online purchases of home products and furnishings have nearly doubled, and the online outdoor furniture sales have increased more than 400%. This increase likely reflects the home improvements many homeowners are making, parents shopping for desks for home school learning, and employees who have permanently switched to a work from home situation. Convenience aside, making large purchases online should always be approached with care.

Here are a few tips for purchasing furniture online. Only shop with reputable retailers. Research a retailer’s page before deciding to do business with them. Reputable sellers provide information about their company and always have valid contact information. Understand the store’s return and refund policy. Get to know the delivery options.

Measure your space - will it fit through the door? Choose the color carefully. Read several reviews. When finding the ideal piece or furniture, read as many consumer reviews as possible, keeping a critical eye out for comments about the quality of the furniture and the experience with the retailer. Use these for reference before making a final purchasing decision.

Do a price comparison. Some pieces of furniture are available from multiple retailers, so always compare prices before getting the best deal. Don’t forget to factor in shipping fees and taxes when comparing prices. For store financing, rent-to-own, and layaway plans, carefully read the fine print. Inspect furniture upon delivery.

Before signing any delivery paperwork, inspect the furniture. If it is damaged or missing pieces, you don’t have to accept it. When a delivery is refused because of damage, you will no longer be responsible for payment.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.