- Customers of furniture store Freedom have expressed their anger and frustration after waiting months for items they ordered.
- Customers told Business Insider Australia they have experienced lengthy delivery times, difficulty finding out what happened to their orders, and – in some cases – they haven't received their orders at all.
- Freedom blames the problems on a new order management system at its Australian and New Zealand stores.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Dozens of customers of the furniture giant Freedom are furious after being left for months without products, due to extremely lengthy delivery times, items going missing and poor customer service. The company argues it is simply an ordering system issue.
The five customers who spoke to Business Insider Australia detailed the frustration they felt after waiting up to six months for items that weren't delivered, and conveyed their anger over being unable to contact customer service or get definitive answers on the whereabouts of their products.
Freedom attributes the stock issues to a new 'Order Management Software' (OMS) system it has been rolling out in its Australian and New Zealand stores since October. A Freedom spokesperson told Business Insider Australia in an email the OMS software is "provided by a reputable & global Tier 1 IT vendor". Freedom's official technology partner is IBM, who refused to comment for this story.
The Freedom spokesperson told Business Insider Australia via email the company has been "aware of and managing" the issue since the fourth quarter of 2019. However, some of the customers said their issues have been ongoing since June.
Lengthy wait times and a new ordering system
Multiple freedom customers say they've been waiting more than six months for items they ordered.
Sophie Watt, a customer of the Freedom store in Frankston, Victoria told Business Insider Australia she and her husband didn't receive their bed from Freedom after ordering it back in June 2019. At the time Watt was told it would take between 20 to 22 weeks to come in, taking the delivery to November.
In October, Watt checked on her order with Freedom and was told the company wasn't able to find the order due to an update to Freedom's ordering system. The Freedom representative told Watt the bed was not in stock but would hopefully return "sometime in December". When December came, she still didn't receive contact from Freedom.
"By this point, I was so frustrated and over it that my husband started dealing with it," Watt said. Eventually, the Watts opted for a refund, which they received in January.
Andrea Cho, a Freedom customer from Perth, was also informed of lengthy wait times for her items and an issue with the company's OMS.
Cho and her husband had ordered dining chairs and a side table from Freedom Osborne Park around September 2019, which cost more than $1500. But after months of waiting, they still hadn't received their items.
"They told us at that time that [the order] will need to get shipped over so it'll take about nine weeks for the chairs and maybe eight weeks for the table," Cho told Business Insider Australia.
Cho agreed. But after a nine week wait and no delivery, the couple called the Freedom online number to inquire after her order. The number transferred them to "an offshore customer service centre", which didn't seem to have any details about the order.
"They asked us for all the details of what we bought and when because I don't think they actually had a record that they could look up," Cho told Business Insider Australia. Following this, they called the Osborne Park store where they were told of an issue with the company's ordering system but no one could give them an indication of when their furniture would be in.
In December, Cho kept calling Freedom and even made a complaint on Facebook. On a later attempt to contact the company in December, she was told she wouldn't receive her order for another four months. Eventually, they opted to get a refund. In January, Cho advised Business Insider Australia they had finally received it.
Freedom's order management system
Freedom has consistently blamed its order management system for the ongoing issues – and continued to do so when contacted by Business Insider Australia and presented with customer complaints.
In October 2019, around the time complaints initially trickled in to the company, Freedom released a statement, explaining that it's rolling out a new order management software (OMS) across its Australian and New Zealand operations.
The company explained its OMS is "designed to manage Freedom’s stock movement from end-to-end, including allocation of stock and processing and completion of customer orders" but claimed "some short term issues" have affected orders.
"Despite our best endeavours for a smooth transition from our legacy systems, Freedom is experiencing some short-term issues which have impacted the fulfilment of some customer orders," Freedom said in a statement.
"This includes some home deliveries, availability of some stock in certain areas and speed of delivery of new stock. Freedom unreservedly apologises to any customers who may have been impacted by these issues."
Freedom added at the time that it was working with its partners to address the issues, despite issues not being addressed months later.
"Freedom and its distribution partners at Unitrans are urgently addressing the system issues and have both its internal team and outside tier 1 vendors working around the clock to resolve them," the company said in a statement.
Freedom has also posted a note to customers on its website:
Some customers doubt Freedom's explanation, claiming the issue existed before October.
Watt said the worst part of the issue was Freedom placed the blame on its ordering system, when her problem had been ongoing since June. "The new ordering system should never have affected our order," she said.
When asked why some customers have had issues with their orders prior to October, a Freedom Australia spokesperson told Business Insider Australia in an email, "We have a small number of customers that continue to be impacted by the transition to our new order management system; unfortunately, a number of these customers pre-date the OMS rollout and we are working through resolution measures with these impacted customers."
'Zero customer service'
Multiple customers have also expressed their dissatisfaction with Freedom's customer service. They claim it is hard for them to get in touch with the company about their missing orders.
Jo-Ann Lennon from New South Wales said she has been unable to get in touch with Freedom over a side table she ordered but is still yet to receive.
Lennon told Business Insider Australia in an email she purchased two items online on September 28 – a side table and a framed canvas – totalling $524.50. While she received the print, Lennon still hasn't got her side table.
