View Full Version : thrift store customer service question

01-21-2014, 09:28 AM
I run a small non-profit thrift store. Occasionally, we sell furniture. My question is about storage fees -- sometimes a customer will pay in full for a piece of furniture, but is unable to take it home with them immediately. This is par for the course, but what if the item is left behind for an extended period of time, like a week or more? Our store is small and we constantly have new merchandise moving through. We can't afford to have an item that's not for sale taking up valuable space. Is it fair to inform customers who buy furniture that they will be subject to a storage fee (something modest, like $4 per day) if the item is not picked up within "x" number of days? If you were the customer, would you then expect us to take extra precautions to ensure the safety and security of your purchase?

01-22-2014, 01:53 AM
I think it would be reasonable to offer a free-of-charge storage period, such as a week, and then charge by the day to store items already purchased, just as you're suggesting. Do you have a storage room or other area that customers don't have access to, where these items of furniture can be kept out of harm's way? Even storing sold goods in your office (space permitting) would be preferable to leaving them out on the floor where they can get damaged or even mistakenly sold again (believe me, this happens!). That way, you can assure the customer that her purchases will be safe with you, while at the same time giving her a financial incentive to take it home as soon as reasonably possible.

01-22-2014, 02:56 AM
I would develop a relationship with a reliable independent delivery service. Then I would create a store policy that all purchases must be picked up with 48 hours (two business days ) or arrangements for delivery will have to be made.
Also state that the store will not be liable for damages to items and that said items would not be protected/treated beyond what the store normally affords in stock floor merchandise.
In other words you are not storing them or guaranteeing the condition just because an item has been sold. The burden is on the buyer to take possession of items he has paid for.

01-28-2014, 12:46 AM
First, I would create a store policy that reads ... "If the customer cannot haul away the desired item, he/she will be required to place at 15% deposit, which can be applied to the purchase price provided the item is picked up in two days. Otherwise, the 15% deposit is non-refundable, and the store can sell the item to another customer."

Anyways, something to that effect, and you have the customer sign it. In a sense, you are addressing the issue of limited space and the incentive of hauling the item.

I would run the "policy" by an attorney to make sure its okay to implement.

Good Luck!

02-03-2014, 11:12 AM
If a delivery service is an option that may be your best idea since you can also charge a fee for this and get it out same day! The delivery fee will be more than your storage fee so you can just have 2 options in your store policy. Pick up now or delivery. This way you don't have to worry about scheduling when they will pick and costing more time and money. If you are scheduling it is to bring in a delivery fee otherwise the furniture is going out the door and not causing you any problems!

02-03-2014, 11:20 AM
I think it is ridiculous for someone to expect you to store it for free past a few days. A week is generous and $4 a day is not a very modest storage fee. I think that once those fees hit the price of the item, it then belongs to you again. Make sure to get it in writing when someone pays for the item and signs a contract if they aren't taking the item right away.

02-03-2014, 12:36 PM
In our area the stores will only hold the item for 24 hours once paid for. They do have a relationship with a delivery service to help deliver the items to the persons home. The service is an additional charge. If the item is left in the store longer than the 24hrs it is for sale again. The store will not take responsibility for any damages done to the items when left in the store. All of these conditions are in writing and posted at the cash register.

02-03-2014, 01:08 PM
I agree with Gordon the computer guy... put a policy in place. Post it in highly visible areas of the store. You could even have it on the receipt. This is totally appropriate.

02-03-2014, 03:47 PM
I would most definitively ask of you to take care of my belongings if I am paying you per day! I think you should really stress to your customers that they should pick up their items and how problematic your store size is! If they get afraid you might sell it to somebody else or get rid of it, they will come much sooner to get it! :D

02-03-2014, 05:26 PM

I think you are correct to charge storage fees after the final transaction. I understand not charging for holding the furniture the first day. That gives the customer a chance to make arrangements for pickup of their purchase. I suggest saying to the person there is a holding fee for the product upon completion of the sale. If you pick up the merchandise by "X" time tomorrow, you will receive your holding fee money back. However if you have not picked up the the furniture after tomorrow, then there is a fee of $4 per day for storage costs.

Supporting this position - you are now liable for merchandise that you sold to a customer. You are losing out on an opportunity to place other merchandise in the place where your customer left his furniture.

Most people know it is ethical to pick up their merchandise within a day unless other arrangements are made between you and them. I think this person is taking advantage of your kindness.

02-07-2014, 05:01 PM
you should give them at least 3 days free storage fee, after that you can charge them like $2 per day, $4 is way too expensive, on the other hand it will forced them to pick up their item.

02-25-2014, 04:45 AM
As a customer, I'm a little spoiled and I think having to worry about those fees and some potential rules might only deter me from purchasing something, but considering that it's a thrift store, there might be a bit more room for compromise. Personally, I'd rather just pay a fee and have you deliver it to my home if it's possible, otherwise, I'd go with what Gipper suggested and just get a sort of security deposit that I would get back once I pick up the item. Still, I think the simplest process would be the best choice for both parties.

03-07-2014, 08:09 PM
I can imagine myself as a customer walking by your store and popping in to have a look around. I see a piece of furniture I like and want to buy it. I pay for it at the time so you don't sell it to someone else, but as I was just walking by, I don't have my vehicle with me. It would be nice to be able to have a couple of days to arrange to pick it up if I need to arrange for a friend with a truck, or I bought it during the week and I wouldn't be able to grab it until the weekend etc.

I would suggest allowing a few days for the removal of the item, but a storage fee after that is not unreasonable. Just make sure to have a policy posted in the store and printed on the receipt so that the customer has no excuse for not knowing. If you can get a phone number or even better an email address to deliver a reminder it would be a good customer service policy.

03-07-2014, 09:10 PM
I think that is more than reasonable, and the customer should expect that. You can't storage their property for free. I also have some business advice for you. If you sell a lot of furniture you should, buy, or rent a truck and deliver the furniture yourself. Then you would be able to charge a delivery fee.

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