Safety warning: Jordan’s Furniture / Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed risk of collapsing ladder

By | March 10, 2009

Executive Summary

The Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed, sold by Jordan’s Furniture and other furniture retailers, has a dangerous safety defect with the brackets with which the ladder is attached to the bed.  Jordan’s Furniture failed to adequately address this defect when notified about it.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently investigating.  I am posting this article to warn the owners and potential owners of this bed about this safety defect.

Details

A year or so ago, my wife and I bought a Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed from Jordan’s Furniture in Natick, MA.  The bed was delivered to us in February 2008.

Early in 2009, I noticed that one of the two metal brackets from which the ladder hangs on the bed was broken.  The break was not obvious, because the bracket is sheathed in plastic to minimize scratches to the bed’s finish.  Although the plastic sheathing was holding the broken part of the bracket in place, the bracket was not actually supporting any weight.

This is a serious safety issue.  A ladder with a broken bracket could collapse at any time, risking serious injury to the person on the ladder and anyone under or near it.  Weight-bearing components need to be designed with a large enough safety margin to ensure that critical components won’t break in normal use.

I contacted Jordan’s Furniture and made three requests:

  1. Repair or replace our broken ladder immediately.
  2. Take steps to ensure that what happened to our ladder doesn’t happen to anyone else.
  3. Convince me that the issue has been adequately addressed, or I will have no choice but to file a complaint with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Jordan’s replaced our broken ladder very quickly indeed — they sent out a crew with a new ladder on their very next delivery day.

However, they did nothing at all to address the larger issue, i.e., that if this could happen to us, then it could happen to anyone else who has bought this particular bed, and something needs to be done about it.

A representative of Jordan’s informed me that their Director of Quality Control examined our broken ladder and discussed it with the manufacturer.  Also, they claimed to have checked their customer service database and found no other reports of similar incidents from other customers.  Finally, they sent me a copy of an independent laboratory certification purporting to show that the bed was safe.

I have no way of knowing whether they were telling the truth when they claimed that no one else had reported similar issues.  However, even taking this claim at face value, it is mostly irrelevant for a number of reasons:

  1. The beds haven’t been on the market for very long, so it is possible that the failure of our ladder presages many failures to come, and some of them will probably cause injuries.
  2. As noted above, it is not obvious when one of the brackets has broken, because the broken piece remains held in place by the plastic sheathing.  We were lucky to notice the problem, and it’s likely that there are other broken brackets whose owners haven’t noticed.
  3. Even a single failure suggests a design failure which must be investigated to ensure the safety of other purchasers of this product.

Concerning the laboratory certification, while it confirmed that the bed conforms to three standards for bunk bed safety, ASTM F 1427-06, CFR 1213, and CRF 1513, none of these standards addresses requirements for bunk bed ladders; they deal mostly with gaps in the guard rails and between the mattress and the bed frame.  Therefore, the certification is irrelevant to the question of whether the ladder brackets are safe.

I pointed all of this out to them, and that’s when they stopped responding to my emails.  Therefore, I filed a complaint with the CPSC as I had told Jordan’s I would if they failed to adequately address the issue.

A couple of weeks after I filed my complaint, a CPSC product safety investigator called to speak with me about it.  He made an appointment to come to my house to see the bed in person, although I could no longer show him the broken ladder, since Jordan’s had taken it away when they brought the replacement.  That appointment was today, and the investigator left my house a few hours ago.

The CPSC does not have the resources to investigate every complaint they receive.  It seems clear from the fact that the CPSC is investigating my complaint at all, let alone that they responded so quickly, that they consider it significant.

Consumers should consider this issue carefully before purchasing the Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed.

If you already own one of these beds, then I urge you to monitor the condition of the ladder brackets carefully and to demand repair or replacement from the retailer immediately if one of them breaks.  You may also wish to contact the retailer and ask what is being done to address this issue.  Depending on how much it concerns you, you may even wish to ask the retailer to take back the bed and refund your money if they cannot prove that the ladder is safe.

