Design defect in American Leather sleeper sofa sold by Jordan’s Furniture

By | February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

Legal Department
Jordan’s Furniture
450 Revolutionary Drive
East Taunton, MA 02718-1369

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to you about a design defect in a piece of furniture sold to me by Jordan’s Furniture. This defect is sufficiently serious and egregious as to violate both the implied warranty of merchantability and warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. After explaining the problem below, I will explain how I expect you to compensate my wife and me for it.

In November 2007, we purchased an American Leather sleeper sofa at your store in Natick, MA. Several months after the sofa arrived, the end of the zipper holding one of the cushions began to separate from the back of the sofa, so we called and scheduled a technician to come look at it.

He said it could not be repaired and the sofa would have to be replaced. The model was no longer available, and rather than replacing our defective sofa with the closest equivalent, you instead gave us a credit for the original purchase price and told us we could use it toward the purchase of a replacement. The problem was that the new model cost $420 more. In other words, you sold us a defective sofa and then expected us to pay over $400 to replace it within their warranty period.

Needless to say, we were unhappy about this, and we complained. A customer service representative agreed for Jordan’s to absorb half of the incremental cost of the replacement sofa, thus reducing our out-of-pocket cost to $210. We accepted this offer with reservations.

Additional details about the events described above are available on my blog at <>.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when the same zipper on the same cushion on our replacement sofa began to separate from the sofa in exactly the same way. Not only that, but because of the separation, the zipper comes undone when people lean back on the cushion.

Although I have waited until today to contact you about the issue, primarily because I was so annoyed and angry about its recurrence and about the way you handled it the first time, note that this second failure occurred within a year after we purchased the replacement, i.e., within your one-year warranty. I mention this to buttress my claim, but the substance of my complaint does not depend on it; implied warranties of merchantability and fitness are not bound by the time limits in a merchant’s explicit warranty.

It is clear at this point that the failure of the first sofa was not due to a defect in that particular unit, but rather to defective design. The weakest part of the zipper is situated in the middle of the sofa, where the cushions bear the most weight. It simply cannot handle it. In short, we’ve paid almost $2,700 for a sofa whose faulty design guaranteed that it would fail prematurely, i.e., before the end of the reasonable, expected lifetime of the product.

The other cushion does not have this issue because the insertion pin of that cushion’s zipper is located at the end of the sofa rather than in the middle. Through a trivial design change, i.e., making both zippers zip from the end and meet in the middle rather than making both zip in the same direction, the manufacturer could have significantly mitigated the problem. I say “mitigated” rather than “solved,” because even with this suggested change, it is not clear that the zippers chosen by the manufacturer are sufficiently durable to bear the weight of people leaning on the cushions for the life of the sofa.

I urge you to seriously consider the substance of my claims about the defect in this product. I hope that you will work with the manufacturer to remedy it as soon as possible; if that cannot be done, I hope that you will stop selling the product. I am sure you do not want to be in the business of selling expensive furniture which you know to be defective and likely to fail before the end of its useful life.

As for my wife and me, our demands are simple…. If we had known that our replacement sofa was going to break in exactly the same way as the original, we would never have asked for the replacement. Therefore, we expect you to reimburse us, in the form of an actual refund and not a store credit, for the $210 we were forced to pay for the replacement.


Jonathan Kamens

P.S. This letter has been posted on my blog at <>.

CC: Bob Duncan, CEO
American Leather, Inc.
4501 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, TX 75236-4600
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9 thoughts on “Design defect in American Leather sleeper sofa sold by Jordan’s Furniture

  1. Tom Kaplan

    You sound like a lawyer. Would you have any interest in organizing a class action law suit?

    I’ve had the same problem with the zippers on an American Leather “Inspiration” sofa purchased at Jensen Lewis in New York. Zippers on three of the four cushions have broken, some in multiple places.

    When the first zipper broke, they offered to send the cushion back to the factory for repair, which was supposed to take 6-8 weeks. I wasn’t happy about having a gaping hole in my living room for two months so I fixed it with a safety pin instead. Now that zipper has broken in another place and two other cushions have broken cushions.

