Most rug dealers are ethical; however, there has been a lot of consumer abuse in the rug trade over the years. Overcharging, poor customer service, misrepresentation of provenance, age, and condition of antiques, selling seconds as firsts, false going out of business sales, and false moving sales are some of the ways in which consumers have been mistreated by rug wholesalers and retailers.
From personal experience, I can reveal that certain prominent carpet retailers buy flawed rugs, in large quantities, at deep discount, in the East. Manufacturers in the East must sell second as well as first quality rugs at some point. Without revealing the imperfect condition, which may include design asymmetry or irregularity, they sell these carpets as first grade goods, at high prices. This allows the unethical vendor to sell at very high markups, and make greater profits than they would make on first grade goods. Seconds should be labeled as such, and sold at lower prices.
Sometimes antique rugs are cut and reduced to fit a room in a way that makes the alteration very difficult to notice. Unscrupulous vendors sometimes sell these incomplete rugs as complete carpets to an unwary public.
Some rugs may have areas of poor or loose weaving that is only noticeable on the back, but not on the surface of the carpet. These rugs are also sold as first quality when they are in fact seriously flawed.
Some rugs employ tannery wool from dead sheep, with reduced lanolin, that has been stored. This wool is treated to feel soft, but is dry and brittle, and wears out quickly. Other rugs may employ bleached wool, with reduced lanolin, that is also dry and brittle, because the sheep in the area had a grayish color wool, that could not be dyed effectively.
Nineteenth century rugs are often sold as eighteenth century weavings, and rugs whose wholesale value is $1000 may be sold for $5000, or even $10,000.
An Indian rug may be sold as Persian, and consumers may not be able to get a full credit for a rug returned within one week in perfect, sold condition.
Sometimes rug dealers have floods, and after drying, their rugs may be damaged, with slightly hard areas, and a tiny bit of color run, in certain areas. They may have weak warp and weft foundation threads because of excessive exposure to dampness. While these rugs should be sold at deep discount, if damage is slight, or not sold at all, if damage is significant, they are sometimes sold at regular retail prices.
While a certain amount of wool shedding in new rugs is expected, many rugs continuously shed surface wool, for six months or more. These rugs have inferior wool, and should be accepted by vendors when returned for refund or exchange. Sometimes returns are not accepted, or insufficient store credit is given.
Buying abroad can be even worse as many tourists, in a relaxed mood, with their defenses down, may pay exorbitant prices for mediocre and misrepresented carpets. This is particularly disturbing when newlyweds or the elderly are manipulated and cheated by Eastern vendors without business ethics.
The great recession of 2009/2010 has led to another form of misrepresentation: a new scourge of going out of business sales. Beware of new stores in your neighborhood that open for a few months, and then close over a period of a year, or more. Many beautiful, newly renovated stores are opening across the United States, explicitly to be closed after a few months. Do not patronize stores that have just opened and suddenly close, as they are generally run by unethical people, and do not offer any significant discounts. They also hurt nearby legitimate businesses that are trying to survive.
These facts should not give you a jaundiced view of oriental rug dealers, and jeopardize your patronage of the world’s greatest universal art form. Perish the thought. I have spent most of my adult life promoting oriental carpets in the United States. The majority of dealers do not engage in unethical business practices, in my experience. Just be cautious in buying, and request proper assurances from vendors upon purchase.
I have tried to offer ethical business standards by inspecting rugs carefully, and grading their quality, before offering them to my customers. If a rug has a serious flaw, and does not pass my strict inspection standards, I will not offer it to my clients, under any circumstances. I do not offer flawed rugs to clients, no matter how good they look in the space, and I am meticulous to a fault in this respect
If you want peace of mind, and the assurance of a good rug, at the right price, please send me your rug request.
You have come to the right place to ask questions about Oriental Rug Appraisal or to have your Rug Professionally Appraised online by J.R. AZIZOLLAHOFF himself-the author of The Illustrated Buyer's Guide to Oriental Carpets. He is now taking requests for appraisals online. After you fill out this form he will respond and ask you to send photos of your Oriental Rug. He will ask you questions about it and tell you what he would like photos of. After you pay for your appraisal you will receive it by email on official letterhead.
If you are in the Middlesex County New Jersey area you can call Mr. Azizollahoff to make an appointment to bring your carpet for appraisal in person. In person he charges more than for online appraisals because it usually takes at least an hour of his time to explain the appraisal process and how the carpet is evaluated.