La-Z-Boy: Don’t Clean Your Leather Chair With That Leather Chair Cleaning Kit We Gave You

When Stephen bought a pricey La-Z-Boy recliner, the salesperson handed him a leather care kit along with the warranty information. When the color of the chair arms began to fade, he tried using that kit, which removed the leather’s color entirely. When he contacted La-Z-Boy, he learned that the kit was more useful for wrecking leather than caring for it, and that he never should have used it in the first place. When he tried to make a warranty claim for the fading color on his chair’s arms, La-Z-Boy blamed the OP, telling him that he lost any chance at a warranty claim by putting his hands on the arms of his recliner. What?

I bought this recliner, from La-z-boy. It was leather, and it was
expensive. After completing the sale the sales agent gave us a sheet
with the warranty, and a kit to be used to keep the leather soft,
clean and in good condition.

After about a year the color of leather started to fad. No problem,
though I, I’ll just use the handy dandy kit the store provided to buff
it up. I read the directions carefully, and started to buff up the
arms of my chair. To my horror the color came totally off the arms,
onto the cloth. I called the store and said I was having some
problems, and the first thing they suggested is don’t use the kit we
gave you – it will ruin your chair. Well, I asked, why give it to me
then. They really could not come up with a reason, except it was
policy!

So I asked for a repair under warranty. They came, looked at the
chair, and said, yup the colors gone, but that’s ’cause you put your
hands there. It’s the arm of a chair. I do. That’s what it’s for.
Well, yes, but not for a warranty item. Then they said they would
think about it. They then came back and said, no there are no other
complaints about the color coming off their leather furniture. I
really couldn’t prove or disprove them. Then, visiting a friend I
brought up the subject. They had a La-z boy couch. They too had the
color coming off, onto their clothing, the same issue. I warned them
not to use the cleaning kit supplied! I then wrote the CEO. It took
better than ten weeks, but I finally got a reply, telling me politely
to get stuffed. I might still go to court, but for sure I’ll never buy
another La-z-boy prod

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to not hand out the kits in the first place? But when Stephen has taken his case to the top and failed, small claims court is an option.

Comments

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    Stephen should check out the latest models of La-Z-Boy chairs whose materials won’t fade.

    http://strikefighterconsultinginc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/url44.jpg

  2. scoutermac says:

    Sounds like La-Z-Boy simply does not want to cover the cost of the chair.

  3. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    Doesn’t the first instruction or two on those cleaner/conditioners tell you to test on an inconspicuous/hidden spot first, before you damage the whole thing? It sounds like the instructions weren’t really read that well.

    • RandomLetters says:

      I would expect that a La-Z-Boy to have already done exhaustive testing of any product they are supplying me to clean and care for my purchase from them. To have done otherwise is opening them up for liability. IANAL but it looks to me either they did the testing and Stephen’s chair is defective and they owe him repair/replacement or they didn’t do the testing and they supplied him with a product thats detrimental to his chair in which case they owe him a repair/replacement.

    • GrandizerGo says:

      I do remember seeing that on almost all cleaning products…
      HOWEVER, if it is given to you as a cleaning product to clean the product you brought, it is the responsibility of the COMPANY to make sure that the cleaner they gave you is kosher.
      Else, I can give you sandpaper and tell you to clean your windows with it if they get streaky.

  4. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    OK, after reading it, it sounds like the “color coming off” that the OP tried to get covered by the warranty is actually “normal wear/tear/use” marks, from where his arms/hands go. Normal usage is almost NEVER covered under any warranty, only defects in workmanship, defective parts, widespread problems, etc… They didn’t deny the claim b/c he cleaned, they denied the claim because it isn’t covered under the warranty.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      The color fading off of (higher price/quality) leather furniture after 1 year of normal use indicates defective parts in my eyes. Sure the company can technically tell people to piss off, it’s use related damage we won’t fix it. However, as a premier sort of brand they will ruin their reputation in no time flat. After reading this I sure wouldn’t waste my money on their furniture.

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        We don’t know certain facts though. The OP could have a body chemistry which reacts with the leather. It also seems like they went a year before cleaning it. We also don’t know what the local environment is like.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          Yeah I’m not sure why you have such a hard on for La-Z-Boy but I’m just not picking up what you’re laying down. A good company would look at this and not only change their policy of handing out bleach (apparently) “cleaning kits” but replace the goddamn chair. It *should* be worth it to them to keep this guy from telling everyone (too late) that their product is complete crap.