I will post any new information I receive about this issue.

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23 thoughts on “Safety warning: Jordan’s Furniture / Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed risk of collapsing ladder

  1. Aj Stiffler

    My brackets broke as well. But I replaced them with some I found at Home Depot. This bed was very expensive and I would not buy it again. The paint scrapes easily and the wood indents easily, I only have one child using the bed (unless friends are over) and it looks pretty beat up after 3 years.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed still unsafe | Something better to do

  3. Pingback: Pulaski Build-A-Bear loft bed: another safety issue « Something better to do

  4. Melissa

    P.S. I only have one child so I’m interested in just purchasing the loft alone. thnx

    Reply
  5. Melissa

    I hope the company has remedies this by now. 3/5/11. We’re also interested in purchasing this bed for our daughter who is 5.5. I will call manufacturer before purchasing. Can anyone tell me what is the height from the floor to the bottom of the bed. basically who can stand under it? just my daughter or an adult also? also I saw one selling for $1,535 is that an ok deal? any other insight is appreciated, thank you.

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      The height from the floor to the bottom of the bed is a little over four feet. An adult can’t stand under the bed.

      We paid $1,647 total for the loft bed, shelves, drawers, desk and desk chair.

      Reply
  6. tow

    Thanks for the info.We just purchased the bunk bed and are waiting for delivery. I will ask Raymore’s if the problem has been corrected. Will keep an eye on the brackets!!

    Reply
  7. jik Post author

    Hi Jenni,

    Sorry to hear about the trouble you’re having with your Build A Bear bed. Can you ask the people from whom you bought it which retailer they bought it from? If you’re very lucky, perhaps the sellers still have some paperwork related to when it was bought new, so you can prove where it was purchased. If you can tie it to a particular retailer, then you may be able to convince them that it’s a serious safety issue and it would be in their best interest to fix it at their expense.

    Aside from that, I would send Pulaski a letter and tell them that (a) you’ve discovered on the Internet that there have been other reported cases of these brackets failing, (b) you intend to file a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and (c) it would be in Pulaski’s best interest for you to be able to indicate in that complaint that Pulaski had voluntarily addressed the problem, rather than that they had refused to do so.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  8. Jenni S.

    I contacted Pulaski Furniture Co. about the broken brackets and got nowhere. I was told I could contact a local dealer, but I would need to purchase the entire ladder! DUH! I am NOT going to purchase an entire ladder when the only thing wrong is 2 small brackets. Guess I will move on the Consumer Safety Commisison.
    In the mean time… Does anyone have any suggestions to make this ladder useable?

    Reply
  9. Jenni S.

    We just bought a used Build A Bear loft bed for my daughter. She has only used it for a month and I notice that the ladder bracket looked bent. When I tried to straighten it, it broke. I LOVE the bed, but I need free replacement brackets. These should come from Pulaski furniture Company, as they are the manufactuer.
    If I don’t get anywhere with Pulaski I will contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Reply
    1. Dennis G

      Jenni

      Did you get anywhere with Pulaski on the ladder brackets for the loft
      bed?

      Reply
  10. Jo Morris Bunk Beds

    Wow

    I can’t believe I missed this post for so long, i usually find bed related posts pretty quickly. Sadly I had not heard of this defect yet, with your permission i would like to make my readers aware of your post and information about this.

    I think it’s terrible when companies decidde to disguise the truth about such matters and do not eal with the matters head on. Look at Toyota who managed to turn their product recall into a positive message and sales have been unaffected in the long term – in fact many think they may even be better. It’s a shame other manufacturs do not follow suit.

    Jo

    Reply
  11. Lisa S

    Thanks for this info. We were looking at how to order a replacement bracket for our daughter’s bunk when we saw this blog. We will check back with Raymour and Flannigan and also file with consumers product safety office. Thanks – Lisa

    Reply
  12. jordansucks

    Jordan furniture matress department is horrible. their sleep techs promise they know what they are doing. When you are unhappy with the mattress, the manager Jean just says “the decision is up to the customer, you cannot count on the sleep tech”. The sleep tech lets you believe they know what they are talking about, but when when you have an issue. Jordans fall back on excuse the sleep tech don’t know what they are talking about.

