Slow Boat From China

The big event is a few months away.  Everything is planned.  Because you will use this space for entertaining throughout the year, rental isn’t cost effective.  So, you commit to buy the tables, chairs and custom linens. 

You want the perfect chairs.  You find a reputable vendor with the frames and upholstery you want and are told “10-12 weeks.”  Checking the calendar, yes, it’s cutting a bit close, but “10-12 weeks” will work.

What you didn’t know is that  “10-12 weeks” is production time.  ONLY production time.  Just because you have selected a US manufacturer, doesn’t mean the chairs are made in the US.  In fact, they are made in China.  And 10-12 weeks doesn’t cover time through the overseas port, time on the water, time through the US port and then shipping to you.  What was supposed to be 10-12 weeks is now 16-20 weeks.

Upon discovery of the time “miscalculation,” you turn to the vendor contract to determine how to  cancel the order.  Unfortunately, once the deposit is made, no orders may be refunded.

So you rent the chairs for the event (because you have to sit on something) and wait.  And wait. And wait. 23 weeks later, you get a phone call letting you know that your chairs have arrived in the country and will NOW be shipped to you.

The lesson learned is that every contract, be it with construction of a house or custom chairs, needs to have a penalty against the vendor if the goods or work is not delivered on time.  My “yes man” of a salesman knew my deadline and allowed me to misconstrue the production time as the total time needed to conclude the transaction.  Had there been a clause in the contract that protected me, I guarantee you, my goods wouldn’t have been on a slow boat from China in the middle of my big event.

Kimberly Varney

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