Shopping: Check it Out; Mail Order Sofas and Beds

FED UP with traipsing round stores looking for an end-of-sale bargain? You could have been wasting your time as you can buy a sofa or bed through mail order catalogues for considerably less than the "full price" store items. And their year-round sales mean you don't have to make an impulse buy you may later regret.

Small ads are full of sofas and wrought iron beds for around the pounds 300 mark (expect to pay at least double in the high street), but can you trust the quality?

Sofa Workshop Direct is the mail order arm of its bespoke, high street stable mate, Sofa Workshop. The former advertises sofas for just over pounds 300, the latter sells custom-made models from pounds 699. The mail order sofa is cheaper, as it is only available in a limited range of fabrics and styles, the cushion interiors are standard, and it's guaranteed for three instead of 10 years for the custom-made version. What you see in the brochure is what you get, factory born and bred.

You also have the advantage of a 21-day money back guarantee if you change your mind after delivery, as long as the furniture is returned in mint condition. "We do have some returns, but it's generally because the sofa is too big for the room, or the colour didn't match the decor," says Sofa Workshop Direct managing director, Euan Kelway-Bamber.

The company is aware that its showroom, alongside its factory in Wales, has helped customers make their final decision. "People like the fabric samples they are sent in the post, but something holds them back. There's a general misapprehension that anything mail order is cheap and nasty, but they're always pleasantly surprised at the quality they are getting for the price."

Low overheads and limited choice give the mail order manufacturer the edge on price. As does furniture that can be paid for on delivery, instead of weeks in advance.

There's nothing like a good sales pitch to get customers rushing to place their order. Special deals from "cancelled orders" seem to run and run.

Cannock Direct is currently having a "factory clearance" of double wrought- iron beds in a choice of three styles for pounds 245 each, including delivery. But how can you gauge the quality of a mail order bed? Fabric samples are easy to view by post, but assessing an iron bed is a bit more difficult.

The Handcrafted Bed Company sends customers metal samples in any one of the 12 finishes they produce. Marketing director Jacqueline Hughes says a well-designed brochure increases sales. "Mail order is becoming more acceptable, but you can't expect to sell stock from scrappy line drawings." A recent client survey showed that 40 per cent of their customers are professionals with a high disposable income and limited time for shopping.

Seductive magazine-style directories devoted to interiors are a far cry from the big-book catalogues full of underwear and nylon bedspreads. Most firms also have 24-hour order lines and websites to make the customer's life even easier. Some people just haven't got the time to struggle round the shops any more.

The high street stores know that they cannot be left behind. Many now offer a mail order facility: convenient it may be, but it's not necessarily for the bargain hunter.

Fiona Brandhorst

Sofa Workshop Direct (01443 238 699 *), www.sofaworkshopdirect.co.uk; Cannock Direct (01543 462 500 *), www.cannock.gate.uk.com; Handcrafted Bed Company (0115 965 6575 *)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Life and Style
A general view during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Earl's Court exhibition centre on 2 December, 2014 in London, England
fashionIt's not all about the catwalks: the big changes of the past year can be summed up in six clothing items
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

    Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

    £25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?