I work with a lot of repeat customers, and most of those customers started out skeptical about buying fine French antique furniture on the internet. I don’t blame them. It’s a large purchase that you can’t inspect in person before plunking down the cash. Who would be that crazy?
Luckily, many of our customers are “that crazy.” They not only took the plunge once, but they’ve come back again and again. They’ve learned the secret: Buying fine antique furniture online can be a fun, affordable way to fill your home with items you love to live with. Here are my tips for safely buying antique furniture on the internet.
1. Know Your Seller
Greg and I have been doing this for nearly ten years, so we have an online presence that’s easily discoverable by search engine. A Google search for “EuroLux Antiques” returns 96,000 results! You’ll find us on eBay, on YouTube, on Etsy. You’ll find reviews of us on Yelp and at our local Better Business Bureau. Of course, you’ll also find us on major social media sites, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.
All of this exposure says several things about us (or any online seller). It shows we’ve been in business for awhile. It says we’re engaged with our clients. It says we’re reputable.
True, anyone can fake an online presence. That’s why we’re also easily accessible by phone at 803-276-4001. We have a bricks-and-mortar gallery (see photo below) with regular business hours. If you want to discover what type of customer service experience you’re likely to encounter with any internet seller, simply call their customer service number before you make a purchase. It might be an eye-opening experience for you!
2. Browse the Seller’s Website
But don’t browse their listings just yet. Head for the “About” link. No “About” link? That could be a red flag. Search for a similar page that tells you about the seller. The information you find on the seller’s “About” page can tell you a lot about the type of service to expect from them. And in the business of selling antiques online, service is everything.
Does the About page only give company information, or do you learn something about the actual people behind the business? Most customers would rather purchase antiques from a real person, not from a faceless company.
Check to see if the seller maintains a blog. What type of information does the blog contain? The tone and style of the blog’s content can give you some great clues about the character of the seller.
Lastly, check the seller’s Shipping and/or Terms page. Make sure they offer a reasonable shipping fee and a returns policy.
3. Check References or Testimonials
If you visit our eBay page, you’ll notice we have 100% positive feedback with over 3000 transactions. I’m very proud of that track record! But it’s not the end of the story. You’ll also find a virtual book containing dozens of testimonials from our clients on our website. If you’re considering buying antique furniture online and you don’t see plenty of customer testimonials on the seller’s website, don’t hesitate to ask for references
4. Ask about Flaws
Maintain a healthy skepticism toward any antiques seller who consistently lists items as being in “mint” or “near-mint” condition. Antique furniture, in particular, generally shows the slings and arrows of wear. In fact, that’s one reason people buy antiques: They love that “lived-in” look!
If the seller provides poor photos or few photos of antique items on its website, be sure to ask for more pictures or a detailed description of the furniture by phone. I’m always eager to describe the scratches and chips on a piece of antique furniture to a prospective customer because I want them to know precisely what they’re getting. Greg always takes multiple photos of every item from various angles to authentically represent the condition of antique furniture on our website. We strive to describe colors as accurately as possible. Because customer satisfaction is our top priority, we want our customers to know that “this buffet’s marble top has a chipped corner” or “that antique clock is missing a finial.” If you’re dealing with an online antiques seller who won’t reveal flaws in his or her merchandise, you might be wary of dealing with them.
This gorgeous Henry II antique French buffet, for example, experienced a shipping mishap so we replaced the original marble top with a similar piece of granite. Note how we state that right up front, in the description. You have a right to know exactly what you’re buying — from us or any other online antiques seller!
I hope this brief guide to buying antiques on the internet helps you shop with confidence. Remember, as the customer you always have the right to ASK. Any reputable seller should be happy to field your questions and help you feel comfortable making a large purchase. I know all of us at EuroLux strive to do just that.
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Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with Aimee on Google+ or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!