It's in the best interest of both producer and supplier to make a good
faith effort in accurately stating rug and carpet measurements. A
vendor looks guilty when they advertise one size, and another size
slightly smaller or larger arrives. The discrepancies we're talking
about in most cases are minimal, often in the range of +/- an inch or
two. This is not an unlikely scenario, which is why it's important to understand in most cases, reputable vendors do the best they can to provide precise measurements, although there are many elements which may pose difficulty in this proposition.
In order to understand why rugs are subject to different sizes than listed, one must have a basic knowledge of the facts:
1: Imprecise measuring practices, misreading measuring tapes, or even discrepancies between different measuring tapes may all contribute to improper measurement documentation.
2: oriental rugs and tufted carpets may continue to shrink during transportation from rug producing countries. That is to say, should a rug be measured overseas pre-washing. It is not uncommon for a rug to shrink sometimes upwards of 3-5% of it's pre-wash length and width. Other instances of shrinkage may occur even with post washing measurement: With high pressure to import rugs as soon as possible, while rare, it has been known for some rugs to be shipped with very low levels of moisture remaining from the wash, and may continue to shrink while in it's travels.
3: Hard rolling techniques used to make rugs more compact during shipping or storing may tighten the rug more on one side than the other. This can contribute not only to discrepancies in size, but also may contribute to a temporarily distorted rug shape.
What can be done about this?
Here are some examples of what may be done to alleviate some of the most common problems.
every rug would be measured individually prior to sale. However, not all
importers inspect goods after receiving them. Some rugs such as hand tufted pieces are
inexpensive: giant departments stores, home improvement centers and
wholesalers make money off of volume with these rugs. Each time a rug
is touched by a porter or receiver, costs go up. The general rationale behind some of these high volume dealers is to leave measurements up to those of whom produce the rugs.
However, those of whom do take the time to open each bale for
inspection post importation are ahead of the game. The reason for this is because they're often checking for other things as well, which would include general quality control, correcting poor rolling practice
overseas, or “loosened/coned” rolls from shifting in shipping
containers. This would be the optimal time to check sizes and make
corrections within inventory systems and other.
Additional facts and other problems in detail:
Perhaps a great
self correcting measure here include carriers such as UPS and FedEx.
Strict guidelines including length, girth and weight are used to
calculate final shipping costs to any given destination. However, there
are instances when literally 1” additional length may make the
difference of $80+ shipping cost for one rug! Additional costs for
exporters should translate to additional pressure on producers,
otherwise it's a cost push to consumers. Especially given the size and
weight of these rugs, rising fuel and transportation costs, this is
perhaps the most promising element to enforcing the need for true
With the above under consideration, after
all is said and done, pressure to roll these rugs with a flat end on
each side of a tufted rug can not only distort an otherwise square rug,
but also contribute to the previously mentioned size discrepancies. The
industry of tufted rugs is based on a hand made item, “organic” in
nature, which is very pliable and reactive to ways in which they are
rolled or otherwise handled.
It’s a self correcting market. That
is to say, it’s to the importers benefit to be more forthcoming with
exact dimensions of any rug when advertising or programming goods.
Again, the best way to do this would be measuring after importing,
however this is not always a sure fire exact measurement, and simply
cannot be done by all.
Conversely, receiving a shipment for
some importers is an opportunity to recover merchandise costs by
measuring discrepancies. The smaller the rug is than expected, the more
leverage an importer has with the producer. For some, it’s very easy to
put pressure on producers by saying “you’re short a total of xx square
feet in this shipment,” or mentioning “an additional inch on the width
could mean $80 difference in shipping costs.” This is the incentive for
both distributor and wholesaler. As for the producers, it’s in their
best interest to fill every square inch of an 8x10 rug, yet knowing
they will not be compensated additionally for going over sizes should
ensure an economic mean to landing within an acceptable size range once
a rug has "settled."
It’s an imperfect trade, and I myself am
not particularly fond of the idea for an intervention in handmade rugs,
particularly Orientals. It’s my position if sizes need to be exact,
they would be made by machines: which completely obliterates the
concept behind true artisan craftsmanship...