    At this point, I don’t really want them to replace the zippers with new ones of the same design since they will obviously break again. I hoped that with such a blatant flaw, the company would have a recall to install a better solution.

    I was trolling the web to see if there was a recall and found your blog. It sounds like American Leather uses the “squeaky wheel” approach to handle these issues. I have neither the time nor inclination to squeak loud enough and long enough to get a satisfactory solution.

    Do you have any interest in leading a class action?

    1. jik Post author

      I am not a lawyer, and it was Jordan’s Furniture, not American Leather, who replaced my defective sofa. Have you tried complaining to Jensen Lewis?

  2. Anonymous

    sounds crazy but i hope all is satisfied now… that’s is quite a dent in the industry.
    well, that’s a good insight for clientele explanation and information resource option.
    <a href=leather furniture cleaning ma

  3. Michael Robinson

    I have been selling American Leather Comfort Sleepers for many years and firmly believe in the product. The issue this consumer had with the zipper is a rare one and very unfortunate. I have had this happen only once in the last five years and Unique Interiors with the help of American Leather had the zipper replaced and replaced within a few weeks of the reported damage. Remember your warranty is only as good as the store you purchase from. Read my blog for more info

    1. jik Post author

      If there had been no problem with the design that used zippers, then American Leather would not have obsoleted that design and replaced it with the current design that uses baffles.

      Furthermore, when I went to Jordan’s the most recent time to get my sofa replaced with one with baffles, the salesman with whom I dealt told me explicitly that they had had a lot of problems with the zippers, and that they pressured American Leather to change the design, and that Jordan’s is a large enough retailer that when they have problems with a design and pressure a manufacturer to do something about it, they tend to get results.

      All of this, combined with the fact that the zippers failed in exactly the same way on two different sofas, makes me rather doubt your claim that this issue “is a rare one.”

  4. Pingback: Jordan’s finally makes good on defective sofa « Something better to do

  5. Sofa Shopper

    So, what was the upshot? How did they respond?

  6. David

    Agreed…I refuse to buy from Jordans. We just replaced ALL the furniture (spent a pretty sum of money too) in our living room this past summer, and – while we love to take our kids to the Reading Jordan’s for the water fireworks and bean-town every now and then – my wife and I both clearly emphasized to each other … within minutes of our first talk about furniture replacement … that neither of us thought Jordans should even be considered as a place we would buy from. This was a simple decision which was emphatically reached simply because they’d put my sister and her family through quite a nasty and rude ordeal to get a sleeper-sofa they’d purchased there fixed when it started to visibly come apart … within the warranty period! They actually had a person come out to their place to look at it and try to convince them “that’s normal…you shouldn’t worry about it”. I saw it…it was not normal…it was very clearly coming apart due to bad quality in either design or materials! They too were given a store credit and ended up “buying up to a better model” in order to try avoid the same issue, and ended up with a product that also has had it’s defects…but small enough that they’ve simply not had the desire to go through the same ordeal with Jordan’s to try to get it fixed. I’m not normally a vulgar guy, but the guy’s who run Jordan’s and decide their business practices are ones that I’ve used language not fit to print here…and I still consider it a proper labeling to this day.

    My recommendation to anyone is 1) don’t buy from them. 2) If you DO buy from them: Use a credit card that will do a full chargeback for you should the product prove defective IN ANY WAY within the warranty period…and plan on simply doing that chargeback should Jordan’s decide to give you a hassle about it! Call your credit card company before you go to the store and verify they will do this for you should the store give you hassle about a defective product!

  7. Camilla

    I have a long sad tail of a failure of Jordan’s to do a warranty repair on our couch. I gave up on getting it fixed (and on Jordan’s altogether) because I was feeling too scattered to keep escalating.

    The summary of our issue is that the fabric ticking on the surface that the cushions sit on is covered under the ‘surface treatment’ warranty, which stipulates that you must call them within 24 hours of the problem occurring. And since this fabric tore in a wear-related manner (it couldn’t take the tension it was under), and it’s hidden from view, I couldn’t pinpoint when exactly the failure happened, and they refused to repair it under either warranty.

    I do hope you manage to nail it to them.


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