There’s a funny smell coming from my new La-Z-Boy sofa — can I get a refund?

Sofa, reinterpreted. / Photo by A. Golden – Flickr Creative Commons
Question: We recently bought at Gavin La-Z-Time reclining sofa in performance leather from the La-Z-Boy furniture galleries in Greenfield, Wis. The sofa looked great when they delivered it.

But within a few hours we noticed a putrid odor. The best way to describe it is a rotten dead animal smell with toxic undertones. My husband and I developed terrible headaches for the next few days and started developing sinus problems. I also have a serious concern as I have cancer in my sinuses, head, and lung and was afraid the fumes would irritate the cancer even more.

About a week later, I called the store and asked about the odor and if there was anything we could do about it and a representative said the smell should go away in a few days. We could no longer tolerate the odor so we moved the sofa into a different room to let it air out. That didn’t work.

A few days later, I emailed La-Z-Boy customer care and told them about the problem. Someone left us a phone message the next day, but did not leave a phone number and their name was not audible on voicemail, so my husband called customer care back. They told him that they would send a person out to our house to evaluate the problem.

The next week, a representative visited us, told us to fill out a bunch of paperwork and asked us a few questions. He said all he could smell was baking soda. We found that odd because baking soda does not have an odor. We have had several people in our home and they all can smell the odor. Our small four- and seven-year-old grandchildren don’t even want to go out in the room because it smells “yucky” in there.

La-Z-Boy has offered us store credit for the sofa, but they don’t have anything else that we want in the story. Can you help us get a refund? — Vicki Olszewski, New Berlin, Wis.

Answer: La-Z-Boy should have either quickly replaced your foul-smelling sofa or offered you a full refund. Instead, you seem to have gotten the runaround from the company.

La-Z-Boy doesn’t have a company-wide refund policy. Instead, its refund rules are set by each dealership. So it would have been up to the Greenfield store to decide when and how to replace your sofa.

The part of your story that troubles me the most is the exchange between you and the representative who visited your home. If I had a buck for every time an employee told me there was “nothing wrong” with a product I believed to be faulty, I’d be part of the 1 percent. And if I had a dollar for every time something turned out to be wrong with said product — I’d still be rich enough to quit this journalism racket.

Even if your furniture dealership has a strict no-refunds policy, it should stand behind its products instead of telling you something is wrong with your sense of smell. To me, that’s not good customer service. It’s more like bullying you into keeping a flawed product.

If you were as unhappy with that resolution as I am, you could have contacted someone higher up at La-Z-Boy. If you’re not getting anywhere through the “contact us” feature on the website, try someone higher up. Email addresses at La-Z-Boy are

I contacted La-Z-Boy on your behalf. It offered you a full refund for the sofa, minus $262, which covered the delivery fee, the Guardsman fee and applicable taxes (the delivery and Guardsman fees are paid to third parties). La-Z-Boy is also waiving the restocking fee.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Raven_Altosk

    I had a similar problem with a sofa I purchased at a local store in Houston, named Star Furniture. The sofa is a sectional with two recliners. The recliner hardware was installed wrong so the sofa would not close once opened.

    I discovered this immediately upon delivery, and refused to sign for the sofa, but the guys delivering played the “no English” card and just drove away. (Unfortunately, the GF who is bi-lingual was not home at the time, natch)

    Anyway…I immediately called Star. Star told me it was impossible and all their drivers speak English and if I had really refused delivery they wouldn’t have left the couch. The idiot working the phone lines refused to transfer to me a supervisor and told me that she wasn’t going to help me because I was “using an angry tone.” Oh, honey, your driver just scammed me, you sold me defective merchandise, and you think I’m angry now?!

    Right after that, I went to the local store and tried to explain the problem. The saleswoman was more interested in making a sale with another party than dealing with the problem sofa she had sold me, so I walked to the display, and flipped over the couch. Immediately I had four sales people and a manager there. I explained the problem and showed them photos of the underside of my couch. All of this in full view of their other customers, mind you.