She said she has contacted Freedom "numerous times", even calling both the Moore Park and Auburn store, but claims "no one ever answers the phone" or has called her back in regards to her order.
"I have spoken to 4 different people all of whom say 'someone will get back to you ASAP'," Lennon added. "They never do. I have asked for management's details, and have been told that all Freedom customer service representatives are told they are not allowed to provide that information, which I find bizarre. Basically they block you from raising concerns at a higher level."
A Freedom spokesperson, however, told Business Insider Australia the company has been communicating to its customers about the issues via email, phone and through its stores since early October.
"In addition, Freedom established a call centre and escalation team to manage impacted customers [and] this team is still operational today to help with customer order resolution," the spokesperson said.
Some customers have had deliveries with missing items
Customers have also expressed anger at being unable to get the items they ordered from Freedom, due to them going missing or being told the items are discontinued.
Matt, who only provided his first name as he was concerned it would affect his delivery, told Business Insider Australia he hasn't received one of the bedside tables he ordered. He had ordered two Bayswater bedside tables and one set of Bayswater bedside drawers in July from the Freedom store in Richmond, Victoria, totalling $1,200.
He knew it would be a 12 week wait, which he accepted. When he received his delivery in November, he only got one bedside table and the chest of drawers. Upon being contacted, Freedom said it "couldn't work out" the location of Matt's other bedside table.
"They don't know where it is and they haven't been able to track it down, and no one's been able to work out what's going on or when it will come," Matt said. He added that it has been "very frustrating."
Matt called the store numerous times, before asking for a refund. The Freedom representative told him they would have to check in the system but never returned Matt's call.
In its statement about the OMS, Freedom said it has implemented "customer resolution measures" such as "identifying and contacting impacted customers to determine the best options to fulfil their outstanding order" via email and SMS. The company also offered to compensate its customers.
"Freedom will offer impacted customers compensation for the delay they may have experienced including waiving delivery charges; where a satisfactory solution is not possible, the customer will have the option to cancel their order and receive a full refund," the statement said.
In relation to the refunds, a Freedom spokesperson told Business Insider Australia in an email, "We have been and remain committed to refunds on a no-question basis for any impacted customers," they said. "We will continue to honour any outstanding legitimate claims for refund."
Vivian Vasilopoulos is another customer who hasn't yet received her items from Freedom. In fact, she was told most of the furniture she ordered had been discontinued.
After ordering more than $5,000 worth of furniture from a Freedom store in Chadstone, Victoria in October, Vasilopoulos was told most of her items would be delivered in four weeks, with a large couch arriving in February. The initial delivery didn't arrive when promised, and when she headed into a store in December, the lack of communication was blamed on issues with Freedom's call centres.
"I'm getting angrier and angrier because I'm just not getting any information," she said.
Vasilopoulos wrote a review about Freedom on Product Review, before receiving a call from a Freedom representative who told her almost all of the items had been discontinued and were no longer available. The couch, however, was ready to be delivered. However, the delivery company Unitrans called Vasilopoulos later, telling her they did not have anything to deliver to her after all.
"They said that they can't actually assist me because they're not Freedom," Vasilopoulos said. "Freedom is overcommitting bookings." Unitrans told Vasilopoulos that Freedom is booking deliveries "but not providing them the stock".
Unitrans and Freedom are both owned by parent company Greenlit Brands. Business Insider Australia has contacted Unitrans numerous times for comment but has not received a response.
A Freedom spokesperson said the delays on products were caused by the company being a "lead-time business".
"Our handcrafted sofas are predominantly made to order on lead times up to 12 weeks," they said. "Unfortunately customers that purchased in the three months leading up to the rollout were impacted by the system issues."
More than 100 complaints to Fair Trading
NSW Fair Trading has received 168 complaints about Freedom Furniture since January 1 2017. The complaints generally relate to a delay or failure to supply, defective or unsatisfactory goods, warranties and refunds.
Freedom has also made it onto the NSW Fair Trading Complaints Register twice.
"In the last two years Freedom Furniture has appeared on the Fair Trading complaints register twice with 11 complaints in February 2018, and 14 complaints in November 2019, 13 of which related to supply issues," a NSW Fair Trading spokesperson told Business Insider Australia.
The company will be appearing on the complaints register for December 2019 and is likely to turn up on the register in January 2020.
"Fair Trading’s advice to customers who are dissatisfied in their dealings with Freedom Furniture is to contact the trader and try to resolve the matter in the first instance. Customers who are unable to resolve their issues with the trader are advised to lodge a written complaint with Fair Trading."
Freedom said it is "committed" to resolving the issues faced by its customers.
"Our teams are committed to resolving the issues that customers are facing with their orders – this includes honouring any new sales price, compensation for the delays and for those customers that want to cancel their order we are obviously refunding the sale," the Freedom spokesperson said in an email.
"Both freedom and the Tier 1 vendor are working to resolve issues with the earlier impacted orders, new customer orders are being successfully fulfilled via our systems."
Have you had any issues with Freedom? Email the author of the article here.