Troubleshooter: No sitting pretty when new couches peel

Diane Wilson Image
Friday, November 18, 2016
Leather furniture cracking and peeling
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Residents called in the troubleshooter to help after their leather furniture cracked and peeled.

HOLLY SPRINGS (WTVD) -- When you buy new furniture, you expect it to last and provide years of comfort. Instead, I'm hearing from several furniture owners whose furniture is peeling and flaking away.

Eula Pearson can't believe how her furniture looks already.

"It first started blistering in this area," Eula showed us.

She said it didn't take long for the blistering to turn into a bigger issue.

Cracking and peeling on Eula Pearson's couch.

"Maybe a week later, it started peeling," she said.

Nancy Bostrom is dealing with the same issue.

"In the last month this has started peeling, and it's bubbling up," she said.

Leather giving way on Nancy Bostrom's couch.

She thought she made a good purchase. Nancy says she even told the sales person what she was looking for: "We wanted something that was durable."

Both women thought they were getting a good deal on leather quality furniture, known as bonded or bi-cast leather. The material can be a combination of polyurethane, poly cotton, and leather.

Both women bought the third-party warranty with the furniture, but when they tried to make a claim, both tell me they were told that peeling and flaking is not covered under the warranty.

Experts say when it peels, it can't be fixed.

Nancy Bostrom shows the damage to her new leather couch.

Kevin Gillan from Advanced Leather Solutions said, "It's a manmade byproduct of leather, much like press wood is a byproduct of wood."

Gillan said that just because the tag says "leather," doesn't mean it is high-quality. For "long lasting" leather furniture, experts recommend buying leather that is "top grain" or "full grain."

Two furniture industry groups responded to the I-Team saying that advances in imitation leather make it possible for consumers to save money on furniture that looks and feels like real leather, but "these advances also challenge upholstery merchandisers and marketers to describe their products accurately."

After Eula and Nancy reached out to me, I contacted the companies that sold the furniture to them. Both women were offered cash settlements, and are satisfied with what they were offered.

Eula Pearson shows the damage to her new couch.

Nancy added, "Thanks so much Diane. I knew when I reached out to you, we would get results and you did so within 24 hours!"

If you're furniture shopping soon, the best advice is to research the product you are buying.

If you don't have the money to buy real leather, experts recommend buying vinyl. They say vinyl is the most durable alternative to leather.

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