A few weeks ago, we wrote about our bistro table hunt, and our dilemma whether to go with the name brand Fermob or a cheap knock-off. While we weighed the pros and cons of each as well as our reader’s thoughtful comments, we periodically surfed the net to see what other possibilities or info we might find to inform our decision. THAT led to the discovery of the perfect table AND of other considerations in the name brand vs. knockoff debate, namely customer service and resale value.
In a Google search, a Fermob Bistro table up popped we hadn’t see before: a stylish, 3-legged folding table the looked like mid-century one we coveted years ago. We called The Garden Gates, whose ad featured the table, to ask if it came in a matte white finish. Yep.
H-m-m…maybe THIS was our answer: a well-made table that would look great indoors as well as out, would last for years, be a worthwhile investment. We hung up to mull the decision and called back a while later to buy one.
Steven in customer service was silent for a second. “Oh. Uh. That color will take two months to get from France”, he said. Our heart sank. We’d forgotten THAT part of buying Fermob: only a few colors are actually stocked in the U.S; most have to be ordered from France.
“Darn”, we said. “That stymies things. The table won’t arrive until late summer”.
“Well”, said Steven, “we could loan you a table until the one you want comes.”
“LOAN us one?”
“Yeah, we’ll send you a similar table —the one you want but in black, say. Just keep the box and packing. When you get the white table, we’ll send you a shipping label and you can send us the loaner back”.
“If I write about this on our blog, would you honor other customers the same way?” ”
Yep”, he said.
He made the sale. The interim “loaner” table arrived a few days ago. We discovered another benefit the Tertio has over the original “classic” bistro table we were first considering. The 3-intersecting legs-design makes it easy to get up close to the table without bumping you legs.
New Orleans-based The Garden Gates reminded us that extraordinary customer service is another good factor to consider. Will the store REALLY take care of you? It’s worth cultivating relationships with companies like this.
We thought of another consideration when buying name brand or knock-off. Often, name brand has signifigant RESALE VALUE. For example, 15 years we bought one of the first Aaron office chairs for a then-frightening $750. Having used it every day for all those years and written two books sitting in it (one over 750 pages!), we were able to sell it on Craigslist for $375, half its original value. So the real cost of the chair was $375. How many cheap office chairs would have come and gone (fallen apart) in that fifteen years?
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