After three-and-a-half years, the material on the sectional Michael bought from Jerome’s Furniture started peeling away.
“My wife would just rest her head here as we’re watching television and it started peeling right in here,” Michael Brininstool said.
Michael showed NBC 7 Responds where his furniture problem started. “And it just comes right off and then you’ll find it everywhere, on the floor, the kitchen, the bathroom, and clothing,” he said.
The chair, couch and ottoman are covered in what’s called “bonded leather.” NBC 7 Responds along with other NBC Consumer Units around the country have been reporting on consumers’ issues with “bonded leather.”
Wanting to learn more about the material and why it’s widely used to make furniture, we sat down with Jerome’s Furniture CEO Brian Woods.
“They take the excess leather and shred it up and it’s combined with basically a bonding compound on the back of a film paper to give it that leather look and feel,” Woods said. “It really gives customers that leather look and that leather feel at an incredibly affordable price.”
Woods said “bonded leather” has been on the market less than ten years but makes up about 15-20% of his store’s leather furniture sales, including the sale to Michael Brininstool. Michael said he paid extra for an extended warranty but the warranty does not cover peeling leather.
“This isn’t $10 thousand furniture but we don’t expect it to fail in three-and-a-half years,” Michael said.
NBC 7 Responds showed pictures of Michael’s furniture to Jerome’s CEO.
“It’s disappointing and my heart breaks to see this kind of thing,” Woods said.
Woods told NBC 7 Responds “bonded leather” is durable but also delicate, having certain care requirements. “Once you have one small peel, just a tiny peel, then that’s it,” he said. “It’s very difficult to stop.”
To educate their customers about the delicate material, Woods said Jerome’s created a minute-and-a-half video on how to care for the product. Woods said buyers are directed to it when they purchase anything made of “bonded leather.”
To see the full video produced by Jerome's Furniture, click here.
When asked if customers are to blame for the peeling “bonded leather,” Woods replied, “I’m not saying they did something wrong, what I’m saying is that it’s delicate.”
This is more than just a Jerome’s issue. According to import statistics from the United States Census Bureau, a majority of leather furniture imports, including “bonded leather” come from China and similar chairs and couches are sold throughout the U.S.
Consumer Bob asked Woods whether or not Jerome’s is reconsidering selling products made with “bonded leather.” Woods replied, “I’m re-thinking how much of the assortment we have and making sure we’re diligent with the manufacturer quality with the assortment that we do carry.”
As for Michael’s situation, he was originally offered a 10% refund for his peeling furniture but since we pointed out Michael said he had never seen the care video or any other care instructions, Jerome’s agreed to refund all of his money.