March 13, 2007

ducduc boos

ducduc_pj_dresser.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, I got a familiar-sounding email from a reader I'll call John [because it's his real name], who was worried that his kid might be off to college before his ducduc dresser arrived:

We were expecting our first child, a boy, on 21 November. He finally arrived 4 December, and he's great. In prepping his room, I've built a crib for him out of maple. We ordered a PJ dresser from a local baby store made by ducduc on 26 August 2006. When we placed the order, we were told 12 weeks to delivery, that put delivery right around his delivery date of late November. After the first delivery estimate passed with no word, I contacted the store, and they called ducduc and said that because of a move of manufacturing factories, all orders have been delayed. They said it'd be delivered mid December. Great I thought, in time for the holidays for the family to see. Mid December came and went, I called, and was told mid January was the new, real delivery date. Ok, fine, the holidays, vacations, etc. I can understand, maybe. Mid January came and went, I called the store and was told "ok, 9 February is the real, firm, definite delivery date, written in stone, we swear." I also called ducduc headquarters and spoke to someone in the sales department. She was very apologetic, she too said that 9 February was the final, definite delivery date. She was nice and said she'd kick in a 10% discount on the piece for the trouble. Well, today is 15 February and no dresser. I left messages with the store and with ducduc and I am waiting on a reply.
John's story didn't end there, and it hasn't actually ended yet. The dresser that was delivered was damaged in shipment.

I confess, I've been wrestling with how to post about this, because I'm generally a fan of ducduc, their designs, their people, and much of their underlying philosophy. But in checking around over a few months, I've heard stories of delays and lengthening lead times from a number of retailers and customers, and they weren't going away; John's was one of the most recent and the most extreme.

After initially contracting out their furniture production, they recently opened their own factory in a small town in the Berkshires. If it gets up and running smoothly, that should give them an advantage in managing quality, and local/US production promises a host of social and economic and perceptual benefits that appeal to a lot of people.

From what I can tell, the hardest/slowest has been the casework furniture--dressers and cabinets--which are shipped fully assembled, while cribs and chairs and stuff have been easier/quicker to get a hold of.

But to retailers and customers, everything seemed to be business-as-usual during all these changes. The published lead times haven't changed, and frankly, for made-to-order furniture, they're probably not the issue. John had more than most, but everyone who had a long delay felt the lack of accurate information and unmet promises were the sorest spot, not the lead time. [That said, at least two people told me they would have ordered something else if they'd known it was going to take as long as it did.]

The growing pains ducduc's facing aren't new or unique. I remember hearing about similar snags when Nurseryworks launched, too, but they eventually ironed things out. [Though now, they also warehouse a fair amount of their furniture, too, to buffer against such production.]

If anyone has some relevant advice or experience, whether about dealing with ducduc or another furniture company, definitely share it here. What goes into your decision to buy this or that kind of nursery furniture? How important is made-to-order vs. in-stock/off-the-shelf? Does having a high-design nursery really mean you have to be ready to pull the trigger on four-figure furniture before the 20-week ultrasound?

Update: there's a bit of discussion --including a response from one of the head ducs--at The Nursery@Apartment Therapy, which has images of ducduc's new kids' desks and play furniture from the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. Maybe the factory's just been too busy making samples for decorator shows to fulfill actual orders. I'd love to see the rest of that quote on the wall, too.

at_ducduc_desk.jpg

16 Comments

Hi, this is John, the one with the 7+ month dresser on order. The gestation for the PJ dresser appears to be about as long, maybe longer, than for your new baby, so you may have to order ducduc furniture *before* you conceive if you want it in the nursery when your little bundle of joy arrives.

An update on the dresser from hell. Today is 13 March and a call in to the COO finally seems to have resulted in some action there today. They say it'll be in our house by 13 April, another month of waiting to be disappointed when it doesn't arrive. So if they are able to meet this newly revised (for the *5th* time) delivery estimate, that'll mean that the dresser took close to 8 months from deposit to delivery. But this is all assuming that they're able to make it and deliver it by that date. Past performance on this matter does not make me hopeful.

