Nest Furniture in Lincoln Nebraska Lost My Business Today

  • Comments: 26
  • Written on: February 7th, 2009


Lincoln, Nebraska is the 7th best metropolitan economy in the country right now.  That is a good thing for Nest Furniture, because with their poor customer service I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still around next year.

Maybe the owner was having a bad day.  Maybe his dog died.  Maybe he had a fight with his wife just before we came in.  The point of this post is that NONE OF THAT MATTERS.  Small businesses need to understand that the quality of their service – especially in an industry as competitive as furniture – is what separates failure from success.

Here is the situation my wife and I encountered at Nest Furniture today as we tried to give them $500 for a pair of tables for our new service center.  Needless to say, our order has been canceled and we will not be back again.  How would you have handled this one?

Bad Service Personified

Schrock Innovations is building a new computer repair service center in Lincoln, NE.  We found some unique display tables for laptops at a local odds-and-ends store called Nest Furniture.

My wife Kim placed two metal tables on hold in January for a total of $500.  We didn’t have a truck with us that day, so I offered to send in a check if they would hold the tables until early February when we open the new location.

The owner gave me a ticket for the tables marked with free delivery to our new location and C.O.D. terms.  Seeing the C.O.D. terms, I did not send a check (because C.O.D. means Cash on Delivery and they were delivering them in early February)

My wife and I stopped in today to let them know we are ready to take delivery of the tables. The owner told me that he had canceled our order because he had not received a check in January.  I was a little surprised and reminded him that our ticket said C.O.D.

I figured we had a misunderstanding, and it wasn’t a big deal since he still had the tables and I still wanted them.  So I asked him to deliver them to our new address on Monday so they would be ready for our Tuesday opening.

Just Hand Over the Money

The owner’s tone changed, he cocked his head and said no, “I’ll tell you what.  You bring me a check and then we will deliver them.”

I was a little taken aback by his tone, but I figured it was understandable since he thought we had promised him a check once and then didn’t follow through.  I did not have a company check book with me at that moment, so I asked him again if he would mind delivering them on Monday and I could give him a check when he dropped them off.

At that his face grimaced, he took a stern tone and told me since we had screwed him over once he was not going to do anything until we brought him money.  “You just bring a check in on Monday and then we will deliver them when we have time.”

This situation falls into the “you had to be there” category because the tension was thick enough to see hanging in the air.  I felt myself getting angry, so I decided there was nothing to do until Monday anyway, so I turned to leave.

The Email Response

Tonight I sent Nest Furniture this email:

After the way my wife and I were treated in your store this afternoon, we are canceling our order for the two metal tables we wanted.  We will be ordering the tables from IKEA, like we did with the rest of our furniture.

I understand that there was a miscommunication – you thought I was sending a check for the tables, and I saw COD on our ticket and assumed you wanted cash on delivery.  Either way, you still had the tables today and I still wanted them.  There was no need to treat my wife and I like we were some kind of scam artists trying to steal two metal tables from you.

I don’t carry a ledger checkbook with me, and when I build an $830,000 service center I don’t just whip my credit card out to buy things.  Everything is done with a purchase order so it can be tracked.

I don’t know if something bad happened to you right before we came in, but anytime two customers who WANT to spend money in your store leave cursing your name, that is not a good thing for business.

I was further offended because that very morning I gave your business a 5 minute commercial during our Compute This radio show about how Nest was the place to go to find one-of-a-kind furniture pieces.  Over 20,000 people heard that spot in Lincoln, and probably a few hundred more on the internet through Twitter and Facebook.  I was upset because I had lent your operation the credibility of my reputation.

I don’t want anything from you.  No apology, no discounts, no tables – that is not what this is about.  I just want to let you know how your attitude today lost you $500, a ton of positive goodwill, and an active friend in the local business community.

One of the reasons that Schrock Innovations has grown so much more quickly than other computer repair companies in our market is because we know that creating satisfied customers means everything.  The customer’s satisfaction is what matters – without it nothing else can happen.

There are always situations that are beyond salvaging, but this was not one of them.  The way Nest is doing business may fly on the West Coast, but the owner has a lot to learn about doing business in Nebraska.

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