Buying Beds in France

We are in the process of buying an apartment in the French Alps, and in anticipation of getting the keys sometime in late February I visited an outlet of one of France’s largest bed suppliers.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello, I’ve chosen two very nice beds for a total of 3,000 Euro and I would like to place the order right now. But can they be delivered in 3 weeks?

Salesman: 3 weeks?! Merde, that is too short! We don’t have the stock!

Me: Okay. So when?

Salesman: I don’t know. Maybe 5 or 8 weeks.

Me: Okay. Not ideal, but this is France and not the USA, so I guess I’ll just have to wait. So, see that bed there? Two of them, please.

Salesman: Oh, that one? Oh, that is an extra delay. We have problems getting that one.

Me: When?

Salesman: I don’t know…we would need to see. It is complicated.

Me: Okay, whatever. Complicated. As is everything here, it seems. So can we at least agree that it can be delivered on a certain date once we know it is available?

Salesman: Sure, yes.

Me: On a Saturday?

Salesman: Mais, merde, non! C’est compliqué! We have the transporter, and many deliveries, and you are not in Paris but a province, and….well, it’s complicated.

Me: So here I am with 3,000 Euros ready so spend *right now* on a product you have right there, and you can’t tell me when it will be delivered, you can’t deliver it on a Saturday, and everything is too complicated?

Salesman: Bienvenue en France, m’sieur.

To be fair, the salesman looked about two stages away from full-on suicide, and I did feel sorry for him.  And I did place the order, because there was a sale on and anywhere else would have given me the same story as it was exactly the same when I bought a sofa last spring.  On that occasion I ended up buying the one in the shop in order to avoid a 12 week wait.  Only you must pay the full amount up-front, naturellement.

The bed salesman called me back a couple of days later.  He surprised me by telling me they’d managed to find some in stock (seriously, this nationwide company is unable to check stock in real time from its sales outlets; they need to send a special request and wait a day or two) and could deliver them whenever I wanted.  But only on Mondays or Wednesdays.  Why only those days?  Because “you don’t live near Paris” and “the transporter needs to do other deliveries” and “it’s complicated”.  Bienvenue en France, indeed.

I am comforted by the knowledge that it would be no different in the UK.

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23 thoughts on “Buying Beds in France

  1. Exactly the same in Australia except that it’ll be cheaper and quicker to have the bed delivered from the USA.

  2. Indeed, I thought of that. But the problem is with beds you need to try them, I need a firm bed or by back gets wrecked. And I discovered it’s not as simple as just picking a model of mattress in a shop and ordering it online, because the models aren’t international (or if they are, they use different names). Besides, I don’t so much mind paying a lot for a good mattress, along with shoes I think they are one of the few things spending good money on in exchange for quality. It wasn’t so much the price that bothered me, it was the spend vs service level disparity. Which I’m sure you know all about in Australia.

  3. I don’t think it is the case in the UK Tim, in fact my parents just bought a house in the creuse, had an almost exact same issue you had with beds (amongst other things) and got them delivered from the UK in under a week, on a Saturday.

    I really like your blog by the way!

  4. “I am comforted by the knowledge that it would be no different in the UK.”

    As it happens, I ordered a sofa from John Lewis on Saturday: delivered this morning at 8:15. I was given the choice of delivery days(including the weekend) and times.

  5. I recently bought a bed and a mattress on Amazon for delivery to my address in London. The bed was delivered promptly. The mattress (actually from a 3rd party seller selling through Amazon) was shipped promptly by Yodel, who promptly lost it and claimed that they had delivered it to a non-existent neighbour. It took several weeks before I was able to convince everyone that Yodel had indeed lost it and to get the merchant to send me another one. I’m not sure this is better.

  6. And the French store’s motto is, ‘Osez nous demander la lune.’ Yeah, but beds? C’est compliqué.

  7. You’ve been abroad too long, Tim. Deliveries here often work pretty well. Thatcher did not entirely live in vain.

    Our Australian experience a generation ago: we tried the bed and liked it. Could he deliver? Yeaheaheah. When? This evening. And so he rolled up, with our bed on a trailer attached to his car.

  8. @ Stuart,

    Thanks for reading, and welcome!