And the most infuriating thing is that no one there seems to appreciate the level of stress and frustration that this has caused us. No dresser/changing table in his room means HUGE problems with a newborn coming out of the NICU and a wife who's had a C-section. She couldn't bend over, so changing him on the floor wasn't an option, our dresser is a tall chest and the desk was too low as well. There was the kitchen counter at the right height, but that's downstairs from the bedrooms, and c-section recovery limits stair climbing. Never mind the gross factor of changing poop where you have to fix food. And clothes have no where to live, so we had bins scattered on the floor, which the wife couldn't access because of that bending thing again. So the first 3 weeks home were HELL. We finally went out and bought temporary items to fill the needs of the changing table and clothes storage. We've spent more on those temp items than the 10% discount they've offered, so we end up in the hole and still have to wait 8 months.

We love the design, but nothing is worth this frustration. I wouldn't recommend this company to my worst enemy, they've been a nightmare to deal with, and the lack of communication and dishonesty about lead/delivery times is appalling.

How they could have not pissed me off as much:
- be honest about delivery times. If they'd said in November when they missed the original estimate that we wouldn't receive it for 4 more months, we'd have chosen another manufacturer.
-the constant "3-4 weeks more" is INFURIATING. It strings you along and gives you that little glimmer of hope that maybe they aren't really lying to you *this* time.
-the lack of communication is frustrating. *I* was the one that had to call EACH time the dates passed to find out status. Why can't they call me and let me know it'll be delayed, *again*?
-No one there seems to want to call you back. If you don't connect with someone on the phone, don't wait for a return call from them, it'll never happen. This applies to the operator voicemail box, the national sales rep and even with the CEO. Messages left for those people have not been returned, I've had to continue to call until I get a hold of someone there. Messages from customers apparently don't merit a response call. Return a customer's call!
-have staff that sound sincere when they say sorry. The tone in dealing with them has been "that sucks for you. but it's not *our* fault." You're the manufacturer, with your own manufacturing facilities, take some responsibility.

It's been a nightmare. And it continues to go on, unfortunately. Should we cancel the order now and try to get our 50% deposit back? What about those 7 months we've waited? All in vain? And now have to wait another 12 weeks for another manufacturer to make and deliver a piece? What if they really can deliver it by the date they've told us this time? Wouldn't that be faster than canceling and ordering anew with someone else? These are the questions we face. A nightmare. Nightmare. NIGHTMARE!

"they recently opened their own factory in a small town in the Berkshires"

They must have a high tolerance for pain.

The answer from one of the ducs on the Apartment Therapy site sounded a bit pat and insincere, to be honest.

Get a refund and buy a dresser that's in stock and ready to ship.

i especially enjoy when you do call their general number, you get a pretentious message about a "new aesethic for a new generation." stuff like that makes me cringe. fine, have a "philosophy" or an "aesthetic," but more importantly make the damn furntiture properly in a timely manner, don't break it when you ship it, and for christ's sake call people back if you screw up their order (or call them before you screw up!) if you can't hack this, as daddy type suggested, stop designing new pieces and hocking them at trade shows until you get your act together. While waiting on my MIA furniture, I've heard 3-4 weeks too many times to mention, and its too tedious to go over all the times i've called and dealt with these people. needless to say, i live in a building and a neighborhood with lots of people having kids and buying modern furniture and i would never never never recommend they buy from duc duc.

I have a retail store and I can write a book on all the things that went wrong with all my orders with them. I had clients that waited 10-14 weeks and then were told that it would be another 14 weeks, and then 2 more weeks and then it would come in broken or the paint smelled. They NEVER call me back, never help me be able to help clients by giving them lenders. i have had the store for 5 years and have never worked with such a BAD company. Its one thing when things are running late or you have "issues" with Plant but a whole other to be honsest with people and try to help them and just maybe if its not to much TO CALL PEOPLE BACK.

That just sounds horrible. The apology on Apartment Therapy sounds so canned and insincere. And it does seem particularly egregious that they're producing all these new furniture lines for show casing purposes when they can't even get the products people have already ordered and paid for shipped in a timely manner.

