This La-Z-Boy furniture smells!

By | June 12th, 2016

What should Jackie Easley do about her new furniture? The reclining love seat, which she bought after her wedding, smells.

It smells so bad, she can’t use it.

She wants a refund. Can this furniture purchase be saved?

Here are a few details: Easley purchased a La-Z-Boy reclining love seat from one of the company’s stores in Milford, Conn.

“The sofa looks beautiful,” she says. “However, there is an irritating smell being emitted from it. Both my husband and I can’t sit on it or be in the room with it without having eye, throat, nose and lung irritation.”

She asked La-Z-Boy to take the $1,333 sofa back. It refused.

Easley checked the terms of her purchase on her receipt. It didn’t address malodorous returns.

Actually, La-Z-Boy has a return policy. But it doesn’t specifically address smells.

Easley tried to work this out with La-Z-Boy.

The representative who came to the house reported a “new product smell,” not a toxic chemical smell.

The store says some people are more sensitive and it might take a long time to dissipate. They claim it is either the polyurethane cushions or the glue used in the particle board.

However, they claim there is no formaldehyde or any other toxic chemical. They can’t provide me with documentation of all materials and chemicals in the product.

They said, if it gets to a point where you need medical attention, move it to another room. Everyone is different.

They initially said the smell will dissipate in one week. It’s been three weeks.

This isn’t the first smelly furniture case. In 2012, I successfully mediated a similar case. La-Z-Boy has been enough of an irritant that we’ve created a page with customer service contacts.

Only, this time, I’m not sure if this is customer who is just a little sensitive or if the sofa is, indeed, toxic. Our advocacy team asked La-Z-Boy about the smell problem and here’s what it had to say:

Our records show that we did have a technician visit the home in April and reported that the odor was a new product smell (sort of when you get a brand new car).

It does dissipate and we did encourage her to air the room out a bit to help if she was more sensitive. The style and fabric line have been in our product line since 2008 and we haven’t had any issues. In addition, they did not purchase our fabric protection, so there was nothing sprayed on the unit.

In regards to our return policy, I am attaching documentation that includes information on custom orders and was also signed by the customer. La-Z-Boy has a 90 year heritage of product quality products and because we haven’t identified any defects with the unit, we do stand behind our policy.

Maybe there’s a lesson here for all of us. Before you buy something, give it a good sniff. If you feel a little light-headed, skip it. (This obviously doesn’t work if you’re ordering from a catalog.) But you can do a little due diligence online and find plenty of warnings about furniture and smells.

Once furniture leaves the warehouse and is delivered to a home, it loses much of its value. So La-Z-Boy will almost certainly lose money on this transaction if it lets this couple return its purchase. On the other hand, is it fair for the Easleys to keep this foul-smelling loveseat in their living room?

Should I take Jackie Easley's case?

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  • Altosk

    LaZBoy makes their products in China and then ships them to the US. The stink is probably some toxic chemical it came in contact with on the boat. Definitely advocate. And don’t let them tell you it’s “made in the USA.” They may assemble some parts here, but this is definitely a company I had to stop doing business with myself because of “delays” involving purchases being shipped from China.

  • Monica

    I voted yes because you can’t sniff out what you’re purchasing in the showroom.

  • mbods2002

    She said both her and her husband can’t stand the smell. What, are they both sensitive to it? I think it’s a stinky, toxic chair and they should take it back because the customer is unhappy, period. NOW look what’s happened because they’re not customer service oriented. Now WE know about a possible Lazyboy problem….

  • Tom McShane

    I’m really surprised that the Chinese have not set up a new burg called USA. It’d quickly become a giant Workers’ City

  • cscasi

    My first question is, when the product was delivered, did they give it the smell test and ensure everything was OK; no chips, dents, scratches and tears in the fabric, before signing the delivery slip? Had I smelled a noxious odor right up front, I would not have signed the delivery order/slip and they would have had to take the furniture back.
    As I remember, Tempurpedic mattresses went through that odor issue for a while.

    The only other way I would have kept the furniture was if I had a written guarantee from the company store that if the odor did not dissipate within X days, the store would have it picked up and give me a total refund. That said, since they reported the smell and the company sent an inspector out and said it was just the “new” smell; ask the company to send the inspector out again and explain why the same odor is still there at this late date. I don’t like the company stating, “The store says some people are more sensitive and it might take a long time to dissipate. They claim it is either the polyurethane cushions or the glue used in the particle board.”
    I hope you can advocate for them and that they can get their money refunded.

