The New Sofa and the Gap where it No Longer is

It is not an easy task to buy something in Ireland. In other countries all you need to do is proffer the correct amount of the local currency and remember to carry your goods away with you. In Ireland, the first stage of any transaction involves the sales person trying to talk you out of buying whatever it is you are trying to purchase.

When He Who Knows Everything bought some motor oil, the lady at the garage did her best to convince him to get the low quality stuff because it was cheaper. The bloke at the plumbers’ merchant tried to get me to “save” €60 by buying a less powerful shower pump. He remained unable to accept my certainty regarding the amounts of kilowatts I need in the morning. Even now I expect he thinks of me from time to time, regretting he didn’t try that little bit harder to dissuade me.

Buy something costing more than several hundred euro and it becomes an entirely different story. For a start, anything costing more than several hundred euro will have had several hundred more euro added on to the price to reassure you that you must be very special indeed to be able to afford such a piece of tat. The price of furniture, in particular, is outrageous.
There is also no prospect of bargaining. In the UK, if you are spending a large amount of money, there is usually some room for negotiation either in price or benefit terms. In Ireland, asking what can be done on the price invites the type of look usually reserved for what you scrape off your shoes.
After much thought, I have come to the conclusion it is to do with self esteem. The Irish enjoy paying a premium for badly made, veneered chipboard furniture because it shows everybody else that they are rich enough to afford it. Here I am regarded as scum because I stop about covered in mud and wearing a Barbour wax jacket which has belonged to three people previous to myself; were I in the UK it would be recognised for the badge of distinction it is.

Anyway. Some time ago it was decided to remove the fireplace in the sitting room on account of how, whenever the wind had a direction, plumes of smoke would fountain into the room and cover everything in soot. A stove was duly chosen and a crowbar taken to the existing marble edifice. Apart from a slightly sticky moment during the dismantlement when HWKE and I realised what we had thought to be a mantelpiece in three parts was, in fact, a mantelpiece in four parts and the noise we were hearing was the separation of silicon prior to the fourth part falling onto our toes, it went very well. The new stove is great.
Now that the sofas were no longer consigned to a dusting of black most evenings, or to getting covered in Cat hair, it was decided it might be nice to get some new ones and redecorate the whole room. What we failed to realise was quite how high the premium on a sofa bought in Ireland was.

I don’t mind paying a lot of money for furniture, but if I’m paying a thousand euro for a three seat sofa, I expect the sofa to be worth that amount. Over here, they just aren’t.

After much debate, Mammy and I chose a sofa from a local shop and arranged for it to be delivered at the distant point in the future when the stove had been installed. Once the stove was installed, the sofa was delivered.
Helping the bloke to carry it in (he didn’t have a mate with him) I didn’t notice anything wrong and once he had gone, I got back to whatever triviality I was occupied with. It was only later when I walked through the hall that I noticed it; the smell.
It was dusty and damp smelling. It was an old people smell. It pervaded the whole of the downstairs. It was not good.

Valuing fairness, we gave it 24 hours to dissipate, but it got worse. We rang the shop who spoke to the man in charge of these things. He told us it was the smell of the fireproof spray the manufacturers put on it and instructed us to give it a week in the presence of baking soda. I had always understood it was required to use fireproof fabrics rather that applying a spray afterwards but who am I to doubt the word of the Warehouse Manager?
While the smell did get better, whenever the fabric became warm it could be smelled in the room. For a long time we debated because they were very comfy, but eventually we called the shop and requested that they be taken away again.

It’s hugely annoying and incredibly typical of the shopping experience in Ireland. These sofas were made in China, shipped over and stored in the warehouse for who knows how long. Instead of being properly upholstered, the fabric covering was affixed with Velcro. For this, in the sale I might add, I was expected to pay fifteen hundred euro for a three and a two seater sofa. This was a good deal.
In the UK, you can go in a shop, order a sofa in a size and fabric of your choice and have it delivered direct to your home from factory in which it was made in six to eight weeks. The sofas are made in the UK yet they don’t cost anything like the amount the sofas cost here. It’s ridiculous.

It’s no wonder the Irish economy is in its current crisis. For years, the Irish have delighted in spending more than a product’s worth – the traders have yet to cop on that those times have passed.
I like to spend my money in Ireland and with local businesses if I can but to be honest, I don’t really want to give my money to a company who remain unable to provide good service, reliable products and a competitive pricing structure.
Sorry Ireland, I’ll be sticking with what I’ve got until I can import from the UK.

3 comments:

durdlin said...

That sounds ghastly. But on the bright side, you've got a shiny new template. I like it.

Theo said...

I also like the new template. It makes me look like I know what I'm oing which is always novel. It now has added contact details too!

rosy said...
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