    They agreed there was a problem and told me to call customer care. I said I already had and was hoping they would immediately send out a couch that wasn’t broken. They delivered a new one four days later.

    But really!!? This should’ve been resolved with the phone call, not me going to the store and flipping over a couch!

  • Raven_Altosk

    Comments are moderated now!?

  • Nica

    I think they did not even have to come to Mr. Elliott for this.  They could have just went back to the store with their receipt the next day and requested a refund for their purchase.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Why wouldn’t the OP have at least asked for a replacement?

  • Dutchess

    This is one of those instances where the entire amount should have been refunded, obviously this was a defective product from day once, it should never been sold. This family should not have to eat the shipping cost and them “waiving” the restocking fee. How generous. 

    Also a sofa labeled “Performance Leather” should have been your first clue that what you were getting was not real leather. In fact, if you go to the LazyBoy website it has two types of “Leather”, genuine leather and performance leather. While the website doesn’t call performance leather “bonded leather” from the description it most likely is. The smell was probably the adhesives and VOCs used to bond the tiny bits of leather fiber they use to make these fabrics bind to a polyester backing and then coat it and imprint a grain to make it appear more like real leather. 

  • Christopher Elliott

    Yes. I had to make a few changes, all explained in yesterday’s post.

  • BillCCC

    I think they did more than enough. This appears to me to more of a case of buyers remorse than anything else. The OP was a little over the top with the description of the smell and I find it incredible that it only became noticeable a few hours after delivery. I ignored the sentence about her illness which has no bearing on the story at all. Since only a refund would do, I am led to believe that they bought something they either couldn’t afford or didn’t match with their decor. I would not be surprised if the same sofa might be available nearby for a much lower price.

  • gregdane

    I voted “yes,”  but only if the store where the sofa was purchased can replace the sofa with on they want- otherwise, the delivery fee, etc. should be refunded as well since without the sofa these charges would have never been incurred.

  • RITom

    thank you!  This version works on my Windows XP with IE 8, the other one did not.  I rather have a monitor rather then all the silly answers like yahoo does.  As for flyertalk I have not seen the problems there. 

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Its hard to get delivery fees refunded when they are through a third party.  I just returned some defective merchandise to on of Amazon’s 2rd party retailers.  They tried to scam me into paying the return postage.  I made a stink and they apologized and agreed to pay the return postage and credit the deliver fee back.

    But I agree.  If the couch is defective the OP should not be out any fees.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

     I don’t see how you get that at all.  A couch isn’t an impulse purchase that someone buys in the heat of the moment then regrets later.

  • john4868

    Sounds like what the engineers call “outgassing” but you and I call the “new car smell.”

    The only reason I have an reservations on this one is that instead of asking for a replacement, she asked for a return. One would assume that she continued to need a sofa and if she liked the one she bought, she’d just want a replacement. The fact that she didn’t leads me to believe buyer remorse instead of defective product.

    On the flip side, she might have been done with the company after her view of how they treated her.

    No vote from me today.

  • emanon256

    I voted no to this one.  Why would they have to pay the delivery fee, guardsman fee, and tax when La-Z-Boy delivered a faulty product?  If they truly stand by their product, they should eat those costs themselves. 

    In my opinion, Lay-Z-Boy should deliver the same couch again and see if that one smelled better.  If not, they should get a full refund. 

    In this case the OP had to pay $262 and got nothing in return but aggravation.

    I am curious if an animal actual did crawl into the sofa during production and die in there.  And the cemicals they must use in there scare me if they can be smelled long ofter it was manufactured.

  • emanon256

    That just stinks.  I hate it when stores are like that.  I actually had a good experience with a local store recently.  We bought a recliner rocker and when it was delivered, one of the arm wrests had a 3 inch gap, between itself and the cushion and the other was too squished together.  It also rocked side to side instead of front to back.  The driver called the store and they told us to keep it until they could get a new one. So there are some good stores out there.  But sadly, I think they good ones are far and few in between.

  • emanon256

    Do I need to change my name?  I’ts not meant to be anonymous, its actually my former band name.