          I don’t know if you’ve ever run a business or sold a product, but pride and brand ‘trust’ goes a long way. They are willing to destroy theirs over a couple thousand dollars well, that’s on them, but you’re foolish for trying to finangle a way to somehow blame the guy who is now out a lot of money and has only yardsale grade furniture to show for it.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          Oh yeah, and I guess we should also assume that the OP’s friends with the same problem also have freaky body chemistry and/or sub tropical weather conditions that ruin leather furniture.

          • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

            Did you know that exposure to sun will fade leather! Yes, sun. Sit a leather chair in a sunny spot and it will fade allllll on it’s own.

          • Coles_Law says:

            I had a friend whose sweat would take the finish off brass. It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. However in that case, the company that made the trumpet refinished it (then advised him to wear gloves). La-Z-Boy definitely could have handled this better, even if we assume the wear wasn’t their fault and forget about the whole “cleaning kit” thing (there’s a couple stretchs).

            In fact, I don’t see how they could have handled this worse.

            • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

              But it wasn’t La-Z-Boy, He states he contacted the original store. He also states he contacted the CEO, and it took 10 weeks to get a reply, which I find hard to believe, because what CEO keeps mail in their inbox for over 2 months?

              • ahecht says:

                La-Z-Boy has their own stores. Since the OP said he “bought this recliner, from La-z-boy” not that he “bough a La-z-boy” recliner, I assume he got it from a La-z-boy store.

    • mergatroy6 says:

      I’ve had the same leather couches, from Natuzzi, for 7 years and the color hasn’t faded one bit. If the color is actually coming off it sounds to me like La-Z-Boy is using sub-par materials.

      Even the cheapo “leather” couches in my basement have kept their color.

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        I have no clue who Natuzzi is, but I hear the name almost every day when I hear Raymore and Flannigan commercials on TV.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      The leather dashboard and seats in my car are 10 years old and they’re still in perfect
      condition with no color fade. Sounds like either cheap materials or defective materials.

      • WendyB says:

        Car leather and furniture leather are completely different. Furniture leather falls into several categories. You’ve got your full grain leather which is taken from the best hides. The grain is visible and it is usually a full aniline dye. This leather will fade in the sun and absorb body oils very quickly thus gaining a “patina”. Full grain, full aniline leather is usually the priciest of furniture leather. Then comes full grain semi-aniline leather which involves dying and a top coat type process. These leathers take a little more wear and tear as well as resist fading and oil absorbtion a little better. Then you have your corrected leathers made from inferior hides. Imperfections have been buffed out and more protective finishes have been used. These leathers aren’t as soft, but stand up to more abuse than the others. Car leather, on the other hand, has to withstand extremes of temperature and moisture. It technically came from a cow and is actual leather, but so much has been chemically done to it that it resembles vinyl in performance.

        • WendyB says:

          Sorry to have gotten off the main point. Leather and it’s weaknesses are hugely misunderstood in the furniture universe because everyone (salespeople included) thinks it should be like their car leather. La-Z-Boy needs to offer the OP a new chair and their employees a training session. But they won’t.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      I think you should go back and read it again.

      I read the directions carefully, and started to buff up the arms of my chair. To my horror the color came totally off the arms, onto the cloth.”

      The OP clearly states they followed the directions and the cleaner was what caused the color to come off, which would mean it was not normal wear. Sure, they could be either mistaken or lying, but do you have any basis whatsoever for claiming that they are?

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        Since you already had to have read it to post the part you did…

        “After about a year the color of leather started to fad. No problem,
        though I, I’ll just use the handy dandy kit the store provided to buff
        it up”

        • Blueskylaw says:

          If you read it even MORE carefully, Stephen said the color started to “FAD”, which is different from fade. For all we know, fad means dirty which is why he wanted to buff it up.

          • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

            Except that’s not what he said: he distinctly said “To Blave,” which we all know means “to bluff.” So you’re probably playing cards, and he cheated!

          • dolemite says:

            No, a fad is a temporary phenomenon where something becomes popular for a short period. Like hot pink and lime green in the 90s. So the fad for his color died out and he wants something more relevant to 2012!

