Ashley Furniture / not honoring warranty
We are making this complaint against both Ashley Furniture and the Guardsman Insurance Company, as they are complicit in this scam.
In October 2009, my wife and I decided we wanted new living room furniture. While we don't use the living room much, as we have a large family room, we felt our old (but very expensive when new) fabric-covered couch, while still nice, was outdated. We saw an ad for Ashley Furniture in nearby Yorba Linda, CA and decided to visit the store to price a matching couch and loveseat.
It was a large store with quite a lot of couches and loveseats in inventory, but almost all of them were leather-covered. When approached by a salesperson, we explained that we had 2 cats and a dog and we were concerned about buying leather furniture from a brand that we have never purchased before (we usually bought furniture at Macy's) because of (1) possible susceptibility to damage and (2) we did not know much about Ashley's products . She, pointed out, the Guardsman point-of-sale material that seemed to be on every table. She explained that if we bought the Guardsman Elite Furniture Protection Plan, our purchases would have “bumper-to-bumper” protection for 5 years; it even covered damage (cuts or urine) from animals. She said if they couldn’t fix any damages, then the furniture would be completely replaced. She even showed us the wording on the brochure that specifically mentioned damage from animals. She also added, “Don't worry, you'll have both Ashley and Guardian behind this product.”
Convinced, we purchase a couch and a loveseat for $1173.25 (including tax) and spent another $129.99 on the “Guardsman Elite Furniture Protection Plan”.
A little over a year later, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, somehow sprayed on the couch between the center and the right (when facing the couch)“cushion” . Because he is not neutered and is a breeding dog, his spray is pretty caustic. We discovered this accident about two days after it happened. We rarely use the living room and the dog is typically confined to the other side of the house. When blotting up the spray, some of the color came out of the right “cushion” and within two days, the seam along the right side of the center “cushion” started to crack.
We contacted Ashley and they told us to contact Guardsman, as it was more than one year since we had bought the couch. We contacted Guardsman promptly, within the specified period from when the damage was discovered and they sent out someone who, ostensibly, would repair the couch. The man who came said he couldn’t repair the couch, as the tear was in a seam and since the couch's “cushions” weren't really cushions, but were attached to the couch, it would be difficult to repair. Ironically, this man remembered us as our house is at the top of a hill and he had delivered a very heavy marble dining table to us 20 years earlier! He volunteered to us that Guardsman would do everything it could to avoid paying for repair or replacement.
In subsequent days, the tear in the seam expanded, not only in length, but the cushion itself started splitting in a line ninety degrees from the axis of the seam.
Later, we got a form letter from the Guardsman company denying our claim, giving no reason.
Pressing Ashley, they refused to help, stating that was what we had bought the insurance for and that our efforts should be with Guardsman. Even though we lived less than 5 miles from the Yorba Linda store, they refused to come out and look at the damage. Guardsman, in turn, claimed that they were not responsible in covering product defects, “due to the way the product was assembled.”
This was a total “Catch-22”. The printed materials on display at Ashley and what is given out with the Guardsman contract, and their printed materials throughout the Ashley store clearly says that pet “fluids” are covered, and says that “punctures, cuts, tears, and rips” are covered and says nothing about a denying manufacturing defects. The Guardsman's website even mentions these coverages! (www.guardsman.com/en/furniture/services)
The Ashley-Guardsman Scam
Here is the scam as we see it. Ashley makes inferior products, at least with respect to their leather furniture. Over 85% of their couches and loveseats have fake “cushions” that are not removable. They look like cushions, but to save manufacturing costs, they are part of the body of the couch, with 3 separations in a couch and 1 in a loveseat, that makes it appear to be “cushions”. If they had real cushions, instead of these “Hollywood Fronts” a damaged cushion could be removed, repaired, or replaced. On Ashley's products they can't. I have a leather couch in my home office that is over 15 years old. Its leather is twice as thick as the leather on an Ashley couch.
Once a product is more than a year old, Ashley states that its manufacturer's warranty is void and, in turn, Guardsman says that, even though they are the extended warranty, manufacturer's defects are not covered. So Ashley gets to sell shoddy products. Guardsman gets to sell a worthless policy and the customer is left holding the bag, even though the extended “bumper-to-bumper” warranty, specifically includes damage from pets and pet fluids and mentions nothing about manufacturer's defects. Plus, the salespeople at Ashley emphasize that buying the extended coverage takes the worry out of having leather furniture.
If Guardsman were not the scam that it is, they would have paid for the repair or replacement and then sought to recover their expenses from Ashley Furniture. They have an obvious “agency” relationship. Guardsman promotional materials are to be found on just about any flat furniture surface at an Ashley Store. The Ashley salespeople and the Ashley corporation get a commission from Guardsman, and the customer gets stuck with a couch that is unraveling before my eyes.
As Ashley Furniture's couches are inferior, as they cannot be easily repaired because of their fake cushions and uneven stitching, we expect them to remove the couch and loveseat from our house after refunding to us the full purchase price of the coach and matching loveseat including taxes and delivery charges and refund the money spent on this useless Guardsman Policy scam. The total is $1, 303.24.
They need to act quickly, or I will see to establish a class-action lawsuit against Ashley and Guardsman, both individually and jointly.
Copies of this complaint will be sent to the California State Attorney General's office, the Office of the California Insurance Commissioner and the Federal Trade Commission for investigation into possible R.I.C.O. malfeasance.
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