    Edit: I guess that means my name is okay. BTW, I am not getting e-mail notifications when someone replies now. :( Glad I can go back to I.E.8 with the old Disqus. I.E.9 is a nightmare for work.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    They’re absolutely due everything back, including the delivery and Guardsman fees. It’s not their problem that those fees go to third parties; that’s a business decision La-Z-Boy made.  If La-Z-Boy admits the sofa is toxic, they should cover those costs because it’s absurd for these people to be on the hook for $262 and have nothing to show for it.  This would be a good candidate for small claims court. 

  • EdB

    They owe the people 100% of their money back and they need to send someone out to pick up the stinky sofa.  Why should the customer have to pay delivery charges on a defective item if they don’t bring a replacement? And if the customers are not going to use the sofa, they need to haul it away and that could cost them more money.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    It almost literally would have to of been the next day–La-Z-Boy’s return window is just three days after purchase and they would have been on the hook for up to 30% for a restocking fee.
    Given those return terms, they were practically forced into keeping it and hoping the odor went away. They actually ended up coming out way better financially than returning it immediately, though obviously they had a major hassle.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I suspect that she’s done with the company.  Personally, I understand that sometimes a company screws up and ships crappy merchandise.  That happens.  What’s important to me is how the company remediates the situation.  If they act poorly then I’m done.  I won’t buy a stick a chewing gum from them.

  • Michael__K

    Was this couch an outlier or would any new couch of this model smell exactly the same?  Was this a catalog purchase or was there a floor sample in the store which smelled fine?  Is La-Z-Boy planning to display and re-sell this couch without doing anything to treat the odor?

    If this couch was unusually smelly then the customers should have been offered a replacement delivered free of charge.   If this couch was exactly like any other, then I’d be curious how often other customers have complained about the odor.  Different people can have vastly different sensitivities to smells.  If a distinct minority of customers report an offensive odor, then I think the onus ought to be on the vendor to rectify that or warn about it in advance.

  • BillCCC

    Why would you say that? People buy items like furniture all the time on impulse. It is possible that they found another piece that they liked better after this one was puchased.

  • technomage1

     I agree.  If a second couch did the same to them then it might just be a case of some people being more sensitive to certain odors than others – which would mean that this family would have to be careful in future which products to buy in order to avoid having the same reaction again.

  • Nica

    I actually did not know that – thank you for the information!

  • John Keahey

    Sure they did enough — after you intervened for them. That’s the sad part: It takes a consumer advocate with a national following to get something that individual consumers should be able to get for themselves. Good work, Chris.

  • TonyA_says

    I, too, “recently” bought a leather sofa recliner and chair from La-Z-Boy (during the 40% off Memorial Week Sale). In my opinion, the only difference is that I chose the real leather upholstery, instead of what they claim to be re-cycled leather (???). I think they called it Harmony but I could be wrong. Anyway, the price difference was significant compared to what I considered to be “faux” leather. I also bought the 5 year extra (replacement) warranty.

    The sales people (here in Connecticut) were very nice and professional. They thoroughly explained to us “cooling off” rights. The company delivered and set up the furniture promptly. The guys (in uniform) who came were also very professional and explained to us how the recliner worked (even if we already owned an old recliner from the same company).

    Most definitely, the new leather La-Z-Boy had a strong (rather chemically) smell which lasted much longer than a few days. My only other point of comparison is my Roche Bobois leather sofa and couch which I don’t recall smelled that strong when it was new.

    Anyway, the strong smell went away, I guess a few weeks later. We are very happy we bought them. I must add that we all are asthmatics and the strong smell didn’t make us any sicker.

    So the question here is should a buyer be able to return a NEW leather sofa because it smelled of NEW leather ??? In my opinion NO. Why? Because leather smells since it comes from an animal’s skin that goes through a tanning process.

  • mbods

    I don’t think it’s right that weren’t refunded the other charges that totaled over $200.  None of this is their fault they’re stuck with those fees.  Sounds as though Lazy Boy doesn’t really like their customers!  They should have taken care those costs too!