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          I thought it was obvious, but fading != dye coming completely off on the cloth. And you still didn’t address your implication that the directions said something about spot testing and the OP ignored them.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      it’s probably a stain and not a dyed finish. from this part of the story:
      “Then, visiting a friend I
      brought up the subject. They had a La-z boy couch. They too had the
      color coming off, onto their clothing, the same issue. ”
      it sounds like a stain. which is just poor workmanship. stain is for handbags and cheap shoes. hard wearing daily use stuff should be a dyed finish with a protective coat over it.
      dye goes deeper into the surface and won’t show a color change [texture maybe] for a lot more wear and tear.

  5. akronharry says:

    When you buy a high quality product (?) from La-Z-Boy, any rational person person would not expect to have the color come off in a year’s time. SImple as that. Having had various leather furniture for over 40 years, I have never had one piece ever have the color wipe off. It sounds like they did a poor job treating the leather and the color dye never went deep into it.. BTW, where is the furniture made these days?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      They had to outsource to China in order to pay Brooke Shields. Here is a blurb from their site:

      A lot has changed in the furniture industry since 1927. Recent developments, such as the closing of major textile plants in the U.S., have forced us to go overseas for products like fabrics and leathers that are no longer available here in mass quantities. The covers on our products may be made elsewhere, but for nearly all of our products, employees in our American factories build the frames and apply the cover. While many of our components, including our famous recliner mechanisms, are fabricated by our dedicated employees in this country, we also consider international suppliers and laborers for some parts, such as handles and swivel bases, in order to build long-lasting furniture at an accessible price.

  6. deadandy says:

    Fun with facts!

    Here is La-Z-Boy’s official brochure about cleaning leather: http://www.la-z-boy.com/files/productcare/LeatherBrochure.pdf

    You’ll note that it recommends using a solution of 1/2 mild soap and 1/2 distilled water to clean leather, or else get a professional (page 2, bottom right). So I’m guessing that the salesperson wherever Stephen gave him some crazy aftermarket cleaning kit that La-Z-Boy has nothing to do with.

    Normal wear and tear + disregarding La-Z-Boy’s own cleaning instructions = no warranty.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      LOL, yeah I’m going to clean my $1000 leather chair with soap and fucking water. I don’t give a rat’s ass that it’s the manufacturer website telling me that, it’s wrong.

      • GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

        Yeah, just because leather is almost exactly like skin, there is no reason to go gentle on it. APPLY ALL THE CHEMICALS! WHAT COULD POSSIBLI GO WRONG?!

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Mild soap and distilled water does an *excellent* job cleaning leather.

        Never tried fucking water, though.

      • cactus jack says:

        Mild detergent soap (hand/face soap) and distilled water plus a rag are the general tools for most leather furniture and jacket care.

    • BennieHannah says:

      About seven years ago I bought a leather sofa from the Salvation Army for $50. It was pale gray, in perfect condition, comfortable and a lovely contemporary style (not that Puffy Man Cave stuff). All of the leather covers zip off the arms and the backs and seat. A couple of years ago one of my dogs threw up on it, himself and the other dog sitting with him. Yeah, it was an epic mess, and no matter how products I used to I cleaned the leather I could still smell it. Having nothing to lose, I zipped off all the leather, threw it in the washing machine and then let it air dry. I zipped the leather back onto the cushions and it was as good as new. Having three dogs, I usually wipe it down a few times a week with a Lysol wet wipe. I hope this Magic Sofa never wears out because I could never afford to replace it with one of comparable quality — if one even exists these days.

  7. sprybuzzard says:

    I can’t believe people are saying fading leather is normal after 1 year. Should I expect fading or to replace my leather upholstery after 1 year???

  8. Lyn Torden says:

    I believe most judges would disagree with the La-Z-Boy CEO.

    La-Z-Boy just got on my “bad company” list. I’ve never bought one of their chairs before, but that was merely by chance before. In the future there will be no chance.

  9. geeglegook says:

    I clean my chairs with redbox dvd’s :)

  10. Zeola says:

    I am a leathercraft professional, and I have heard this tale before. I’ve been self-employed a long time, but I used to work part time as well for Tandy Leather, a retailer of leather and leathercraft supplies and dyes. I had a customer come in one day with this exact complaint, and he said that Lazy Boy had ignored him.