  • Rebecca

    I just can’t vote. I have no idea how bad it smells, and there’s two sides to the story that are equally plausible. It doesn’t seem to be a known issue when I did a quick Google search, and they did send a tech out. The OP could very well have just gotten the one smelly loveseat. Or she could have buyer’s remorse and be using this as an excuse. It is somewhat telling that she wants a refund and not a replacement. If she only wanted a replacement, I’d definitely be less suspicious.

    The lesson here is to always always always carefully inspect anything that’s delivered and never sign and accept delivery until you’re sure that there’s no issues. My experience has been that delivery folks can be very pushy, but you do have to stand your ground. I’ve never personally had to refuse any deliveries, but my mom did once and I’m certain that she saved herself even more grief than the issue she ended up with. If you refuse delivery, you can always initiate a winning credit card dispute. Not so much if you accept and sign the paperwork.

  • AAGK

    3 wks? The company should just go there for an hour and professionally clean the thing. Then if she complains they know it’s her house.

  • Patrica

    I recall something similar in Japan, during the 1950’s or 1960’s… they could then label object made in Usa

  • Patrica

    I’m puzzled as to how cleaning “the thing” would help. The odor may be from contaminants, pesticides, noxious or toxic chemicals inadvertently introduced into the wood/foam/covering of “the thing”… Even though sales people/agents sent out claim that it’s not so, this does happen and on a more frequent basis with Chinese products.

  • AAGK

    I assume a proper shampoo would help, no? If this is just a toxic product then she needs to initiate the return process or have them make her a new one that is less toxic, I guess. I’m not familiar with this company but I am familiar with custom seating- I recently had to have a company make me an entirely new bed after waiting 6 Months for it to arrive. I posted about it on the forum.

  • exactlywatt

    There is a city in Japan called Usa but the made in USA story is false according to snopes.

  • William Leeper

    Actually their foam and steel components are made in the USA. I only know that because I have done work for the company that makes it. Their foam is (mostly) made in Fort Smith, AR by Hickory Springs Manufacturing company. The make the foam from the raw chemicals, and either custom cut it to spec or ship it in bulk blocks as the customer requests. The steel components and fiber components are also made by Hickory Springs in Fort Smith.

  • judyserienagy

    I would put the thing out on the deck for 48 hours. If it still smells bad, load it up in the pickup and take it back to the store. Why should a consumer have to suffer a bad smell and ‘argue’ with a company technician Ridiculous.

    I bought a pair of silk pants several years ago which just reeked of something or other … a silkworm nest? I hand-washed them, hung them in the garage, forgot about them, and 3 months later the smell was nearly gone. Had they not fit so perfectly, I would surely have returned them.

  • William Leeper

    Having experience in the field of foam, it is most likely the polyurethane foam. The foam used is very similar to the spray foam insulation one uses to fill gaps around pipes in their home. A blend of chemicals is poured into a mold, and it will rise and set. Once set, it is cut to length/size/shape and then used as desired; however, before it is cut, the mold liner (usually sheet plastic) has to be removed which is accomplished by spraying with acetone. The foam itself doesn’t usually have much smell after it cures, but the acetone odor can linger for quite some time.

  • Mel65

    I’ll never order from LaZBoy again. When they delivered our sofa and loveseat, they unpacked and used exacto knives to open the plastic coverings on the cushions etc.. outside, then brought it all in and assembled it. It looked lovely, but a few weeks later when I flipped the cushions, lo and behold, several of them had slits on them. When I called, they said too bad–I had no proof they were slit by the delivery crew and maybe it was one of my kids or pets.

  • Kerr

    I’m sure you had some choice words for them!

  • Mel65

    Why, no… I thanked them kindly and wished them a pleasant day! ;)

  • DChamp56

    I own and have owned quite a bit of LazyBoy furniture, and while yes, there’s the “new furniture smell”, it’s neither offensive nor drove us out of a room.
    And contrary to what someone else said, almost all of LazyBoy’s furniture is made right here in the USA.

  • Kerr

    Right. And after you hung up you, immediately confiscated all of Fido’s knives. ;)

  • JewelEyed

    We had a similar issue with my boyfriend’s car. What we ended up doing was leaving the windows open every time it was parked in the garage and cracking a window in the garage. After about a week, it was all better. I’d recommend the same. Stick the sucker in the garage and let it air out. I wouldn’t recommend putting it out in the open at the risk of weather damage.

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