  • Cybrsk8r

    Didn’t go with their decor?  Unless you’re Stevie Wonder you pretty much know if something is going to fit in with the rest of the furnishings in your house.

  • $16635417

    Strangely enough I had a similar problem. A friend bought a new chair and could not stand the smell. It smelled exactly as the OP described. He wanted to put it on the curb after unsuccessful dealings with the store.

    I took it off his hands and put the chair in the garage of a house we were moving into and left it. I would take it outside in the sun on weekends when I was working on the house for the month before moving in.

    By the time we were ready to move in, the smell was gone. Of course, not everyone had the luxury of storing it in an empty garage and taking it out for the weekends. 

  • Mel65

    I like it… I couldn’t follow the other DISQUS very well and couldn’t post on my work computer due to IE incompatibility before, but now I can! Yay me.

  • TonyA_says

    Why don’t you just remove comments you believe are offensive?

    Also, why do you think your site will be like Flyertalk? I am not a registered member of Flyertalk but I go there occasionally just to check what’s going on. For the large part, all I can see is a lot of folks with a similar passion having fun.

    I am not sure the protection of a few (because they don’t like the negative arrow signs or cannot take insults) is worth changing the dynamics of your great website when, now, all comments need to be moderated. Maybe you just need to take down the negative (don’t like) signs. In my opinion, that’s the change that caused most of the trouble and bad feelings.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    First, I almost didn’t read any more of this when the OP said, “…
     I have cancer in my sinuses, head, and lung and was afraid the fumes would irritate the cancer even more.”
    After I read that, I was wondering where the violins were.  Several other people had said the odors were prevalent, otherwise I’d have assumed it was a problem with the OP and moved on.
    However, other posters bring up a good point: Why didn’t they ask for an exchange rather than a refund?  They still need a sofa and I’m certain the store would have more willingly worked with them had they known the sale was remaining at the store.
    I don’t think this was as much a “defective product” as it was, like others have said, “Buyer’s Remorse”.

  • jennj99738

    The 3 day policy is not uncommon. Macy’s has the same policy which I discovered two days too late.  However, because I chose another chair, Macy’s waived the restocking fee. 

  • ExplorationTravMag

    You’re absolutely correct, Tony.  Everything has an odor of some sort – some are nice, others are not.  Leather goes through processing at a factory and my guess is, they use chemicals.  Would this fall under “caveat emptor”?

  • Mel65

    We had a sofa custom made and delivered a few years ago.  Looked great.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that when the delivery guys were putting it together, they used exacto knives to remove the plastic overwrap and sliced into the cushions.  But they put those cushions cut side to the back of the sova, and I didn’t notice them until a couple of weeks later when I went to flip the cushions (so they wear evenly…it’s a thing).  I called but they were all “well how do we know you or one of your children didn’t cut it?”  Now I check everything, every side, every surface of things I order before I sign; I’m sure delivery people hate me, but never again will I get stuck like that!

  • jennj99738

     Did La-Z-Boy “admit the sofa is toxic?” I didn’t see that.  I doubt the sofa is toxic.  Some people are just more sensitive to out-gassing than others.  I have a Tempurpedic mattress.  Memory foam mattresses have tremendous outgassing when they’re first unwrapped.  Some people cannot handle it at all and immediately refuse delivery.  Others can sleep on the mattress the very same night.  Outgassing doesn’t make it toxic.   What’s clear is that this is not leather.  It’s a form of bonded leather, maybe 5-10% genuine leather at most.  The rest is PU or vinyl.  Stores should clearly state that their imitation leather is just that. 

  • Henriette Schmeikal

    We have had a similar experience with La-Z-Boy furniture.  We purchased a dining room table for 5,000 CAD, including 6 leather chairs.  Before we bought I asked the sales person if this table was a hardwood table top, so it would not be scratching easily, since this was to be used for family gatherings and there were a few kids.  I was assured up and down that it was the hardest wood on the planet and that it would NOT EVER scratch, that is why they had to “age it” artificially.  Because this was something I was really worried about I asked time and time again before we bought.  For additional piece of mind we purchased the warranty.  In addition I used a felt pad and table cloth when we had company – but it basically stayed on the table.

