Help! My Pottery Barn slipcovers have faded

Question: I’m a long-time Pottery Barn customer. We bought a condo in Sarasota, Fla., about three years ago and furnished it with a PB Comfort sectional we bought at the Pottery Barn Outlet store in Memphis, Tenn., where we lived at the time.

The sectional came with a sage twill slipcover, but we also purchased a cream twill slipcover, too. There was no damage to the sectional when we purchased it and no indications that the slipcover might be faulty.

We only used the sage slipcover during the winter months of December to February, and then changed to the lighter color. So, in total, the slipcover has only been on the sectional nine months, and much of that time we were not in the condo.

We are two adult, non-smokers who live in the condo. The sectional is in the living room, about 16 feet from sliding glass doors to a sheltered balcony. The sliding glass doors have protective tinting, and the sun does not reach the sectional.

When not in use, the slipcover is stored on skirt clip hangers covered with cotton sheets in the closet of our guest room. The air conditioning remains on with a higher temperature when we are not here. I have never needed to wash the slipcovers.

This fall, when I took the sage slipcovers off the hangers, I noticed that the seat cushions and the back cushions, as well as the section where the zipper is (which is hidden from view) had light yellow hatch marks all over them. The skirt, back and arms do not show any marks. What it looks like is that the fabric has been creased as people sit on it and with their movement, the color has rubbed off. That is the only explanation I can think of.

I want Pottery Barn to replace the slipcovers. I began with a phone call, but then we corresponded via email. So far, they have refused, saying I must have washed the slipcovers. Can you help? — Ricki Le Vine, Sarasota, Fla.

Answer: Your slipcovers may have indeed been faulty, but the problem is time. It’s been three years since you bought the product at Pottery Barn, and it’s unreasonable to expect something you purchased three years ago and use semi-regularly to look the same as on the day it was bought.

But the wear you’ve described goes beyond what you should reasonably expect, and a review of your correspondence with Pottery Barn suggests you were being jerked around — bounced from one representative to another, offered assurances that the problem would be fixed, only to have the promises broken. It’s disappointing to read the email thread and your notes on the interactions between you and the company by phone.

Contacting someone at a higher level at Pottery Barn is a little tricky. The company is owned by Williams Sonoma. You can send the company a tweet at @WilliamsSonoma or email the company through its general email address. But if you want to contact someone at Williams Sonoma, you need to know the “secret” domain name,, so the CEO, Laura Alber, can be reached at

I think you deserved more than an accusation that you washed the covers, so I contacted Pottery Barn on your behalf. A representative called you and offered a 40 percent discount off a new slipcover — not exactly the ideal solution, but better than nothing.

Did Pottery Barn do enough for Ricki Le Vine?

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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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  • EdB

    Did Pottery Barn do enough? In the end, yes. But it shouldn’t have taken you contacting them to do it. I agree with you about the time and expectation. After having to fight with them, will the OP even spend more money at that store?

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    If the fading occurred after year 1, then I’d say, “yes”, the covers may have been faulty. But three years now? Even after occasional usage, three years is a long time. I’m surprised PB offered anything at all. But 40% is probably compensation for the OP. Had they just said at the very first, “Sorry, this is WAY past the intended life of the product”, it probably would’ve been case closed.

  • Jennifer M.

    I couldn’t tell from the PB website, but if the store in Tennessee is a true outlet instead of a retail store in an outlet mall, there is a chance that the item was considered “factory seconds”. In that situation you are getting something that isn’t good enough to be sold in their retail stores, but is offered at a decent discount for as-is condition. So even if the slipcover was defective, that may have been the trade off for the price paid.

  • sdir

    I apologize for the snark, but I just keep thinking “First world problems.” I’ll continue on to that cup of coffee now.

  • doylela1

    Florida? Fabric in sun and heat? 3 years? I am surprised PB did anything. They were lucky.

  • Kairho

    You beat me to it. Seconded.

  • Daniepwils

    This is PB their stuff is supposed to last, a long time. It should have never faded. She purchased those slipcovers with that color, it should stay that color with normal wear and tear throughout the life of the slip covers. It would be one thing if she was washing them everyday and they faded, but I doubt that was the case.

  • John Baker

    Sorry but the OP states that she purchased the item from an PB Outlet store. By definition, items end up there because PB was unable to sell them in their retail stores (note some retailers actually have Outlet only brands that lack the quality of their retail brands). Because this was an Outlet purchase, there’s no way to know if she purchased a close out slip cover or a damaged slip cover (it maybe that the slip cover was in the outlet store because PB knew it wouldn’t last as long). The purchase was years ago.

    Unfortunately, this is the risk you take purchasing from an outlet. It’s nice that PB gave the OP a discount but I don’t think it was earned.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Exactly what I was thinking. Outlets frequently get items that didn’t make the grade. And much of the rest of the stuff they get is because sales didn’t do as well as expected–possibly because an item has problems that led to lots of returns.

    We have a blanket from Pottery Barn. And it’s…a blanket. Not amazingly great in any way, just has a PB label on it which made it 4 times the price of the same item at Target. Wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been on clearance and nothing about it would make me pay a premium to get another one from them.

  • James Orth

    PB’s offer of 40% off on purchase of new slip covers is essentially saying that op got 60% of the value in 3 years and that 5 years is reasonable life expectancy for this product. How long exactly do you think they should have lasted?

