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Jennifer Convertibles' Peeling Sofas, Warranty Issues Anger Consumers

Sep 10, 2013

Furniture maker Jennifer Convertibles is suffering from mounting complaints over its expensive leather sofas.

According to consumers, the leather on the costly sofas is peeling off in clumps and large sheets, leaving them with defective, unsightly furniture, according to Daily Finance. In a “Today Show” report, unhappy consumers said that their Jennifer Convertibles leather sofas were peeling and falling apart in typical use.

In one case, a customer purchased a $1,700 Jennifer Convertibles leather sofa in 2005. Within the first year the leather on the sofa began peeling off in clumps and sheets, she alleges, and is nearly fully peeled off, according to Daily Finance. The consumer told Today Money that when “[y]ou sit on the couch and when you get up, parts of it peel off.”

She said she purchased what Jennifer Convertibles had told her was a “bumper to bumper” plan for an additional $200 and was led to believe it would cover the sofa’s serious defects, NBC Today reported.

The consumer said that she never received an offer of replacement parts and was only given a $200 refund on the warranty. "I'm a single mother," she said. "I have two children. I don't have the extra money to go out and buy another sofa," she told “The Today Show.”

Another customer said that he purchased the so-called "leather protection plan" for his sofa, but when he spoke to Jennifer Convertibles about his peeling sofa, he was advised that the leather plan does not cover peeling leather. Jennifer Convertibles’ leather protection plan does state in its fine print that leather is not covered in cases of its peeling and cracking; however, NBC learned that sales staff was not very direct about these plan exclusions, Daily Finance reported.

This is not the first time that Jennifer Convertibles has been embroiled in consumer controversy. In 1998, after refusing to make repairs, the furniture maker was ordered by the New York attorney general to compensate hundreds of customers who alleged that they received damaged furniture, according to Daily Finance. On the Consumer Affairs’ website, thousands of complaints can be found concerning both peeling leather and unsatisfactory delivery practices.

“The Today Show” went undercover at two Jennifer Convertibles stores to better understand how salespeople were explaining the leather protection plan’s peeling and cracking exception, according to Today Money. At one store, the clerk appropriately explained that wear and tear, including leather cracking, is not covered, "They don't cover that part," he said.

At another Jennifer Convertibles store, the saleswoman never mentioned the cracking and peeling exception to the leather protection plan. Instead, she told Today Money that "[w]e do have a protection plan for five years so if something happens, food and beverages, rips, cuts, tears, punctures, they're all covered: They get you a brand new sofa within five years," she said. "Definitely you should get the protection plan, she added."

“The Today Show” brought the video to Claire Rosenzweig, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York, and asked if different salespeople from the same company should be providing differing warranty information to consumers. "No, it should be consistent," Rosenzweig told “The Today Show.” For its part, Jennifer Convertibles told “The Today Show, "We encourage transparency. We encourage disclosure. We train our salespeople to present the products and services ... honestly and proudly ... if we find that a salesperson has done something against this policy, we will deal with it accordingly."

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs is probing Jennifer Convertibles for an array of issues that also includes sales staff misrepresenting the $200 leather plan warranty, according to Today Money.

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