Ashley Furniture customer service fail: Where’s my full contract?

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Christopher Elliott

Something is wrong with the Kennebec biscuit back power recliner Bob Welsh bought from Ashley Furniture.The plush seat, which features a power reclining mechanism and a hidden storage armrest with cup holder, just didn’t look right in Welsh’s living room — and he let the company know within 72 hours of delivery.

That’s when he discovered what was wrong, according to his daughter, Diane Hudnall.

It turns out Welsh, who is 92 years old, didn’t get his entire contract from Ashley Furniture. A representative led him to believe he had three days to return the Kennebec biscuit back power recliner. But the contract — when he finally saw it — said otherwise.

Can Welsh still return his chair?

That’s what he wants to know. And his question will draw us into Ashley Furniture’s world. Welsh might say it’s a dystopian reality of Ashley Furniture customer service complaints and lawsuits that you should warn your parents about before they buy their next recliner. Maybe you’ll agree.

Dad doesn’t like his Ashley Furniture recliner

This summer, Welsh paid $887 for a black polyester recliner from Ashley Furniture.

Ashley Furniture describes the Kennebec recliner as being “plushly padded in all the right places” and “pure delight.” It comes with comes with a power-operated recline mechanism, a hidden storage armrest and a cup holder. It sounds like the perfect chair for someone like Welsh to relax in and watch TV.

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But, says Hudnall, it was not what he wanted.

“He didn’t like it,” she says.

Fortunately, an Ashley representative had told Welsh that he could return the furniture within three days. And don’t worry — that guarantee is in the one-page contract you just signed.

So when Hudnall tried to help her father return the recliner, she thought it would be a quick text message exchange. Welsh had found a more suitable chair at Ashley and wanted an exchange.

Hudnall: My dad does not like the chair, so I have to return it. Please advise on what I need to do to return the chair.

Ashey Furniture representative: You will want to come in the store tomorrow when the manager is there for approval.

Hudnall: How will we get the chair back and what time? My husband and I can maybe get it in the back of my minivan.

Ashley Furniture representative: If it’s delivered then delivery will pick it up. The manager will go over the details with you. Just bring your receipt. That’s all.

Yes, you can exchange the chair. Wait — no you can’t!

Hudnall visited the Ashley Furniture store that weekend. A manager told her there would be “no problem” exchanging the recliner.

“But then, two weeks later, the company denied the request,” she says. A representative called Welsh and said the manager had made a mistake — the chair was sold “as is” and could not be returned. This, despite the fact that several Ashley representatives had assured Welsh he could return the chair within 72 hours and receive a full refund.

“There is nothing on the receipt, nor were we told anything about this chair being as is,” says Hudnall.

Was the recliner really an “as is” item, which is normally reserved for heavily-discounted and discontinued items? Welsh paid $887 for the recliner. The chair, still sold by Ashley, now retails for $680 on the Ashley Furniture site.

What does the contract say?

Whoa. Wait a minute. Let’s have a look at that contract!

“Ashley Furniture only gave my parents one page of a four-page contract when they purchased the chair,” says Hudnall.

She asked for the entire contract, which says that if she notified Ashley Furniture within 72 hours of purchase, it would repair or replace the chair. But by then, the 72 hours were up.

Ashley Furniture doesn’t have a uniform return policy for its stores. As it explains on its site,

If you purchased in a store, check the terms and conditions provided to you at time of purchase (sometimes they are located on the back of your receipt). Each store is independently owned and operated; therefore, they set individual policies regarding returns and exchanges. Please contact the store where you made the purchase.

“I have reached out to many people and they have all told me it is out of their hands,” says Hudnall. “The request is denied.”

But hang on a second. The store only gave them one page of a four-page contract. The Ashley Furniture reps told them one thing — that they could return their recliner — but then denied them a return because of a contract they didn’t even have.

Is that even legal?

Ashley Furniture Reviews
Ashley Furniture Reviews on Trustpilot.

Does Ashley Furniture have good customer service?

No, according to the customer reviews. Ashley Furniture customer service complaints are a dime a dozen.

Trustpilot rates Ashley Furniture “bad,” giving it 1.3 out of 5 stars. The reviews are almost uniformly bad — or, as one commenter put it, “America’s #1 furniture store has #2 customer service.” Ok, then.

Even Ashley Furniture’s own Facebook page is defaced with negative reviews (3.5 out of 5).

