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outdated.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
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 couldnt 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
couldnt 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.