    Reply
  13. jik Post author

    Andy,

    Please file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission at https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx. The more reports they get, the more likely they are to take the issue seriously.

    If you send me your contact information privately ([email protected]), I’ll forward it to the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigator who handled my complaint, so he can follow up with you as appropriate.

    Reply
  14. Andy

    I have the build a bear bunk and I just noticed my brackets are broken on both sides after 18 months. I do not know how long they have been broken. Since it is out of waaranty, I can’t wait to hear what the retailer has to say.

    Reply
  15. FR

    This is certainly informative. We are very interested in purchasing one of these Pulaski loft beds for our daughters. We will definitely have to think about the stated concerns and safety issues.

    Reply
  16. Charlotte

    Thank you for your comments regarding the bunk bed ladder. We just looked at one today – 3/30/2009 regarding purchasing it for a 4 year old (using the lower bunk for now) and found your blog very informative. We are still deciding on the purchase. Charlotte

    Reply
  17. jik Post author

    The bracket is made to hold the ladder in place, but the angle of the ladder resting on the floor and the top resting against the siderail is suppose to bear most of the weight.

    I think you need to take a closer look. I examined the ladder on my kid’s bed not thirty seconds ago, and the entire weight of the ladder at the top is being borne by the brackets. No part of the ladder except the brackets is in contact with the bed.

    I can tell you from experience this is not an issue that happens often.

    Metal fatigues. The question isn’t whether it has happened often in the past but rather whether it is going to start happening often (relatively speaking) in the future, as the beds that Pulaski and Jordan’s have been selling for the past year or so start to age.

    The fact that it happened even once proves that there is something wrong with the design or quality assurance on these beds. As I noted before, a component as safety-critical as the brackets attaching a ladder to a bed should be sufficiently over-engineered to ensure that something like this simply can’t happen.

    Reply
  18. Richie

    I have delivered thousand of these beds personally. This is the first instance of a broken support bracket I have heard of. The bracket is made to hold the ladder in place, but the angle of the ladder resting on the floor and the top resting against the siderail is suppose to bear most of the weight. I can tell you from experience this is not an issue that happens often.

    Reply
  19. Jen

    Our ladder-end bunk bed didn’t come with a ladder, so I had one made (I needed a nonstandard angle due to the size of the kids’ room) and bought brackets at … um, that wood craft store in Somerville…for maybe $2 each. I find it very hard to understand how on earth the brackets for yours could have been broken!

    Reply
  20. jik Post author

    Even when the ladder goes all the way to the ground, as ours does, the junction between the ladder and the bed needs to bear weight. As you climb higher on the ladder, you put more and more torque on the top. It may not need to bear your full weight, but it definitely needs to bear some of it.

    Also, since younger kids have trouble climbing straight vertical ladders, many bunk bed ladders are at a significant slant — ours is something like 30-40 degrees from the vertical. When you start climbing, most of your weight is on the bottom of the latter, but by the time you get to the top, most of your weight is on the brackets.

    Reply
  21. abbasegal

    I don’t get why bunk-bed ladders need weight-bearing brackets at all! We have a bunk bed, and the ladder hung from the top bunk to a few inches above the ground. Why couldn’t they have built the ladder to go all the way to the ground, so the weight would have been borne by the ground, with the brackets just keeping it in place? (notice the past tense — I actually almost destroyed the ladder by unthinkingly climbing up it, when I realized that those two little brackets were trying to bear *my* weight — we then packed away the ladder and our daughter climbs up the foot-side rails, which are spaced like a ladder, and transmit all the weight to the floor!).

    If I ever buy another bunk bed in the future, I will ensure that the ladder supports the weight on the floor, not on any brackets.

    Reply

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