    After our first family dinner I was horrified to find the table had scratches everywhere, even though it had been protected by all this stuff.  Not only this, but some of the chairs (priced at 275.00/chair) had nails poking through the sides and the leather seats! In addition some of the support brackets between the legs broke or fell off.  We called, went in person, showed pictures, debated over the phone with customer service, but basically got the run-around.  Bottom line was apparently the reason my furniture was malfunctioning was because it was being used, and the warranty did not cover anything.  We asked for the money back for the warranty, since they did not cover a thing.  Even the nails protruding were apparently our fault for sitting on the chairs.  I will NEVER purchase anything from this company again.  And yes, the warranty is individual to the store – so, despite trying to go to higher ups, nobody in the chain did anything to solve this problem!

  • Miami510

    I had a similar experience a while back with a Brazilian firm called “Artefacto.”  We bought a beautiful sofa bed for our den and after delivery we noticed a bitter chemical smell.  We reported it to the company immediately and we were told that’s just the “new smell,” of the synthetic leather covering.  
    It was really strong and annoying.  At our next call we were told to air the cushion out of doors… which we did… to no avail.  Nest they sent a specialist who wiped all the surfaces with a cleaner.  Three days later we asked them to take the sofa back, to which they said they could issue only store credit.  As with a previous poster, there wasn’t anything else we wanted in the store.
    I called American Express and had the item charged back to the store.  AMEX was wonderful.  As soon as Artefacto learned of the charge back, they came and picked up the sofa.  

  • Raven_Altosk

    *goes to read…and returns*

    Goes to show you miss a day on elliott, you miss important stuff! :P

  • Christopher Elliott

    No need to change your name. You have made no secret of who you are, and you’re using a registered account. Your comments are welcome here

  • Christopher Elliott

    I’ve posted a few details about why I did what I did:

  • Christina Conte

    I had a similar problem with a sleeper sofa from Jennifer Convertibles a couple of years ago. Paid $150 extra for a memory foam mattress which SMELLED to high heaven of toxic chemicals! Made my mother and I want to vomit (literally, not figuratively.) I called the store to say there was no way I was letting my daughter sleep on the chemical filled bed for 8-10 hours a night and wanted my $ back. Did some research and discovered the memory foam was made in China where there is no regulation in what can go into the foam, and often, chemicals such as formaldehyde are in them! Jennifer Convertibles still refused to refund my purchase even though we could not use it and I said it was a health risk. Ended up putting it in dispute with VISA who made agreed with us, so I did get 100% of my $ refunded. 

    Here’s a really extreme case of chemicals in sofas…buyer beware!!

  • TonyA_says

    It’s like breaking in a puppy or a new car. Or, learning a new device (e.g. ,GPS, tablet or smart phone). We all need some patience. We are now enjoying our La-Z-Boy loveseat and rocking chair. No more smell :-)

  • emanon256

    I am shocked by the 3 day policy. Though I have heard some states have a mandatory 72 hour return policy by law, but I can’t confirm that.  Perhaps their policy is the minimum they can legally enforce? I have been trying to find return policies before making purchases lately.  If a company does not allow a return, then I don’t trust their product.

  • emanon256

    Sometimes its hard to match.  A couch looks much smaller in a warehouse than in a living room. And colors can look different with different backgrounds and different lighting.

    When I bought the recliner, the store suggested I map it out on my floor in tape and gave me a color swatch to take home.  At least that helps.  Recently I was going to buy a rug and the store actually let me take it home and try it.  It didn’t look so good at home, but I thought it would be great when I saw it in the store.  I really prefer companies who try to help their customers make the right decisions.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Maybe he’s been deleting lots of posts before many people saw them? (But usually if they’re that out-of-line you’ll see somebody posting referencing the deleted post and I’ve not seen much of that.) 
    As somebody who reads this site basically every day, I’m puzzled about where all the bad activity was happening.  Somebody called somebody an “idiot” or similar yesterday and immediately had like 10 dislikes versus 0 likes and nobody fed the troll so that was the end of it.  The last real “fight” I recall right off was months ago, so that couldn’t have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

    I do believe the new version of Disqus contributed to negativity with the ability to “dislike” posts, so rolling it back to this version will probably help by itself.

