CHICAGO (WLS) --We've had huge reaction from the public and from some of the top furniture stores who say they now want to help unsatisfied customers.
Many of them spent thousands of dollars on flaking furniture that they thought would last.
"Thanks to Jason Knowles and his investigation I have this new couch from Ashley Furniture," said James Zima, who contacted the I-Team about his couch.
Zima and other viewers are getting reimbursed after taking their complaints about several brands of flaking furniture to the I-Team. So far, they've received nearly $10,000 in refunds or gift cards.
"Here's where it is cracking," said Danny McGary.
McGary and others told the ABC7 I-Team about their deteriorating furniture. After our first story aired, we received hundreds of emails, calls and Facebook messages from angry customers who purchased Ashley Durablend and other brands of blended, bonded or bi-cast leather.
"I feel like I was ripped off and lied to for the most part about the quality of the furniture," said McGary, who contacted the I-Team.
Ashley tells the I-Team their stores are independently owned and not all information gets to the corporate level. They said our stories have been quote - "very helpful" and "each complaint will be looked at on a case by case basis." They plan to work with stores to help.
Darvin Furniture told the I-Team, it "appears there is a possibility of a defect that came from a couple of manufacturers within a certain time period" and that specific bonded leather is no longer available at their stores.
Value City, which sold furniture made with Ashley's Durablend material, tells us the Durablend products were phased out of their inventory two to three years ago.
The Room Place says they have "...pro-actively put steps in place to ensure their manufacturers are rigorously testing all bonded leather products and will be providing sales associates additional information to share with customers of how best to care for it. And, they "...will follow up with each customer directly to ensure a timely resolution..."
The Room Place told us they even set up a special hotline and an email for our viewers, since our story aired.
Dear ABC 7 Viewer:
We received hundreds of calls and emails from viewers regarding problems with their bonded-leather furniture. Below are statements from retailers who were mentioned frequently by viewers like you. We've also included advice from the Better Business Bureau.
Thank you for watching ABC 7 News.
Customers with furniture problems should contact Ashely Furniture's Consumer Affairs Department firstname.lastname@example.org. Ashley Corporate tells the I-Team they will look at each situation on a case by case basis. They told us that most Ashley Furniture stores are independently owned so depending on the situation, they will see what they can do as a corporation.
Darvin tells the I-Team that the type of bonded leather that is flaking is no longer being used by their manufacturers and is no longer available at Darvin.
Customers can contact "In Home Service" at 708/478-6100 x6390, talk to a customer representative and they will ask for details of your purchase as well as photos.
Durablend was phased out at Value City 2-3 years ago, the company tells the I-Team. Stores will look into each complaint and may offer customers options such as in store credit or refunds.
Customers should call 888/751-8552 x2 and have their furniture invoices on hand.
THE ROOM PLACE
"As a 104 year old family-owned company, we pride ourselves on excellent customer service while providing a stylish assortment and unbeatable value on all of our merchandise. We are grateful to our customers for their loyalty and trust in the products and services we offer. The RoomPlace is proud of our A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and appreciates ABC bringing this to our attention. We have pro-actively put steps in place to ensure our manufactures are rigorously testing all bonded leather products and will be providing our sales associates additional information to share with customers about bonded leather furniture and how best to care for it.
If RoomPlace customers have concerns regarding their bonded leather products, they can contact our customer care team at 630-827-7828 or send an email to AskUs@theroomplace.com. We are committed to providing exceptional service and will follow up with each customer directly to ensure a timely resolution to the matter."
BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU TIPS:
-ALWAYS DO RESEARCH BEFORE MAKING ANY LARGE RETAIL PURCHASE.
-AN OUNCE OF PROTECTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE BECAUSE CONSUMERS ARE MOSTLY PROTECTED ONLY INSIDE THE PURCHASE WARRANTIES.
-SPEND SOME TIME SEARCHING THE INTERNET WITH SEARCHING THE BBB - GOOGLE NEWS- OR OTHER TOOLS.
From cars to household appliances there are usually quality differences in product lines and it is especially important in items you hope to be long lasting and durable.
-AN INFORMED CONSUMER IS A EMPOWERED CONSUMER. ASKING ABOUT BONDED LEATHER AHEAD OF TIME IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO MAKE A WELL INFORMED CHOICE IF YOU LEARN ABOUT IT.
In the case of bonded leather -- sometimes called "reconstituted" leather -- is not the whole skin of an animal, but left-over pieces of hide blended together to form a seamless piece of leather material.