Help! My Pottery Barn slipcovers have faded

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By Christopher Elliott

Ricki Le Vine’s slipcovers, purchased three years ago at the Pottery Barn, are fading. Why won’t the company stand behind its product?

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.

Unexplained damage to Pottery Barn’s slipcovers

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 removed the sage slipcovers from the hangers, I noticed light yellow hatch marks all over the seat cushions, back cushions, and the section where the zipper is (which is hidden from view). The skirt, back and arms do not show any marks. It appears that people sitting on the fabric have creased it, causing the color to rub off with their movement. 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.

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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. (Related: She returned her merchandise to Pottery Barn. But where’s her refund?)

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. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

Pottery Barn’s customer service woes

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 protected] email address. But if you want to contact someone at Williams Sonoma, you need to know the “secret” domain name, wsgc.com, so the CEO, Laura Alber, can be reached at [email protected]. (Related: Pottery Barn accepted the return, but where is my refund.)

I think you deserved more than an accusation that you washed the covers. 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 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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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