PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Furniture is often an investment for families. You spend time and money to find what you want.
What do you do when after a couple of years, the quality is not what you expected? Rick Mathey Turned To 10.
Mathey bought a leather chair from Hudson’s Furniture in Pinellas Park, a floor model that he spent $588.49 in June 2017. In August 2019, he says the leather on the headrest started to peel and flake.
“When I first noticed it, I was really disappointed,” he said.
Mathey says he and his wife spent quite a bit of time trying to find the perfect chair and were concerned about buying quality leather. He explained that they previously bought a sofa made of bonded leather which, over time, is known to peel.
The swivel recliner they chose is made of top-grain leather on the pieces that touch your body and has leather match, a vinyl look-alike, on the back and sides.
“We actually love the chair. It’s fantastic,” he said.
When the material on the headrest started to peel, Mathey questioned the quality and hoped for an easy fix. He reached out to the store manager and says he was told that without a protection or replacement plan, there was nothing she could do.
“I’m not presenting a warranty issue. What I’m saying is you sold me a chair that was, you said was top grain leather, but it’s not,” he said.
In late November, the store manager offered to meet him halfway. Hudson’s would pay for the parts to replace the headrest and Mathey would have to pay for the labor to fix it.
He was OK with that if they could verify the chair wouldn’t peel again. That question was never answered.
“Haven’t heard a thing since. I’ve sent three email reminders and called and left messages -- no response of any kind. I paid a lot of money for the chair and I would expect them to fix the problem and so yeah, ‘Am I upset?’ Yeah, of course. That’s why I’m reaching out to you guys,” he said.
10Investigates reached out to the company and quickly got answers and actions.
A regional manager says the store manager who was working with Mathey is no longer with the company. She did leave memos regarding his issue and her offer.
The customer care manager for the popular furniture chain also got involved and began working with the chair manufacturer and Mathey.
Both explained to 10Investigates that top grain leather can peel. The applied color or protected layer can flake off over time, but typically it looks more like smearing. They said body and hair oils, hair products and cleaning agents can be to blame.
A leather specialist in St. Petersburg backs up that explanation. He says peeling does happen and it’s something his company can easily fix especially with top grain leather.
Hudson’s examined pictures from Mathey and video that shows bubbling below the color in another area on the chair.
They offered Mathey a choice: Hudson’s would give him a store credit for the full purchase price of $588.49 and he could keep the chair as is or they would pay to fix it.
Mathey took the store credit.
“It was not only disappointing in the beginning, but it was also frustrating. In the end I’m 100 percent happy, very pleased. I think Hudson’s made it right thanks to Turn To 10.”
What if I buy the protection plan or replacement plan?
They aren’t for every family or every piece of furniture. Furniture protection plans often cover any damage you cause. In the case of Hudson’s Furniture, the plan they offer for an additional cost does cover cracking or peeling of top grain leather.
Make sure you read the fine print. Ask questions and get answers in writing.
What if the store will not respond or help?
If you’re buying from a reputable company, they should respond to your complaints and concerns. If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere you should ask for a manager or reach out to corporate customer service for assistance.
Make sure you note who you spoke to, when and what was said.
Buying leather furniture? Here's what to look for:
Patrick German does leather and vinyl repair in St. Petersburg for Creative Colors International. He says he often repairs peeling, flaking discolored and cracked leather.
German says the first thing to look for is the label.
“It should say genuine top grain leather. If it doesn’t say that then it probably isn’t,” German said. "If it says bonded, of course, bonded leather you don’t want to get and if it says urethane (polyurethane) coated, you don’t want to get urethane-coated that’s the same thing as bonded."
German says there are levels of leather: suede, aniline, semi-aniline and protected.
“Protected leather is protected so that spills don’t go into, stains don’t go into the leather itself. If you’ve got something that’s aniline it’s very expensive, it’s the best kind of leather, but it stains if you spill a glass of wine on there it’s gonna be a stain forever,” German said.
He explained that protected leather can scratch, it can peel or flake, because of body oils. He says those oils can get into the pores of the leather and push off the protected coating.
German says before you buy, you can also check the back of the leather to make sure it’s not a leather match.
“With a zipper, you can come in and feel behind it. When you feel back here on this part of it you can feel like a little cloth backing and that tells you that that’s vinyl,” German said.
“If it’s leather it’ll feel like suede. It’ll have the little hairs that you can feel.”
Do you have a consumer concern? Want us to look into something for you? If you do, you need to turn to 10! Simply send an email to Turnto10@wtsp.com and tell us your story!