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.
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:
- Repair or replace our broken ladder immediately.
- Take steps to ensure that what happened to our ladder doesn’t happen to anyone else.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.