    As I said in my reply to TNA, I did think about ordering from abroad…but really needed to test the mattress first. I hope your parents enjoy France!

  9. @ Recusant and dearieme,

    Sure, you can get deliveries rapidly and when you want them in the UK. You can in France, too. Darty, for example, is good. But only if the item is in stock.

    If it isn’t, then you’re screwed. When I posted this on FB, a friend’s wife commented that she was in her second month of waiting for John Lewis to deliver beds and wardrobes. I recently bought a coat online from House of Fraser. When it arrived (in Paris) I found they’d put the wrong item in the box and I had to send it back. And I noticed that a good 20-30% of items were not in stock, even online. These kind of stock issues and delivery fuckups are common in France, and no less common in the UK (I buy a lot of stuff online from there, plus my family are still over there and occasionally we talk).

    I wonder if I walked into Currys tomorrow and asked for a fridge to be delivered next week whether they could tell me if it would be in the morning or afternoon, or be sure they’d come on the agreed date. Anyone want to bet?

  10. @ dearieme,

    Our Australian experience a generation ago: we tried the bed and liked it. Could he deliver? Yeaheaheah. When? This evening. And so he rolled up, with our bed on a trailer attached to his car.

    That sounds like Russia!

  11. A Bloke in East Germany goes to buy a Trabant. Having selected his preferred model (from the one available) he goes to sign the contract at the dealer. The dealer tells him there’s a three year wait, whereupon bloke says “sure, that’s fine, but will you be delivering it in the morning or the afternoon”. The dealer, somewhat puzzled, asks “well, it’s in three years from now, so why do you care if it’s in the morning or the afternoon”?

    To which Bloke responds “Well, I’d prefer it was in the afternoon because I’ve got the plumber coming in the morning.

  12. @ Steve,

    Some of you fellers don’t know how good you’ve got it.

    Hey, you *chose* to live the third world. 😉

  13. @ BiG,

    The Soviets had a version of that joke, Ronnie Reagan used it in his repertoire.

  14. @ Patrick,

    Ah, I know Ikea but don’t like their beds. I don’t like latex mattresses, prefer box spring and the Ikea box springs are expensive and not particularly good. Besides, Ikea on a weekend in Paris is its own special version of Hell. Plus half of their stuff is out of stock, too.

  15. AO or Appliaces Online as they used to be known are excellant for white goods,i ordered a washing machine online 7pm on a Sunday it was at my door 11am the next day from 200 miles away, amazing really.

  16. Let me be the squillonth person to say the UK is actually pretty good at this sort of thing now. Especially Amazon. Order tonight, here tomorrow – regularly.

    I ordered a case of wine on a Saturday evening not long ago; this would have been a custom package (nobody else would have chosen the exact same combination, it wasn’t a standard offer) – it arrived on the Monday morning. Thank you, Averys of Bristol.

    No, we’re streets ahead of the French here, and don’t even get me started on Italy.

  17. Let me be the squillonth person to say the UK is actually pretty good at this sort of thing now. Especially Amazon. Order tonight, here tomorrow – regularly.

    This is the line defenders of the NHS normally take: I had no problems, therefore the system works fine.

    The French retail/ordering/postal system works brilliantly – until it doesn’t. Maybe the UK is better, but fuckups still happen. I’ve already mentioned House of Fraser sending the wrong item. Two weeks ago I ordered something small and simple online from a British retailer, and they sent it to me without a name above the address. I live in a block of multiple flats and they had no way of knowing who to deliver it to, so they returned it to the merchant. It’s easy to see what had happened: the transposing of the name and address fields on the order form into that of UPS for delivery wasn’t checked, and it went out the door with half the information missing. This is a common occurence (particularly with banks, which cannot handle different address formats) but ought to have been checked – as should the item House of Fraser sent me.

    So the UK might be marginally better than France, but I don’t believe for one minute it has become some centre of retail excellence on a par with the USA. I buy too much stuff from there and have enough family members around London to know otherwise.

  18. AO or Appliaces Online as they used to be known are excellant for white goods,i ordered a washing machine online 7pm on a Sunday it was at my door 11am the next day from 200 miles away, amazing really.

    Darty’s system seems to be working well: when you order, a calendar pops up asking you when you want delivery. Or course, the proof of just how good it is will only be revealed on the day in question.

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