    As a person who works with leather daily, I can tell you that it should not normally lose its’ color after a year. It *is* possible that some folks’ body chemistry reacts with the finish and dye of the leather…it is also possible that Lazy Boy has simply started using cheaper leather. I would point out that on a recliner, people are putting their hands in the same location, over and over, exposing the leather to sweat, and god knows what else…so that would definitely be the why of the color change.

    However, Lazy Boy well knows that their customers put their hands there, so either they are using a cheaper leather or they know that a percentage of folks have a body chemistry which causes an issue with the finish/dye. Either way I feel that they are responsible.

    I will also say that a person like me can probably, possibly, re-dye and refinish the chair arms…it would require someone very experienced with dyes and finishes, and probably would not be perfect, but likely be an improvement over how it looks now. Please refer the OP to either ask around their local Tandy leather, or go to Leatherworker.net to find a skilled person in their area. IFOLG – the International Federation of Leather Guilds might also be a good place to look for help. They can even email me if they like, and I can try to help them find someone; we have a leathercraft group on FB where I could inquire for them.

    • daemonaquila says:

      THIS. I am not a pro, but have done a lot of leatherworking. Good leather should not fade like that after only one year. I’ve had to redye fancy jackets and such that have been heavily exposed to sun and sweat for years (and making things match exactly is no joke) – but that’s after years of hard use, not a piece of indoor furniture that’s supposed to be able to stand up to someone (gasp!) sitting in it.

      In the end, it IS La-Z-Boy’s responsibility to make sure its leather is suitable for normal use in a piece of furniture. Fading out after 1 year doesn’t cut the mustard. I’d suggest lawyering up and bringing suit for breach of warranty for a particular purpose.

      • KyBash says:

        Agree! When there’s a problem, a professional is always the answer.

        The only decent piece of leather I own is a jacket that’s over 20 years old. Because it was expensive (not in and of itself, although it wasn’t cheap) and carries sentimental value, when it needs cleaning, I send it to someone who knows leather rather than relying on whoever a dry cleaner might send it to. It costs more to do that, but it’s been well worth it.

  11. Me says:

    If you live in a large city there are businesses that will perform leather dyeing and repairs. Ask around where you work to see where people take their shoes and leather handbags for repair. I have had leather shoes dyed to match when parts were scuffed and faded. Also, I have a friend who buys those really expensive designer bags and she gets them repaired when they start to look shabby.

    Just my opinion; I buy furniture to “stage” corporate housing and ave found that it doesn’t matter where you buy it, what “name” is on it or how fancy it is – ikea is always the most bang for your buck. They have everything from the cheapest cardboard shelf to a sturdy sleeper sectional.

    The materials used to make ikea furniture never “bleed” onto clothing and they hold up pretty well for what you pay. It stinks that La-Z-Boy will not stand by their brand.

    You could always cut your losses and sell it off on cl – then buy from ikea.

  12. Pete the Geek says:

    No one buys leather furniture with the expectation that it will last for a year or two. I agree that small claims court is a good option. I suspect this may be another case of company leadership outsourcing the company’s reputation.

  13. Jawaka says:

    The first sentence of this story says that a sales rep gave the OP a leather care kit and the warranty information but nothing further was mentioned about the warranty information. What did it say was and wasn’t covered?

  14. Bodger says:

    I obviously don’t know who is right or wrong here but I do know that the timing is perfect since I was preparing to get two new leather chairs for the newly-finished library. Having this article saves me the trouble of looking at the wares from one maker. I’m turning 65 and I expect that the chairs must last for, literally, the rest of my life so why take chances?

  15. Tiki says:

    I also bought an expensive leather La-Z-Boy recliner with the extra warranty and they gave me the leather kit. In less than a year, the color came off the arms. My husband sweats, but he has had cheaper leather chairs that didn’t have the color come off. I bought the leather warranty for $80 and it was a rip off since they won’t stand behind their product.

  16. Dissatisfied says:

    I also bought 4 LazyBoy leather recliners. I upgraded the leather and also bought the lifetime leather warranty. After a couple years, the leather faded tremendously. It looks like it faxed from body oils. I contacted LazyBoy to come out and look at them and they told me the warranty doesn’t cover fading… If there was a puncture in the leather then it would be covered but not fading. Why did I bother with the lifetime warranty. It sounds like there is definitely a problem with their leather fading.