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The Brick reviews its furniture warranties: Roseman      

By: Ellen Roseman On Your Side, Published on Fri May 10 2013                                

Bonded leather tends to crack and peel. The Brick's warranty covers new furniture buyers, but previous buyers were excluded until we intervened.

 

The Brick is known for selling low-priced furniture in about 200 stores across Canada. Its salespeople vigorously promote a “blanket” warranty that covers everything that can go wrong for five years.

But there are many holes in the blanket warranty, especially when it comes to bonded leather. This synthetic material, prone to cracking and peeling, can be less durable than genuine leather when used in sofas and chairs.

The Brick refused to cover bonded leather furniture until last November, when it changed its extended warranty. Still, it turned away customers whose problems predated the change — a state of affairs that was confusing at best, infuriating at worst.

After fielding a bunch of complaints, I wrote an April 27 column about a customer’s victory in small claims court. Hira Aggarwal won $1,500 spent on a bonded leather sofa that was peeling on the headrest after three years.

I later heard from others who had been fighting with the Brick for reimbursement.

Here are a few of their stories:

·  Nancy Rondeau in Halifax bought a bonded leather sofa, chair and loveseat. She didn’t want to get genuine leather because she had a cat.

“Go forward three years into the $350 warranty and the sofa began to peel. They said the damage was because of cat scratches, which it wasn’t.

“I wanted to have the $350 credited back to me if I purchased a new suite, but they said no. They were friendly and helpful when they sold us the furniture and useless warranty, but that only lasted until we left the store.”

·  Tony Cammalleri noticed peeling and cracking on his bonded leather sofa three and half years into his warranty, but was turned down for coverage.

“Because my matching loveseat was perfectly fine, they insinuated the damage was something we did and could have been prevented,” he said.

The Brick resolved his complaint within a week. He now has a credit for both the sofa and loveseat, which he can use to buy sturdier furniture.

·  Pauline Sennett had been fighting with The Brick since 2011 to cover rips, tears and surface peeling to a sofa she bought in 2007.

“They agreed to repair the problem,” she said, “but everything went quiet for a few months. They were supposed to be ordering leather pieces from the manufacturer.

“When I didn’t receive further communication, I wrote back and was told The Brick had unilaterally decided to cancel the repair.”

She, too, was offered a credit for the full purchase price. She was happy because her sofa was part of a set — and her warranty ran out last year.

Arv Gupta, The Brick’s new vice-president of customer service, has worked in similar jobs at Sears and Canadian Tire. He said the decision to expand the blanket warranty was a gamble.

“I’m not aware of anyone in the industry that covers bonded leather. We said we’d cover it for new purchases, but I’m a little concerned about that because I’m not sure if it lasts for five years or not,” he told me.

The Brick has grown so quickly that it hasn’t invested in a customer service infrastructure. Each store handles its own complaints, he added.

“We’re trying to set up a central call centre, but we’re right in the middle of everything,” Gupta said. “The hand-offs are still manual because the system isn’t fully implemented yet.

“Our escalation process is too slow. We get 1,500 furniture warranty claims a week and we aren’t fast enough,” he said. “But if older bonded leather complaints are escalated to us, we’ll err on the side of taking care of customers.”

While impressed by his honesty, I’m worried about a system that rewards salespeople for pushing warranties while it’s difficult for customers to get compensated for their claims.

As I said before, always ask about the leatherlike fabric in furniture stores. Read the labels. These items look like real leather, but the wear isn’t there.

List of Articles
Subject Date

10. Internet

  • Dec 12, 2013

A lot of people use internet before they actually go out for shopping. First they Google to choose which places to check. If you type "Leather sofas Toronto" or "Best leather sofas Ontario" you can...

9. Delivery Time

  • Dec 11, 2013

  If a dealer says it is made in Canada and promised delivery in 3 to 4 months. Chances are he is not telling the truth and it is an off-shore product. Domestic products ususally take 4 ...

8. Roseman continues......

  • May 14, 2013

The Brick reviews its furniture warranties: Roseman By: Ellen Roseman On Your Side, Published on Fri May 10 2013 Bonded leather tends to crack and peel. The Brick's warranty covers new furniture b...

7. Toronto Star-A sofa warranty with lots of holes imagefile

  • May 04, 2013

6. Dealer Credibility

  • Jan 23, 2013

The most important thing for an average shopper is to deal with reputable dealers. No matter how much you know about leather or sofas, you can very easily be misled into buying something you regret late...

5. Are seat cushions removable?

  • Jan 22, 2013

There is an another good indicator to see whether it is a good sofa or not. It is better to make all the cushions(especially seat cushions) removable. With a few exceptions, the main reason for th...

4. Spring or Webbing

  • Jan 22, 2013

If a frame is the skeleton of a chair or sofa, webbing and springs are the muscles. They give furniture its tautness, its memory, its underlying shape. If they’re not right, nothing built on top o...

3. Frame

  • Jan 19, 2013

The frame is one of the most important parts of leather furniture. In different parts of the world, people build sofa frames out of different materials, some uses hardwood and others chip board (of...

2. What kind of leather is best for me?

  • Jan 19, 2013

Leather is by far the most important part of leather furniture. The more you know the less chance you have being misled into buying something you will regret later. I suggest you read the article about...

1. Bonded leather is not real leather.

  • Jan 19, 2013

There are different types of bonded leather, the type being used on upholstered furniture today is a plastic material (generally polyurethane or vinyl) backed with fabric. It is made by applying latex...

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