The Four Worst Delivery Nightmares and How to Avoid Them

By Steve Sheinkopf, Yale Appliance

In his latest blog for Yale Appliance, CEO and BrandSource member Steve Sheinkopf describes appliance deliveries as “probably one of the worst experiences” a consumer will ever have to contend with, and explains how customers — and dealers — can avoid the four biggest delivery snafus.

For the first 15 years of my career, I dealt mostly with service issues and staff issues. This one always stuck with me because it was the last time this type of problem ever happened.

About 20 years ago, one of our lead delivery guys visited me in my office. He seemed troubled, so I listened. His helper stole a PlayStation out of a customer’s garage.

I called a friend of mine who is a private detective and told him the situation. We brought in the delivery man the next morning. I told him he had a choice: Go to jail or go home and get the PlayStation.

When he played dumb, I told him this was his last opportunity, and the private detective would go with him to his house. He relented. I received the PlayStation and delivered it to the customer that same morning.

I won’t forget that day because I called our HR attorney to push for CORI certification. CORI gives us access to the criminal database before hiring anyone delivering or performing service in your home. What surprised me was that the same delivery guy was delivering for another company one week later.

Appliance delivery ranks as probably one of the worst experiences you will ever have to contend with.

This article may not be as flashy as comparing professional ranges, but it could be more important.

As a bonus, you can download our delivery checklist to compare all the retailers, box stores, and Internet storefronts based on all the variables associated with delivery. In it, you will find a comprehensive list of every possible delivery consideration. You will learn about early water leak detection, how to ensure your delivery person isn’t a convicted felon, and how to protect your soft wooden floors before and after delivery, even with an 800-pound Sub-Zero refrigerator.

First, let’s start with an easy solution to many of the worst delivery problems.

1. Never Sign for Anything Without Inspection
Never sign for anything without inspecting the items thoroughly first. If you do, most companies will not allow you to place a damage claim after the fact — not just damage either, but wrong products delivered that you install. You are on the hook for any issues once you install.

Whatever you do, take your time inspecting your appliances on delivery. Don’t be rushed or hassled into signing. Please don’t leave it in your garage boxed either. Always unpack and inspect any delivery, from appliances to furniture to accessories.’

2. Document Damage to Your Home or Appliances
How to handle appliance damage could be its own article. First, let’s look at why it’s such a big problem.

The number one complaint is damage; it happens 3 percent to 9 percent of the time or more, depending on the store.

Many of your appliances are made in Korea, Europe, and Mexico. There will be some shipping problems in moving appliances multiple times over the oceans and transporting them across the country using multiple warehouses.

But appliances have also become heavier, especially stoves and refrigerators, while floors have become softer.

Damage can also refer to your house or the actual appliance. We video every delivery of the products plus the delivery path to your home. However, we are not perfect. So, we insure ourselves for every kind of scenario to ensure you will be taken care of if damage occurs. You could ask for your store’s insurance policy, especially if you live in a tower. Water damage could flood multiple homes below you.

In Case Damage Happens to Your Appliances or Your Home Upon Arrival:
Often the store will give you a discount for keeping a damaged appliance, but you want to make sure it will not affect the appliance’s operation. It would be best if you took pictures, document everything, and have the delivery guys sign their delivery form verifying the damage. And call the store while they are there. You need as much documentation as possible, especially with property damage. Most companies will lowball estimates, so you will have the added burden of providing a real contractor’s estimate.

If you do not verify that damage, you will have to go through your homeowner’s insurance. A bad enough problem will certainly increase or even cancel your homeowners’ policy.

Most companies want you to own their problems because your insurance will increase, not theirs. The damage is the biggest problem.

3. Prevent Hidden Delivery Fees
Another common issue is unforeseen, yet increasingly common extra fees charged at the time of delivery. Free delivery is great, but most of the time it’s a drop-off at your curb, and that’s OK if that’s a smaller package or appliance like a dishwasher. However, you need to ask the right questions at the time of the sale, not when the driver is at your door.

Here are the most common hidden delivery fees:
Stairs: Anything over a flight seems to be a $20 charge.
Removal: How much does each removal cost? The going rate is $20 to $40. Not just the appliance, but the removal of packaging can be a separate charge as well.
Basic Connection: For electric ranges, dryers and washers. How much is the charge?

What you want is to know the delivery price into your home with stairs, including connection and removal of old appliances plus packaging.

4. Prepare for Delayed Delivery Times
You would expect delivery times for appliances to be better. After all, we now get edgy when we wait more than six minutes for an Uber.

Many companies can narrow it down to two hours because the routing technology exists, yet many more will still give you a full day and half-day lead times. We have an app allowing you to trace the truck to your house within 30 minutes.

Delivery of appliances into people’s homes is not an exact science, especially in Boston and other cities during rush hour traffic. However, you shouldn’t wait half a day or even more than a few hours. You will wait if you buy from an Internet site with no local warehousing. It leaves New York (most Internet retailers are in New York), then makes the journey to your home from faraway terminals. You would never know because those outsourced drivers have other customers and deliveries.

Key Takeaways
Scared? Don’t be. Just ask the right questions beforehand, especially how much a delivery will cost with stairs, including installation and removal.

Take your time inspecting any delivered appliances or anything. Document any problems at the time of the delivery.

Wasting a whole day, delivery damages and installation issues are often more costly than a good delivery with a fee.

Steve Sheinkopf is CEO and third-generation principal of Boston’s Yale Appliance, a BrandSource member and 97-year-old premier destination for premium appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting and service.