We've gotten several things from duc duc at different times...a dresser, a playtable, a crib...and really never had a problem other than maybe slightly longer wait times than other companies. It sounds to me like they're going through some issues with the manufacturing switch but all I can say is they're worth it. We love our stuff and our kids love it too. Plus I love the fact that when my kid is gnawing on the crib rail, I'm sure she's not going to die from all the chemicals in the wood/paint.

[the real question, of course, did you order them at the same time? kidding kidding. thanks for the firsthand account. -ed.]

I am a retailer and I carried Duc Duc for a brief time. I have never had such bad luck and service with any line before. When I questioned them about what lead times they felt comfortable in quoting people, one person responded with, "12-14 weeks". I personally have not placed one piece of their furniture in under 6-7 months. When pieces finally came in they were damaged. I should have known this would be an issue when our store received our floor pieces late and at different times. On one order, I needed a crib and a changer and there were always two different delivery dates. So since they were both delayed I asked if we could just hold one piece and ship both pieces together and the answer was no. They both have continued to be two different delivery times. I have yet to see these pieces that we ordered in Oct.
We, as retailers, have had just as hard of a time getting info and phone calls back in a timely fashion. They have run so far behind that I finally asked them to contact all of our clients and offer them an opportunity to cancel because it is completely unacceptable that these clients have babies on the way and no time frame as to when furniture will come. I would never....ever....reccommend this line to anyone.
Everytime I see them at a trade show it makes me furious that they are still trying to write new orders when they still have yet to fill orders from months ago. Good luck to anyone waiting!

Hi, I too placed an order (paid in full) 5+ months ago and have yet to receive my DucDuc bed. Every night I answer endless questions from my son about when his "Big Boy" bed will arrive. Why didn't it come by Valentine's Day? Why didn't it come by my sister's birthday? Why didn't it come by Easter? etc. We still don't have a credible delivery date and I am seriously considering entering formal complaints with the Better Business Bureau and with the FTC. DucDuc should be held accountable for this behavior.

It seems like all of ducduc's cribs have fixed side rails--which means you cannot use the great bedskirt that comes with all of the crib sets they sell. We also considered the Netto collection cribs, but they also have fixed side rails. Does anyone see a way around this, so that we can make use of the $350 crib set we bought? :) Without having received the crib yet, we don't know whether we can still use the crib skirt with a crib that has fixed side rails. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks.

i would stronlgy advise against ordering anything from ducduc unless you don't mind waiting a full year for your delivery. The company has no regard for their customers. I have heard numerous horror stories of dealing with this scam.. ahem.. i mean company. Once you pay for your item, they will delay and delay and delay your shipment and avoid contacting you like the plague.

[uh, thanks for the hyperbolic, non-specific, thirdhand, anonymous advice! -ed.]

wow, i have never seen so many people bash a company so badly. My wife and i ordered an entire room from ducduc and have been pleased with our entire experience. Yes, it took @ 3 weeks longer to deliver than we were originally quoted, but we understood that hand-made furniture would take longer than other companies who warehouse. The room looks great and we get endless compliments. I think they have made some great progress over the last several months.

we try do not give up i make alot of this baybe room ideas and i can say it is worth ever penny we make alot worth wile things don'nt give up duc duc is world class it just needs time to prove it self as a leader in it own class

My name is Dan, and I recently worked as ducduc's primary driver to deliver to NYC from our shop in torrington for the past year. I just wanted to let you guys know how things work in that shop. It is staffed entirely by half-skilled "craftsman" who cant even seem to make furniture when given all the templates and pre-made pieces bought from other manufacturers. The quality is low, the paint chips within a week or so, there will be corners with no paint, there will be dings in it. The people making your furniture care about as little as a guy you might find on the street. It is thrown together quickly, and if there is a quality issue, it is hidden as best as possible, not necessarily fixed. The wait time is absurd, there is no reason. At all times there were dozens of orders done and ready to be shipped, but they would sit there for months, and collect dust, get knocked into, and take other various forms of damage. Be very wary when ordering from ducduc.

yes they look great, if they'd ever deliver the items. There are lots of horror stories about this company online -- I should have paid attention. I've been so frustrated with their lack of customer service that I've created a website about it. www.ducducsucks.com.

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