  • Grant Ritchie

    I love you. :-)

  • TonyA_says

    I agree. In the old version we settled our arguments UP FRONT. You can even agree to disagree. But, you can’t simply just hit the dislike key to assassinate the commenter.

    I don’t know what good a forum is if everyone who goes there all agree on everything. It would be a mutual adoration society (very much like watching the coronation of the two presidential candidates).

    Sometimes we get an off-the-wall comment. I liken it to a SCUD missile that falls in the middle of a desert. Some feelings are hurt then it’s back to business as usual.

    We have all seen how the Internet can unleash a worldwide violent reaction (e.g. our Ambassador got killed). But even google refused to remove the “offensive” trailer on youtube. A few ruffled feathers here caused moderation? I wonder if that’s just an over reaction.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

     Because that is sheer speculation. There are absolutely no facts to support that.   Additionally, the OP went through an awful lot of trouble  as well as is lying through her teeth about the smell and even lying about her grandchildren.

    That’s way too much for me to conclude merely because the op may be guilty of a little hyperbole.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

     But we’re assuming that it smelled like new leather. It might have smelled like a teenage boy’s gym socks for all we know.  Given that most people know that new leather has a certain smell, I would assume that that wasn’t the smell.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    In so many words, no. In practicality, I’d argue they did. They waived very strict return policies and took it back. If there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, why’d they do that?  

    But even putting that point aside, the bottom line is that the delivery and Guardsman fee are inseparable from the sofa purchase–without the sofa, the customer derives zero benefit from those. Yet, they’re stuck paying $262 dollars because La-Z-Boy decided they wanted their payroll arranged in such a way that third party employees do those jobs.  If you visited the store/warehouse,  you’d find these third party employees doing their jobs looking indistinguishable from actual La-Z-Boy employees. It’s immaterial  how exactly those people were paid, the point is their work is part of the overall sofa purchase.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s the way La-Z-Boy in Connecticut explained it to us (at the store) when I paid for my order. We had 3 days (72 hours) to CANCEL our order without incurring fees.

    Now here is the kicker … La-Z-Boy usually delivers your furniture several days or a few weeks AFTER your order. That makes the 3-day cancellation policy quite irrelevant since you will only experience the strong smell AFTER delivery.

    In my opinion, the strong smell of NEW leather is NOT A DEFECT. It is characteristic or part of the leather.  It will disappear after a few weeks at most. The OP must have expected otherwise.

    Finally, it should be clear to people who buy La-Z-Boy furniture that the WARRANTY means they will come to your house and fix the problem. They may even REPLACE the furniture if need be. But you cannot just return the item to the store.

    My new leather La-Z-Boy had one tack that needed to be “hammered” in. I did not want to do it myself. So I called the store. A repairman was dispatched and he came and fixed it within a few days. I have owned La-Z-Boys since the 80’s; and from experience we have had more responsive service from them compared to Ethan Allen or Lillian August.

  • Raven_Altosk

     The way a company handles the bad speaks volumes about them in my book. I shouldn’t have had to go to a store and flip a couch to show these idiots how the hardware was supposed to be installed versus the one they sent me. :/

    Conversely, I had a custom shower installed recently and the glass was cut wrong. The owner himself called me and apologized, and then came to inspect the work of his people after the correct size was cut and installed. That shows he cared.

  • TonyA_says

    No Carver, I bought one (or two) from La-Z-Boy this summer and the chemical smell is real STRONG (but not as strong as the smell of Moroccan leather – think horse urine). I have 3 young sons so I know that gym socks smell you are talking about. The odor coming from a bacteria (or mold) is different from the chemically smell of the NEW leather. But I can tell you, the smell will disappear after a few weeks.

