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Joy Of Online Shopping For Your Home Involves Dents

When Americans decided to sit back in their Lazy Boy chairs over the past couple of years to ride out the pandemic, something remarkable happened.

Folks started ordering billions of dollars of stuff online—furniture, bath and kitchen items, gardening supplies, designer clothing, fancy gym shoes, perfume, lipstick, Viagra and every other consumer item imaginable.

Based on this writer’s personal experience, America’s truck, train and airplane delivery systems were not up to the challenge, especially on those bulky items shipped by truck from the warehouse and aimed for a “room of choice.”

This past week we had home-delivery disasters that seemed like they were cursed by the wrath of Donald Trump’s entourage.

Everything arrived damaged. It were as if Bushman—the legendary Lincoln Park Zoo gorilla—had used our home deliveries as play things in his cage. In 1950, Bushman, the 550-pound gorilla, was noted for bouncing auto tires off of his cage walls.

Believe it or not, these are the facts:

Vanity-top disaster

Shopping online, my wife ordered a handsome 48-inch-wide bathroom vanity on The lure? The vanity was well priced—at about $1,100—a few hundred dollars under the competition. After a few weeks, the 200-pound white vanity cabinet and its gray cultured marble top arrived at our house.

We paid $20 in advance to have the truckers haul the box to the proper level of the house, and tipped the workers another $20. The following day, when my carpenter opened the box, the marble top was crushed in three pieces like a broken cookie. It looked as if it had been thrown off the truck by Bushman.

Replacement vanity-top disaster

Trying to speed up the installation, we went to Menard’s in Morton Grove to find a replacement 48-inch vanity top. We purchased a nice one for $220, and sent our carpenter to pick it up.

Later, when the carpenter opened the box, he discovered the corner of the replacement top was chipped—obviously another Bushman disaster. Luckily there was a similar replacement top in stock, so we only lost three man-hours during the top-hunting adventure.

However, we had to stand in the “return line” and wait to get a credit for the damaged item.

Medicine-cabinet disaster

The next day, we ordered delivery of two 36-inch wall-hung, mirrored medicine cabinets from Lowe’s. Cost about $320 for the pair.

These are the basic three-mirrored medicine cabinet design used by landlords across the city. The online description of the “Tri-View” cabinet cheerfully states: “Fully assembled for easy installation, you’ll be well on your way to creating your ideal bath with all the storage you need. Plus, it comes with a five-year limited warranty.”

Well, when our carpenter arrived to hang the cabinets, upon opening the boxes, he discovered that both were damaged—one with a shattered mirror, the other with a crushed frame.

Our mistake was ordering online. This created the chance that some “delivery professional” earning $15 an hour would toss our online home product off of a loading dock, or bounce it off a truck or dolly, creating an unusable pile of rubble.

The happy ending occurred when Lowe’s offered to replace the damaged medicine cabinets, which allegedly were in stock. All we had to do was haul the damaged items back to the store, wait in the “return line” for a while, and buy the same cabinets.

Unfortunately, the popular cabinets were not in-stock. They are on back order at all of the local stores until January of 2023. The moral of this home-renovation story is the following—our “Rehab Survival Rules”:

  • Hire your own trusted crew with a truck, or rent a U-Haul. Then, go to the store and choose the in-stock home product you wish to buy.

  • Ask your workers to open the box before you purchase, and inspect the product for damage. Personally escort the item to your truck and deliver it home.

  • Never, never buy a product that has been previously opened and re-sealed.

  • And, don’t forget to call home-repair expert Bob Vila for more advice.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit


“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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