“This is by far the WORST company I have EVER dealt with!,” one commenter wrote. “DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY shopping with these people! The customer service is AWFUL! The quality of the furniture is AWFUL and they are deceitful and screw you out of your money!”

Ashley’s response seems genuine — “We are very disappointed to hear this and sincerely apologize for your experience” — until you realize that it says the same thing after almost every negative comment. It’s a cut-and-paste apology.

Is there a class action lawsuit against Ashley Furniture?

It probably won’t come as a surprise that Ashley Furniture is facing a class action lawsuit brought by consumers.

One of its customers, Stephanie Alberl, alleges in a lawsuit that Ashley Furniture engages in false advertising by creating fictitious “original” prices and then discounting them. This leads customers to falsely believe they are purchasing furniture at bargain prices, the lawsuit alleges.

Alberl says she bought a metal twin bed and mattress from the company’s website, listed on “sale” for $96. That’s a savings of $63 from the original list price, according to the lawsuit. She says she purchased the bed because she thought the discounted price would not last long.

“However, this product was never offered for sale at the original price listed on Ashley Furniture’s e-commerce website,” the lawsuit alleges. “Nor was it listed for sale at the full price in an Ashley Furniture brick and mortar store.”

How do I reach Ashley Furniture customer service?

If you have an Ashley Furniture customer service complaint, reaching the company is easy. As noted, its representatives are responsive to both phone and text messages.

But its key customer service executives, notably its vice president of customer service and CEO, are not easy to reach. Neither makes their email address or phone number readily available for customers who have a problem.

Ashley Furniture customer service is not answering. What do I do?

One common problem customers seem to have: Ashley Furniture customer service does not answer them.

I hear you. I spent several hours trying to find executive contacts for the company. And I concluded that they don’t want to be found.

But that didn’t stop me. Here are the names, numbers and email addresses of the key customer service executives at Ashley Furniture. You can reach out to them with your Ashley Furniture customer service complaint.

If you’re dealing with an independent location, you may need to appeal to a store manager. Although the parent company has some control over what an Ashley franchise can and can’t do, an appeal to Ashley corporate may be a long shot. Ask for the name of the local manager when Ashley Furniture customer service does not answer your question. It might be the best shortcut to fix your customer service problem.

I’ll have the resolution to this consumer problem after the poll. We have to do a poll.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

How to avoid a problem with Ashley Furniture

Welsh could have easily avoided this problem. Here are a few ideas:

Bring a savvy friend to help you shop for furniture

Buying furniture is a major purchase. If you think you might overlook an important detail like three missing pages of a contract, consider bringing a friend to help you. That applies to you if you’re 92 — or 22.

Read the contract

Welsh should have read the entire contract. Had he done so, he would have noticed the three missing pages. He might have also been suspicious of the repeated verbal assurances, which contradicted the contract.

Test the furniture before you buy

Sit in it, recline in it, take pictures of it — and see if it fits your home’s color scheme. If you can do a little due diligence before purchasing your furniture, you can avoid many problems returning your Ashley Furniture recliner.

What to do when Ashley Furniture doesn’t deliver as promised?

When a business promises you something — even verbally — it should make good on it. So how do you ensure a company like Ashley Furniture does the right thing?

Take names

If Ashley Furniture delivers a promise verbally, note who told you and when. That’s almost (but not quite) as good as having something in writing.

Remind Ashley Furniture of its mission statement

Ashley Furniture promises “To delight our guests, turn houses into homes and change lives for the better… together.” Refusing to exchange or return a product really doesn’t mesh with that credo, does it?

Appeal your case

Take your case to the store, the store manager, corporate, and if necessary, higher. I list the appeal options in this free guide to fixing your consumer problem.

How Ashley Furniture addressed this consumer problem

Hudnall had fought the good fight. She had appealed to store managers and executives. She had petitioned the Better Business Bureau (to no avail). She’d filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, and the attorneys general of two states.

The answer was still “no” — Welsh was stuck with a recliner he didn’t want.

I reviewed the correspondence between Hudnall and Ashley Furniture. She was polite but persistent, and at the end of the day, she just wanted to make her dad happy with his recliner. What a good daughter.

I contacted Ashley Furniture on Welsh’s behalf.

A few days later, she heard back from the company.

“An escalation specialist has contacted me,” she says. “It looks like Ashley has decided to honor its contract and exchange the chair. Thanks for all of your help.”

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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