** Update** I received a call from Freedom on Thursday 19th March to discuss the status of my order. They offered either a refund for the missing items or a store credit if I chose to wait for the items (due in June apparently). I took the refund. There are too many conflicting stories for me to be bothered waiting until June only to find out it will be longer (especially with this virus as it is). The most interesting thing was that they mentioned this blog post which, at that time, I hadn’t posted anywhere other than on WordPress. So at least there was finally some customer service and an offer to return my money but I’d still advise looking elsewhere for now.
In December 2019, my partner and I finally achieved our dream of buying our first home. It’s nothing flash; a small three bedder with an average sized backyard with bushy outlook and, to our absolute delight, a swimming pool. Thrilled about not having to buy furniture that fit each new rental we lived in, we turned to Freedom Furniture to buy our outdoor setting and a new couch.
We had bought from Freedom before and didn’t think twice before deciding to head there first. One of our previous couches from there we’d had for 10 years before gifting to friends so we knew it was quality. We ordered online the week before Christmas and eagerly awaited our swish new furniture. The couch would take 12 weeks it said, and the rest 4 weeks.
Things started going wrong when I got the text advising me of the delivery. There was an invoice attached listing the items that were being delivered. Only some were missing. Two arm chairs and two counter stools. I emailed Freedom to follow up (because they don’t provide a contact number for online orders). No reply.
When the delivery came, I asked about the missing items. “They’ll come in a separate delivery,” I was told. Right. Not only were some items missing, one of the dining chairs is missing an arm. Fun times.
I tried emailing Freedom again. No response. I tried emailing my local store. No response. I tried ringing them and in three days no one answered the phone. So many warning bells, such a sinking feeling which was only magnified when I looked at their Facebook page.
Businesses don’t let you just write on their Facebook walls these days cos they’re not that stupid. But below every post Freedom Australia have made on their page (for almost nine months now) are comments of angry customers wanting answers that Freedom just don’t seem able to provide.
They’re laying the blame on a new ordering system, a line they’ve been pulling since mid-last year and no doubt it’s caused some issues. If the comments on Facebook (and my own experience) are anything to go by, Freedom either can’t locate your order, can’t locate the stock, or can’t figure out which order belongs to which customer.
I ended up sending them a PM in Facebook. I got a reply four days later apologising telling me that my other order (the couch) was ready and they’d arrange delivery, and that the missing stock from my other order was arriving in the state today and someone would be in contact. That was January 28th. The couch arrived within a week I think so we were thrilled about that but still nothing on my missing items.
On the 18th February, I followed up having received no communication. The day later, their response was “We are experiencing system issues, blah, blah blah, we’ll be in touch hopefully by the end of next week.”
On the 13th March I followed up again and was told “I can see that Christina from the State Escalation team in Victoria has been in contact with you, is this correct?” When I advised that no, I’d had no communication, I was told “I have on record that Christina has been in contact via email and she has been getting responses from yourself.” As I said in my reply, why oh why would I be wasting my time contacting them via Facebook claiming to have had no communication if a real person had contacted me? And who the hell is she in contact with if she has been getting responses. Not just a response, but responses, plural.
The value of the missing items in my order is $1543. At no stage during any of this have I (or from what people are saying on Facebook, anyone else) been offered a refund or been given any information about how to go about getting my money back. Freedom have it and they’re holding onto it tight.
For now, I’ve made a complaint through the ACCC. If continuing to accept people’s money despite not being able to find the order, not knowing where your stock is or if you have any and not offering any recourse to complaining customers while continuing to advertise doesn’t define unconscionable conduct, I’m not sure what does. And if you’re looking for new furniture yourself, maybe look elsewhere.