  • naoma

    Picture looks like the family dog used it as a rest area. Personally, I do not think dogs belong on furniture — but some people do.
    Because I live in an all white house I have no animals present. We remove our shoes before we enter — anyone who comes in is given
    slippers (like at the airport — those things they use). And, believe it or not my house is as white as ever. If you try the “no shoes” deal you will be amazed at how clean your home remains. Other countries check their shoes at the door.

  • Guest

    Sounds like you have made a house. Sure doesn’t sound like a home though.

    As for the picture in the story, that is just a stock photo. Not the actual slipcover that the OP is talking about.

  • K. Fox

    This is quite interesting because I also have sage slipcovers on my pottery barn couch which I bought almost 6 years ago (full price from the store). Over the first year i owned it, i noticed a pinkish/yellow fading color as described above. since then, it has gotten way worsenespecially on the inside of them, which proves that it wasn’t from the sun. I only first washed them last year and this fading had happened before I ever knew that they could be washed.
    I have considered buying new slipcovers, but even off eBay it will cost over $1000. Im relieved and saddened to hear that I’m not the only one that this has happened to. It was the first couch I ever bought and one of the largest investments for my new place. I normally take really good care of my things, but I actually thought that it was something I did. This is a company that sells couches for $3600 and replacement slipcovers for $1600 (sale price) for this particular couch. When I bought the couch, it was a huge investment for me and i planned on happily using it for up to 10 years maybe more. If i had known i would have to worry about paying another $1000 plus dollars to buy a new slipcover in 3-4 years, I would have never bought it. Funny enough, I was actually thinking yesterday about where I could sell the couch sans slipcover so I could get rid of the ugly thing and not loose all of my money on it.
    Reading this post angers me more because pb probably knows there is a problem with this color and still sells it. My friends have the same couch (same age, but with cream colored slipcovers) and have had no problems with color changes. In the end I never complained to pb because I thought it was user error. Still, I have told everyone what a waste of money I think the couch was and how much i hate it. i now have multiple friends buying their own new places now and actually was telling a group of co-workers yesterday that they should stay away from pb couches. The offered 40% off is a joke, because they had a sale on slipcovers last month for that much. I understand that you all say these are first world problems, but as a young new home buyer, I put my trust in pb that they would give me a product that was reliable and would last. Instead, I feel taken advantage of.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Suggestion for you: try looking for a place that does upholstery. Many will have fabric swatches that you can look at. Choose a color and fabric you like, and have the upholsterer make you a new slipcover. Much, much cheaper and you’ll be supporting a local business.

  • Rebecca

    My dog is sitting on the couch with me as I read this. I would way rather vacuum every day or two and not have white furniture!

    I remember when I was a kid, I had a friend whose mom had a room no one was allowed in. She would freak out if anyone so much as put a toe in the doorway. Even when I was 6 or 7, I didn’t know why you wouldn’t want to LIVE in your house.

  • Alex

    I voted no, but mostly because the company offers a 30%-40% discount on most products on a regular basis. So, to me, she isn’t getting much in the way of a concession here. How sad they are not standing behind their products.

  • James Orth

    if their products are already marked down the offer would be 40% off that

  • James Orth

    how long have you been in the upholstery business

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’m not. I’ve used upholsterers a few times over 35+ years of maintaining my own home. If you like the style, form and function of a piece of furniture but the fabric is worn or outdated, why not keep it by replacing the fabric or covering it?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    No pets and having people remove shoes is fine by me, but requiring booties? Because your guests’ socks aren’t clean enough to touch your precious floors? Something makes me suspect there aren’t a lot of repeat visitors.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    My parents had a couch reupholstered when I was a pretty small kid. That thing still looked almost like new 20 years later.

  • Blair S

    Pottery Barn does not stand behind their products! I had a PB basic slipcover couch and the springs started to sag, the pillows collapsed and the frame was creaking. All three things were clearly covered in the lifetime warranty of the frame which is made by Mitchell Gold. Even an email to the CEO was met with the run around by a junior customer service agent who was unable and unwilling to make a bad situation any better. Laura Alber hides behind her email address and is not willing to deal with customer concerns, I even tired calling their office in San Francisco to resolve the problem with no luck. She is paid over 13 million a year and and only appears to be interested in appearing CNBC.

    I replaced the $2,000.00 PB couch with a $500.00 Ikea one that is more comfortable and looks the same.

  • Travelnut

    A lot longer than three years. This isn’t a $30 coffee pot we’re talking about. A sofa, and by extension the slipcover that is made of the same upholstery material, is a huge investment and the expectation is that it should last many years. I bought a name brand sofa in 1996. The upholstery, safe for spills and wear & tear that I blame myself for, looks like the day I bought it. If I’d paid that much, used the product only occasionally, and took excellent care of it, and it was shot in three years? Oh yes, I would be royally pissed.

  • JewelEyed

    $1000 for slipcovers? That’s absurd. That fabric can’t possibly be worth that much.

  • JewelEyed

    It’s common in Asian households to offer actual slippers for guests to wear so they don’t have to walk around in stocking feet in the house after they take their shoes off if they would rather not. If you’re offering them for the guest’s comfort, that’s nice. If you’re requiring it, it’s way over the top.

  • Lakota2

    send them to a dye shop. i dyed my faded denim pb basic sectional covers at a place in oregon & they are awesome. google dye slipcovers & get some quotes.. i worked at pb for a year and bought my sectional w/ the employee discount of 40%!!! that’s how much their stuff is marked up!