CHICAGO (WLS) --Hundreds of ABC7 viewers have contacted us with concerns about their peeling and flaking furniture ever since our consumer I-Team aired their story about blended leather.
As complaints of crumbling couches continue coming into our I-Team office, angry consumers on the West Coast have filed suit. That suit could make its way to Chicago.
This California class action suit takes aim at "Durablend," the material recently reported on by the ABC7 I-Team. The combination of polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, poly cotton and leather is made by Ashley Furniture. Angry customers spent thousands of dollars on sofas and sectionals they thought would last.
Flaking furniture: I-Team gets results for customers
Ashley Furniture's corporate headquarters had no comment on the class action suit. But in these court filings, the company denies breaching its warranties with customers, says they did disclose that Durablend was not real leather and that they adequately label their products.
"People are angry because they've been buying stuff that starts to bubble, peel, fall apart after just months. Our investigation has shown that thousands of consumers out there are being deceived by Ashley Furniture's Durablend, blended leather as they call it. People think they're buying leather when they're really not. It's a minimal amount of leather in there. This is an industry-wide problem. We're investigating other companies," said Mikael H. Stahle, class action attorney.
Attorneys say they want to expand the California lawsuit to other brands and states.
More refunds for customers with flaking furniture
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.
Customers with furniture problems should contact Ashely Furniture's Consumer Affairs Department email@example.com. 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.
I-Team: Stores offer to help with flaking furniture
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.