    This is a problem of expectation. When I buy real Italian leather from Parri’s in Firenze, it does not small bad. But I will pay a fortune for that leather. If I pay La-Z-Boy $1400 for a leather recliner and they have to use a lot of leather for the chair, I don’t expect it to smell as nice as Italian leather.

    Maybe it is a simple degassing process that is required since the furniture is sealed in huge plastic bags to protect it during storage. But the smell is certainly not one of a decaying animal. I assume it is from the chemicals used in leather processing or treatment.

  • IrishStubborn

    Just curious…why weren’t the taxes refunded?  If they are getting a refund, they should get a refund on the sales taxes they paid, shouldn’t they??  And sorry, but they should have refunded the other charges as well, as they are part of the couch they no longer own.  It means that the company has to eat the cost, but, well, that’s the cost of doing poor customer service.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Actually her illness does have a bearing on this story.  If she is being treated for cancer, why would she want to have an item in her house that has a terrible smell.  It could be a dead animal or it could be some nasty chemicals that cause cancer. 
    If you had cancer, you would feel differently.

  • bc

    Tony, I’m with you, I love the smell of leather. 
    Except this isn’t just a leather sofa. It appears that it’s bonded leather sofa. (When I read the description on the LazyBoy website it confirmed my suspicions). If you’re unfamiliar with bonded leather, they actually take leather scraps and then the fibers are macerated and then recombined with adhesives and binders and then mounted to a polyester backing to form a synthetic material. It then has a coating on top for protection. It’s embossed with animal hide grain to give the appearance of leather. It is most certainly not leather and it can have strong OVCs and strong chemical smells if it’s cheap. It is pretty  controversial calling it leather, in most countries you can’t even use the world leather in association with it. 
    If this was bonded leather there could most defiantly be a nauseating chemical smell associated with it. 

  • David D

    Exactly. It’s not always the initial transaction that is the key – it’s how that store or location handles those “glitches” that help define loyalty. Had a double-billing situation with 2 different hotel franchisees on one trip – one jumped right on the problem and got it fixed by the time I was ready to head out on the next leg of my trip while another basically said “too bad so sad I’m keeping the money” (I did obtain a refund from corporate, however).

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I had to read that part a couple times, but I think the only taxes not refunded were those on the Guardsman fee and/or the delivery. (Guessing the Guardsman must be a stain treatment that’d be figured into the purchase price and taxed, while the delivery would probably be a straight fee tacked on after taxes were applied. At least I think that’s the most common way of handling it, though I know some online stores tax on the total including shipping.)  At least that is my best guess because if the sofa was returned, there’d be no taxes collected on a purchase that never happened.

  • TonyA_says

    The showroom was full of this “cheaper” leather. I believe the idea was to offer a lower price point for folks who want a leather looking couch. While I did not smell the chemicals when I sat on the displays (meaning even the smell of the fake leather will disappear sometime), I noticed they did not feel anything close to my other leather coaches. So I asked the sales person why. He explained that it was “recycled” leather. That went over my head quickly so I asked him where I could find leather that just came directly from a cow and not from a recycling center. He took us to the back of the showroom where the real leather stuff was and the price tag was hidden below the cushions :-) The price difference was several hundred dollars for a chair.

    Anyway I gotta tell you that even the real leather had a noxious chemical smell when they delivered the sofa and chair. I think they must spray something (maybe an anti-fungal) before they put plastic over it. So the first time this thing breathes again is in your living room when they remove the plastic.

    The difference between me and the OP is that I was willing to put up with the smell. I have a couple of Vornado (air movers) and I kept them running “forever”. I recall the smell was completely gone after about 3 weeks.

    I think this is a case of you should have known better if you buy leather or faux leather. If you love leather (like my wife and I and you do) then you will be willing to put up with it. In winter, nothing is better than leather.

    In my opinion, the OP hate for the smell was more than her love of the leather couch. So the leather couch lost.

    I would be careful not to call the smell toxic since that may prejudice other would be buyers thinking of buying leather couches from La-Z-Boy. My mulch pile might smell bad when I forget to turn it but the smell is NOT TOXIC. Carbon Monoxide is clear and has no smell but it is toxic.

  • TonyA_says

    I am not understanding why the product is defective. If the OP bought faux leather and paid the price for faux leather then (as you explained about  bonded leather), wouldn’t the smell of plastic and glue be normal?

    I am not aware of any US consumer law that prohibits the use of “bonded” leather for upholstery. La-Z-Boy even explains what it is so buyers will know what they are buying. What the OP did not know is what NEW bonded leather will smell like. I assume she smelled an older sofa at the showroom.

    I hesitate to call a smelly leather product defective when by design they are smelly.

  • Ann Lamoy

    “taking it out for the weekends.”

    I’m picturing you putting it in the family car and taking it for a drive out into the country. For a picnic perhaps? *grin*

  • jennj99738

    In one word, no.  Caving to Chris Elliott does not mean that La-Z-Boy admits the product is toxic. It more likely means that they know the power of social media.  

    I don’t believe that a company would sell something it knows to be toxic in the case of a couch.  

  • Robert Karpel

    I’m having a hard time with this one since she didn’t want a replacement, only her money back.  And they did refund the money for the couch, minus non-refundable third party expenses.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Raven, you get my vote for the BEST so far this year.  You FLIPPED OVER A SOFA in the showroom?  I will be laughing about this for YEARS.  I think of more of us took action when customer service is run by martians maybe customer service would improve.  You are SO RIGHT, the problem should have been dealt with in a single phone call.  The more we consumers just suck it up and don’t get properly exercised when we’re treated like dirt, the more they get away with it.  I bought an HP laptop several years ago, I had 3 or 4 issues with it.  HP’s message to me, starting with the fact that I had to pay for the phone call, was essentially “Thanks for the money, now eff you”. They wouldn’t even answer simple questions for me.   I got lucky and ran into an HP big shot on a Nile cruise and the the CEO’s assistant called me two days after we got home!  I’m almost looking forward to buying some big expensive thing that isn’t acceptable so I can go turn over a sofa in their showroom.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    The sofa smelled so bad it gave two people “terrible headaches” and she didn’t do anything about it FOR A WEEK?  This is an amazing story.  If the odor is that bad, put the thing out in the driveway.  Call the store, tell them to pick it up within 4 hours and just watch so nobody steals it.  But if it smells that bad, who would steal it?

  • Sandy Young

    As soon as Chris mentioned ‘Guardsman’ I think its going to be a chemical sprayed, or, in the case of leather, wiped on. Runs about $4 in a can but they charge upwards of $100 for this ‘treatment’. Maybe too much was applied in this case. At the very least they could have offered to wipe it down and see if that helped.

  • Ronay

    LaZboy should have reimbursed the Olsewskis’ delivery fee as well, for the sake of good will. Then they could have duked it out with the franchise over the delivery charge, leaving the customer whole. After all, the Olsewskis rightfully had every expectation to receive their purchase in pristine condition, which they didn’t, so why should they have to be out ANY money at all? It’s as though they are being punished because they had the “temerity” to order the sofa in the first place!

  • rhonda

    bought a leather sectional from JcP, & I, my 9yr. old & 2.5 yr. old began having sinus, eye, & skin irritation. found out jcp’s leather comes from china, which means it has dimethyl fumarate in it. furniture from china is outlawed in europe now b/c of this chemical. europe calls it “couch sickness.’ there are more chemicals on/in the couch unassociated w/ the origin. i began w/ an email (paper trail) & asked them to send a chemical specialist, not an employee, to examine it. i also asked for the name of a doctor who specializes in chemical issues associated w/ furniture. they gave me a phone # to call @ JcP, b/c they needed more info. i again replied via email asking what info they wanted. they gave the info they wanted. then JcP told us they would completely refund the couch & pick it up feb. 2. it was a painless & mostly positive experience. i’ve found i need a paper trail. also, by writing instead of calling, my words are more concise. i asked to deal w/ ONLY ONE rep. JcP’s customer service has been very good to us.