Thursday, August 18, 2011


Good morning, everyone.

In today's post I'd like to share with you something that has happened to me recently. As many of you know I am an interior designer by trade and am a very savvy shopper.

About three months ago I had decided to redesign my living space to make it more suitable for my design/writing work.

I had always favored traditional decor mixed with a bit of eclectic. Since I live in a hundred-year-old building, this look was most suitable. Actually after I had bought my condo, I designed the space after 1920's parlor style. Think Great Gatsby. Overstuffed acanthus leafed damask down sofa's and chairs accompanied by antique mahogany tables. The only modern piece, the coffee table, a hand wrought iron French knotted creation curved into a magnificent swan's neck on each corner, and topped with a simple round beveled glass. Definitely and eye-catching room.

After seven years of this formality, I decided it was time to enter into the twenty-first century. After all we are in the age of high tech toys and simple, easy living. I decided to go sleek and modern. Two low-profile leather sofas in a pearlized creme. For a splash of color a pumpkin, burnt orange leather studded accent chair. Mixed with the same antique mahogany tables.

The flat screen proudly placed on top of the fireplace. Something I swore I would NEVER do. But this is no longer my formal showcase. I wanted a functional and modern space and I had achieved my goal.

For the final touch, I added a cool sofa table of my own design, topped with a stunning hand blow frosted bowl, an hour glass, and hand blown glass tropical fish. The stage was set.

Enjoying my new space for the past month or so, something odd happened. Both leather sofas started to show signs of wear. After four weeks? Was it my imagination? NO. The seats sagged, the leather wrinkled, and the overall appearance of sleek sophistication, now looked aged and worn.

Needless to say I contacted the store. Immediately they sent out their repair person. He analyzed the situation and set up an appointment for the following week to repair the sagging seats.

A week later, he returned with an assistant and flipped the sofas and pulled the backing off. To my horror, the whole frame was made of particle board. Stunned, I watched the technician re-support the ELASTIC webbing with the proper industrial strength kind. We discussed the workmanship and he rattled on about how all the new furniture manufacturers today are cutting corners and using inferior products.

For the record all... these were NOT cheap sofas. I bought them from a very reputable department store. I have shopped there for years and had always been happy with their products.

After he re-stapled the backing, we tested them out. One sofa was fine but the other still sagged. He called the company and they set up an appointment to replace both sofas for this week.

Well, last night I got to thinking. Do I really want such inferior furniture in my home. I would never allow one of my clients to house such garbage, so why was I? Yes, it looked gorgeous, but the new sofas could sag exactly the same way in another month. Do I really want to have to go through this again? We know the answer to that question. NO WAY. So I called customer service.

Thankfully they will be picking up these sofas and I will get a full refund. Even the rep agreed with me a hundred percent. She was shocked that no hardwood was used in the framing of these beautifully designed pieces.

So a lesson learned my friends. Remember just because it looks beautiful and might be expensive, make sure the structure is strong and durable.

Not unlike good writing, all fluff and no substance makes for a sagging piece of prose.

Have a great day everyone.


  1. I'm so glad the company was able to take back their furniture; yet it's so sad how cheaply furniture is made. We did some remodeling/replacing last year and ran into some of the same situations. Gone are the days, like our parents, who bought one set of everything and used the same furniture for years, decades!

  2. That is the sad state of our world today. I am glad you were able to get your money back. The store sounds like they have fabulous customer service... the silver lining here?

  3. This is such a good lesson, Michael. I wouldn't have known the workmanship was inferior, so now I know to look for that. Glad you got your refund.

  4. It does seem this is the future, everything short term and superficial, let it fall apart then replace it. You can see the logic, you can't keep making money if you sell someone a quality item built to last, but it makes for a cheapened existence. The galling thing is they still expect you to play top dollar!


  5. LOL. I just want to give you a little peek behind the furniture business as my family has a lot to do with this (and yes R.C. Willey in SLC carries high-end furniture and is owned by Berkshire Hathaway so this is no small company). The way furniture companies get their furniture is they buy a ton of wood or raw products. All of this is loaded onto a ship and it sets sail for the shores of China. No one knows what will be made from that furniture. No one knows when the boat will come back. The Chinese government does not provide these details. Usually the turnaround for raw products to be made into furniture happens in two years. So off goes a boatload of raw stuff and back comes a boatload of furniture. The warehouse unloads it and off it goes to the showrooms to be tagged and priced. Nowhere in any of that is there actual quality control. It is an illusion passed on to the consumer.

  6. Everyone's cutting corners. Usually you get what you pay for, but that's criminal.
    You'd have a fit if you saw our living room. We have nice stuff, but there's no theme whatsoever.

  7. Modern furniture, like modern relationships, have become superficial and short-term. A sad commentary on our world. I wish you better luck in the couch hunt, Roland

  8. I hate it when something like this happens, it's so frustrating. Love how you tied it into writing. So true!

  9. Wow. Glad you're getting a refund! We've never been able to afford anything new or nice (and frankly, prefer pets to pretty) but I have noticed deteriorating quality over the years. The couches I grew up with lasted 20 years (and I frequently played the game where the carpet was full of sharks, so I had to leap from piece to piece). We've never had one last half that, post 1990.

  10. Wow. Well, good for you for advocating for yourself! Gosh, you just never know what you're getting, do you? Oy.

  11. It doesn't surprise me that they are trying to cut corners really, but I have no idea how a couch should be done as I have only ever bought one brand new and it was a sectional. Otherwise family has always given me sofas.

  12. That is very sad. But that is also the way things are going this days. Right to hell. Cutting corners might be cheaper in the short of it, but in the long run all it does is hurt the company because of the product returns and then where is the profit? Don't people in business think about these things these days? No. They think, well if the product breaks, the customer will just go buy a newer, more expensive item. Win, win!
    And on an off note, I'm uberly jealous of your original 1920's style arrangement. :D
    But very glad you stood up for yourself and that you are getting a full refund.

  13. All those years of loyalty paid off.
    I was just about to offer to house sit but with no sofas, well....
    No fluff can also be boring. I know, I just wrote some of that.

  14. Hey Michael! Just saw that you won a copy of my book. Congratulations. And oh crap... hope you like it.

  15. Sorry about the furniture fiasco. But I'm still waiting to see pictures of your amazing condo. Here's hoping you find the couch of your dreams!

  16. It's called planned obsolescence. Not all shoppers are as savvy as you are Michael and many just figure it's normal wear and tear. Then a few years later they buy new ones because the old ones are in tatters. We do it with cars, computers, etc.

  17. What an awful experience! And what an apt analogy to writing. I know *I* don't want my prose to "sag"!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets