Why Do Furniture Companies Sell Bonded Leather After Knowing That It Peels?

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Ask the Expert | 0 comments

Question:

Why would furniture companies sell a product like bonded leather which they know will fall apart and result in customer complaints?

I was told by the salesperson that bonded leather was a very durable material and that if I bought the extended warranty it would protect me against any product defects.

My recliner began to peel after one year. I contacted the retailer, who told me this was not covered by their warranty or extended protection plan.

I took my complaint to the BBB. They have not been able to help.

 Answer:

There have been thousands of complaints about bonded leather since it was first introduced about 10 years ago.

Furniture manufacturers and retailers are very well aware of bonded leather’s problems.

Warranties are specifically written to protect retailers and manufacturers against liability for repairing or replacing worn out or peeling bonded leather.

Furniture warranties (including extended warranties) offer very little protection against any of the most common consumer complaints. This includes peeling bonded leather.

Check out my blog article  Furniture Warranties – Tricks, Traps and Warnings

The good news is that within the past year there is a new synthetic leather technology combining polyester and polyurethane.

  • The new composite faux leathers are very comparable in looks, feel and cost to bonded leather.
  • Some are less expensive.
  • In general composite faux leathers with high percentages of polyester and low percentages of polyurethane are less expensive than the composites with higher percentages of polyurethane.

Many retailers are now switching to these new composite faux leathers. Manufacturers have never liked bonded leather and only offered it due to retailer (and consumer) demand.

The new composite faux leathers have not been around long enough yet to determine how well they will wear over the long term. But it is difficult to imagine that they can be any worse than bonded leather.

You may wonder why so much bonded leather has been sold over the past decade in the face of many thousands of complaints.

  • Prior to 2010, very few furniture store customers were willing to buy seating with 100% synthetic leathers.
  • Vinyls and 100% polyurethane synthetic leathers had been around for 50 years, but accounted for only a very small percentage of total seating purchases.

Bonded leather was a material that salespeople could pass off as “partially real leather,” implying that it was “better” than the 100% synthetics.

  • Introduction of bonded leather coincided with the growth of reclining furniture, which has been the fastest growing segment of the furniture industry over the past decade.
  • Bonded leather quickly became the most popular type of material sold with reclining furniture and also for low cost office seating.

From a marketing and profit standpoint, bonded leather has been a great success.

  • It has broken through consumer reluctance to buy synthetic leathers.
  • It has also increased sales and profits for retailers by creating a product that needs to be replaced far sooner than equally priced fabric seating.

At this point, a large percentage of consumers are aware of bonded leather’s problems and actively try to avoid it when buying new furniture.

  • On the other hand, bonded leather has conditioned the public to be more accepting of synthetic leathers.

Although the new composite faux leathers are 100% synthetic, there has been very little consumer resistance so far.

  • This is a dramatic contrast to public acceptance of synthetic leathers prior to the introduction of bonded leather.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Consultant

Jeff Frank is a 45 year  furniture industry veteran. He created this blog to provide detailed facts, inside information & advice for furniture shoppers. 

 

 

 

 Shopping for furniture can be complex and frustrating. Salespeople have limited knowledge & experience about the products they sell. If you’re looking for real answers before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, check out our furniture buyer consulting.

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