All warranties are not alike.
- Some warranties are designed to protect consumers. Most automobile warranties fall into this category.
- Other warranties may appear to protect consumers, but actually afford significant legal protections to manufacturers and retailers against common consumer complaints.
Furniture warranties fall into this second category. A furniture warranty has two main purposes:
- It is a marketing tool to give consumers confidence that the product they are purchasing is good quality and that they will be protected against product defects.
<li”>It is also a legal document that shields furniture retailers and manufacturers from responsibility for fixing many common customer complaints. These include:
- Cushions that lose their shape and comfort after a short period of time
- Most fabric-related problems.
- Comfort related issues, including almost all complaints regarding mattresses once the “trial period” has expired.
Furniture warranties are extended by both the manufacturer and retailer of the furniture.
- The manufacturer’s warranty will generally specify that all claims must be made through the retailer.
- The only time the manufacturer’s warranty will apply is when the original retailer is no longer in business.
- Extended warranties purchased from third party vendors (insurance companies) will typically void the manufacturer’s warranty under all circumstances.
At the top of furniture warranties, large bold letters will spell out the time limit for each major part of the furniture. For example:
Frames – 10 years
Cushions – 5 years
Recliner or Sleeper Mechanisms – 3 years
Fabric – 1 year
Mattresses – 1 year
Much further down the document, in smaller print, there will be exceptions and exclusions. These exceptions and exclusions can make the bold print terms virtually meaningless.
Furniture warranties are honored only by the retailer you purchased from. Manufacturers will do nothing to help unless you first go through your local retailer.
Always check out reviews and complaints about your local retailer before making major purchases.
- Although some retailers are serious about helping out their customers, others will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying for costly repairs or returns.
Furniture warranties may seem, at first glance, to cover everything, at least for a specified amount of time.
- In reality the warranty document will contain numerous exceptions and exclusions. These usually cover the most common complaints that furniture purchasers will have.
- For example cushions are almost always excluded from warranty protection.
- That may not be obvious. The bold print may promise a 5 year or limited lifetime warranty.
- Further down in the warranty, however, will be a clause stating that “Normal wear” is excluded.
- If cushions sag or lose their shape that is considered “normal wear” no matter how soon it happens after you purchased the furniture.
There have been thousands of complaints over the past decade about “peeling” bonded leather fabrics. This type of problem is not repairable and virtually destroys the value of the furniture.
- Retailers routinely refuse to cover peeling bonded leather citing either “normal use” or “customer abuse” as justification for their inaction.
- Normal use can include sliding back and forth on the cushions when operating the reclining mechanism.
- Customer abuse can include allowing pets on the furniture or the use of cleaning or conditioning products.
- Even in extreme cases where bonded leather begins to peel in less than a year, many retailers will fight against replacing the furniture.
- There have been hundreds of lawsuits on this subject. Consumers rarely prevail.
Frames and foundations have far fewer problems than cushions and fabrics. Defects are also more difficult to prove.
Most furniture damage occurs during shipping. This can be from the factory to the retailer or from the retailer to the customer.
- Defects must be seen and documented while the delivery people are still in your home. Otherwise you may have great difficulty getting the warranty provisions honored.
- Many retailers routinely “deluxe” their furniture before delivery from their warehouse to the customer.
- “Deluxing” means that the retailer removes the furniture from the manufacturer’s packaging, inspects it, repairs any noticeable defects and then blanket wraps the furniture for delivery to the home.
- The reason for this practice is that a significant percentage of furniture arrives at the retailer’s warehouse already damaged. Or it is damaged in the warehouse before leaving.
- Repairs are far less expensive when they are made before the furniture reaches the customer’s home.
Customers sometimes pick up furniture at the retailer’s warehouse.
- If something in one of the boxes you picked up is damaged when you arrive home, some stores may deny all responsibility.
- The pickup document you signed before leaving the warehouse may have a clause stating that you have inspected the furniture and certified it to be in good condition.
- This allows the retailer to disclaim any responsibility for damages discovered when you open the sealed boxes in your home.
Online retailers are often easier to deal with. They are able accept returns more economically. They are also in a better position to force manufacturers to share the cost of returns.
Bedding warranties are virtually useless. Almost anything that can go wrong with a mattress or foundation after the “trial period” will be dismissed as “normal wear.” Major defects like broken springs that might be covered are extremely rare.
Extended Warranty Plans
Extended warranties may work for some types of consumer goods. Extended furniture warranties are never a good idea.
They void the manufacturer’s warranty and are loaded with exclusions.
- These plans are typically pitched as though they offer added protection and cover defects that are not included in the normal warranties. They do not do that.
- Extended warranties are third party insurance contracts from financial companies.
- If the company backing the extended warranty goes out of business you lose your coverage. There are many cases of extended warranty companies that have gone out of business. Customers are left with no protection.
- Extended warranty companies subcontract furniture repair services. Contracts are usually awarded to 3rd party repair services.
- Contracts are often awarded to the lowest bidder. These may have bad reputations or be inconveniently located. They have no relationships or agreements with the furniture manufacturer for obtaining parts.
- Extended warranty plans generally end up costing anywhere from $100 to 6% of the total cost of furniture. They are extremely lucrative to the store.
- Essentially these extended warranties represent additional income for the store while simultaneously absolving it of responsibility for fixing problems.
- Salespeople receive very high commissions for selling these plans.
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