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How do you define "detachable"?
A furniture store said that the cover of its sofa bed is detachable, but a customer discovered that removing the cover required the sofa bed to be unscrewed.
Stomper Fran said the salesman did not mention the unscrewing when she and her husband bought the sofa bed on Dec 6, 2020.
She recounted: "I bought a Lottie Sofa Bed from Star Living and was advised by the salesperson that we can top up $299 to get another set of fabric cover so that we could wash the sofa covers and get a refreshed look yearly.
"Just when we wanted to change the covers, we realised it was impossible to remove two of the four pieces of fabric without unscrewing the sofa bed.
"I called Star Living as I thought it was an error (the salesperson told us that the covers were easily detachable as it's just velcro). Star Living said for the two pieces of side fabric, they had used a machine to screw in the fabric into the sofa. They claimed that it's possible to unscrew the sofa to change the covers and then screw it back again.
"Who will go to the extent of unscrewing the sofa bed (perhaps risking safety and durability of the furniture) just to change the covers? For me, it was a clear no.
"I told Star Living that this wasn't made known to us. The salesperson had told us that it's easily detachable – all by velcro. He was the one who convinced us to purchase the covers.
"The manager proposed to send a staff member to help us change the covers (unscrew by machine and screw it back), but we had to pay for the services. I told her my point was I had no intention to unscrew the sofa at all. Even if they sent a staff member to change the sofa for us for free, I also would not want that.
"Throughout the conversation, there was no apology for the 'mis-selling'."
In response to a Stomp query, a Star Living spokesman said that they were aware of the case as the customer had contacted them on Jan 3 to ask how to change the sofa covers for the Lottie Sofa Bed.
"Our sales colleague verbally explained to the couple, but they were not able to accept that they have to unscrew a few parts of the sofa bed in order to replace the covers. We even offered to provide a video demonstration, but this was rejected by them as they insisted on not unscrewing the sofa bed for fear that the stability will be affected despite our repeated reassurances.
"To clarify, the Lottie Sofa Bed is a popular model and we have sold over 140 units since its launch in 2019, and this is the first of such complaints we have received to date.
"As a fact, the Lottie Sofa Bed indeed has fully detachable velcro covers. The user merely has to unscrew a few components when changing the covers and screw them back when done. This is a common fabrication for detachable upholstered furniture, especially sofa beds due to their functionality. As long as the user does it right, the durability of the furniture will not be compromised.
"Hence, the information listed on our website and in our showrooms is accurate and not misleading.
"At our shops, when customers do enquire about how to change the covers, our sales colleagues will explain to them clearly."
"We have tried to verify with the sales colleague if he had indeed overlooked to highlight to the customer that unscrewing is needed during the cover change, but we regret that he too has forgotten what exactly had been communicated considering it was over two years ago.
"Nevertheless, we still wanted to help the customer with his issue. But since the customer has rejected our suggestion to send over a video demonstration and refused to unscrew the sofa bed themselves, we have also proposed to do this service for him at a charge, but this was also outrightly rejected.
"The customer insisted on a refund, but we are unable to accede to this unreasonable request since the sale happened more than two years ago and we did not provide misleading information in any way. Thus the customer escalated this matter to Stomp."
Asked by Stomp about Star Living's response, the customer said: "If a consumer has to unscrew the sofa bed to remove the covers, I question if it is ethical to say it is 'fully detachable velcro covers'.
"Would anyone go to the extent of unscrewing the sofa that is machine screwed together just to change the fabric? We did not want to unscrew the furniture as it is our personal belief that by screwing and unscrewing furniture, it will damage its quality and stability.
"As much as Star Living can reassure us that the quality won't be affected, we also cannot guarantee we won't damage the sofa during the process of unscrewing. For your info, we attempted to unscrew the sofa bed, but it was really hard. That was when Star Living told us have to use a lot of force as it has been machine screwed together.
"They said they have sold 140 units of the sofa bed. We have no issue with the sofa bed.
"What we have an issue with is how the sale of the fabric covers was done. We wanted to just purchase the sofa bed. However, the salesman said to us that the covers were fully detachable. With $299 (approximately half the cost of the sofa bed), we can get a refreshed look every year. It would be as if we have a new sofa bed yearly at just $299. He was the one who convinced us to top up for the extra set of fabric covers.
"We rejected the suggestion of them sending us a video demonstration for us to unscrew the sofa bed ourselves and their ridiculous proposal of charging us a service fee to help us change covers as we would not want to unscrew the sofa bed. If we had known we needed to unscrew the sofa bed to change the fabric, we would not have purchased the extra set of fabric. Hence, the extra set of fabric is now wasted.
"Although the purchase took place in 2020, we only realised it when we wanted to change covers for a refreshed look. We had repeatedly mentioned to the manager that we were not after the refund.
"What we are unhappy with is the unethical sales tactic. Today, it is still stated it is detachable sofa fabric covers on their website with no mention of the need to unscrew."
Update on Jan 26:
After the article was published, the website has since been updated to change the line "Detachable Fabric Cover" to "Detachable Fabric Cover with some unscrewing of parts".