What The Heck Is White Glove Shipping???
By Dirty Girls Restoration, Jan 3 2018 03:38PM
Shipping is the part of our business that takes up the most time. It is what we receive the most questions on, the thing we end up explaining the most to customers, the thing we take the most scrutiny on, and the one thing that is most misunderstood by customers.
It's not the customers' fault, shipping is a highly confusing thing in this day and age with mega online retailers offering to ship you a "New" Mid Century Style sofa for FREE right to your door. Of course it came in a box and needs some assembly (and some air to poof out), but hey - its a sofa....and it's free shipping! Or another large online retailer will deliver their custom made "New" Mid Century Style sofa to you (white glove) for only $99....that's a hell of a deal, you just have to pay $1800 for their sofa.
So yeah, it's no great surprise that majority of our time is spent explaining shipping, getting quotes, answering questions and fielding confusion in regards to shipping. Here's the thing....that sofa you assembled with free shipping right to your door that has great reviews. Those reviews were prompted to be given within a week or 2 of the customer receiving the item. Sure "it looks good", "exactly what they need for their space".........however, they actually need to do reviews for those items a year, or 2 years, or 5 years down the line. Because in our experience of people buying those sofas, and then buying ours a year or 2 later.....that free shipping "New" Mid Century Style sofa has completely fallen apart. The frame breaks, the fabric rips, it's worthless after a couple years. Why? Because most "New" Mid Century Style sofas and new furniture in general is made cheaply out of mass produced products and pressed wood (fiberboard) construction. Of course that doesn't hold up or retain any value. You're not going to "will" the sofa you just had delivered from Mega Store X to your kids after you die. Nor are you going to be collecting furniture made by Mega Store X 50 years from now.
Even the higher end "custom made" brand new Mid Century Style companies - their products don't hold up or retain value like authentic, solid wood frame Mid Century furniture that is still around and gaining value 50-60+ years after it was manufactured. That custom made sofa that was delivered white glove to your door for $99 and you paid $1800 for....how much do you think it cost them to make that sofa? I can tell you it's no where near $1800. By contrast, when we fully restore an authentic Mid Century sofa (not an iconic designer sofa), just a one piece sofa (like they are selling) we sell it anywhere from $750-900. White glove shipping on a sofa to the most expensive areas of the country such as NYC or LA on a straight sofa is between $400-600. So if we charged our customers $1800 for that same sofa plus $99 shipping we'd not only be making money on the sofa but on the shipping as well....but you'd never know that. All you'd see is the deal you'd be getting on shipping. But heck, I'm comparing apples and oranges, because again - what you buy for $1800 brand new is no where near the quality of the sofa that was made 50+ years ago of solid wood and high quality metals......More money for less quality or less money for high quality?? hmmm....
But I digress....let's get back to shipping. Here are the real world shipping options: For smaller items such as dining chairs, art, lamps, etc...they can usually be shipped Fedex or LTL. This is a personal preference but we never (and I mean never) use UPS. We did in the past and then we stopped because not one, but every single shipment that went UPS ended up at our customers door in pieces. So no, we will never again ship anything big or small UPS. Fedex has been great and we use them frequently.
As an example of small furniture shipping - let's say you ask us for a shipping quote on 6 dining chairs. We quote with Fedex (packing 2 chairs per box), we quote with LTL (packing 2 chairs per box), and we quote with anywhere from 2-3 white glove shippers depending upon location. With Fedex and LTL we have to include the cost of packing (which is not cheap). The cost of boxes, packing material, foam and tape is expensive in and of themselves let alone the labor to pack furniture for shipment. We have a great relationship with our packers and get discount pricing but you can expect the cost to professionally pack 6 dining chairs in 3 boxes to be $120-150.
Greyhound shipping - Just to note we offered Greyhound as an option for 5 years however they recently stopped insuring shipments so that is no longer an option we offer or quote with. We wrote a full blog post on Greyhound shipping if you would like specifics on this method.
LTL (Less Than Truckload) - This is a great option and it is usually the least expensive. The item (big or small) is packed/crated for shipment and then delivered to your home or business on average 5-15 days after packing. The least expensive option is curbside delivery, meaning they schedule a delivery appointment with you and deliver to your curb or door. You are required to bring it inside, unpack and dispose of the packing materials. They also offer inside delivery and inside white glove delivery for higher fees.
Fedex ground is another option for smaller items. Fedex is great as long as you don't go over their max "ground" dimensions and it slips into freight mode. Shipping anything large Fedex (or UPS) freight is pointless. The cost is always at least 3-6x's what our white glove shippers charge. As an example, a lounge chair is too big for regular Fedex ground. Our white glove shippers would charge $300-450 to ship a lounge chair cross country. Fedex (or UPS) freight would be $1200-1800 to ship that same chair cross country. It's just insane and pointless. So, Fedex ground is great for the items that are small enough to ship that way, (but usually more expensive than LTL). 6 dining chairs cross country Fedex ground would be around $400-600 (average) plus $120 packing.
White Glove Shippers usually specialize in a particular type of cargo. We use white glove shippers that only ship furniture. They will blanket wrap, ship, insure and deliver inside your home. Some will place it where you want it, some will assemble it for you (for an extra fee) if assembly is required. Most white glove quotes include inside delivery 1st floor only (unless in NYC or other such areas). Depending upon the company, if you want your dresser carried upstairs and placed in your bedroom you can ask them to do that for an extra fee, but their delivery service is usually strictly to bring what you ordered inside your home.
White glove shippers do not have tracking and their average delivery time is 4-6 weeks. That is standard. They don't provide tracking because their schedule is dominated by the availability of the customer. So if you have to pick up your son from soccer or take your dog to the groomer or can't get off work to meet the shipper....the shipper has to work around all that to find a mutually agreed upon time to deliver your item. That means their schedule changes daily. They can't give you a day/time for delivery weeks ahead, it's just not possible. White glove shippers will call you a day or 2 before delivery (once they are in your area of the country) to setup a delivery window with you. We have customers complain that they don't hear anything for a month after they purchase.. That's because we quoted (and you agreed to) a 4-6 week delivery time and that's how long it takes. Period. We can't give you tracking that doesn't exist and our shippers would absolutely hate us if we bothered them every week asking ETA for the 20+ deliveries on their truck that are determined by customer availability. So, believe us when we say - you will get a call from the shipper when they reach your area, and your item will be delivered in the timeframe quoted. Anything more than that is just not possible. If for some reason weather, wildfires, or other such events (which are out of anyone's control) delays the shipper past the quoted timeframe, they will let us know and we pass that information onto our customer.
We do use one white glove shipper that does offer "tracking", however it's not really tracking. They just populate dates when the item reaches the regional terminal and then they populate an estimated ETA to the customer, but it is more often than not, inaccurate. Again, accurate day/time tracking is just not possible with white glove freight shipping. Also, white glove shippers only have a few trucks that run the entire country (or section of the country) as opposed to small package shippers that have 50+ trucks in one metropolitan area. With that said, the average cost for a chair or 1pc sofa cross country via white glove shipping is average $400-650. Closer deliveries $280-350. White glove shippers will not ship anything, anywhere for less than $280. That is their starting price.
We always help our customers with shipping costs, but if you get an initial quote of less than $280 and you are in a surrounding state to us, it is because we have worked out a discounted price with the shipper for more local deliveries.
Dining chairs will always be more expensive to ship white glove than a sofa, even though they are much smaller and weigh a lot less. The reason is the shipper has to individually pack multiple items and come in/go out of our shop and your home multiple times to complete the delivery, which means more time and higher cost. 6 dining chairs cross country white glove is between $450-750 average depending upon shipper and location. Winter months bring higher quotes for northern states as well.
Lastly is the "you put in your info and we will match you with a shipper" online companies....which will go un-named. We have always provided shipping quotes to our customers, but in our earlier days we allowed customers to setup their own shipping. Notoriously they would ALWAYS choose this option...because it's cheaper (but not really)....and it was always, without exception...a disaster. In our experience this option is a guy and his brother that got laid off from their jobs, piled their money together, bought a 20yr old retired milk truck and are now "shippers". They have no idea what they are doing, they don't come with any packing materials, blankets, etc......they quite literally just put your Designer Mid Century furniture on the truck next to someone else's dirt bike and lawn mower and hope for the best. They might have a couple tie downs and that's about it. Or it's 1 guy with a truck. How does 1 guy move a dresser? Or a sofa? He doesn't. So yeah - we don't allow our items to ship any other way now than our approved shippers, via our approval process. That way if any damage occurs during shipping, the responsibility falls on us and never the customer.
Here's the takeaway.....1) It costs more to ship you a sofa than it does to ship you a t-shirt. 1a) We don't elevate our prices to include free or cheap shipping. 2) When you request a shipping quote, a lot of work goes into it. We always quote with 3-5 different shippers on every item depending upon location. That's a lot of time typing up quotes and following up with both shippers and customers considering we get (on average) 2-6 quote requests per day. 2a) The time to get back shipping quotes is anywhere from 3 to 24 hours. 3) The timeframe you were quoted and agreed to is when it will be delivered. Period. We can't give you tracking and you can't "pay extra" for expedited shipping. It doesn't work like that. Trust you will get a call from the shipper when it is supposed to be delivered. 4) Lastly, we are not shippers! They are completely separate companies from us, Dirty Girls Restoration is not affiliated with any shipping company. I cannot stress that enough! Yes we utilize their services the same way you utilize Fedex. When Fedex picks up a package from you, you have no control over what happens to it once it is in their hands. Same with us. We do not own a shipping company and we have no control over shipping company employees. We are sorry you had a bad delivery experience, but when you are leaving a review for us, it should ONLY be for us...what we can control - our company, our product, our customer service. The service of the shipper falls on no one else but the shipper.
We have great relationships with all of our shippers and could not run our business without them, they do great things and sacrifice their lives and family moving freight around the country. We cannot thank them enough and to our customers - we hope this has offered a bit of clarity into what goes on behind the scenes. We are always working for our customers!