Even Ripley would have had a hard time believing that a company could take five years to repair a leather lounge suite.
The saga could be written as a chapter in the manual, How Not To Deal With A Customer 101.
When Vivienne Milner and her partner moved from Robertson to Betty’s Bay they found that their old lounge suite was too big for the house so they paid R17 000 cash for two La-Z-Boy chairs and a two-seater couch which also reclines from Decofurn in Somerset West, on September 17 2015.
“Soon after we bought it, the armrest of the recliner broke and Decofurn replaced it. Then a tear developed on the footrest and within two years all the stitching on the front of the recliner was tearing. The suite had a one-year guarantee and the salesperson, Scott, told us it was leather which it definitely is not. I took a picture of the torn stitching and when next we were at Decofurn I showed it to the salesperson and he told us to email the manager, Owen Witikar, which we did. However, he wrote that we would have to bring the chair to them or pay R500 and Decofurn would fetch it. We told him we are an elderly couple and drive a car, not a bakkie. He did say when they were in the area they would collect it,” Ms Milner said.
Of course, nothing happened . Then in 2018 Ms Milner emailed the image to Mr Witikar and asked if there were deliveries to Hermanus or nearby. Again there was no response.
“In May 2019 we went to Decofurn when I was able to speak to Mr Witikar. I showed him the tears and he reminded me that they did give a one-year guarantee. But I expect a lounge suite to last longer than one year. Slowly but surely the tears from the stitching are getting longer and longer. I am disappointed in the service from Decofurn. The manager also gave me a BS story about how the chair would have to be sent to an upholsterer in Muizenberg. I have measured two of the 13 tears and they are two centimetres long and getting longer,” Ms Milner said.
I sent a copy of Ms Milner’s letter to Decofurn’s Leon Jordaan, who, when I previously wrote about his poor customer service, said I was tarnishing his company’s image and cancelled an advertising campaign he was planning with Cape Community Newspapers.
Mr Jordaan said he had been out of the country and hadn’t seen Ms Milner’s complaint so I sent it again, but he didn’t acknowledge it. I sent it again and there was no response. Although Neh (surname unknown) did reply with a ticket number that the issue would be investigated but “it may take 48 hours to get a response because of the high volume of calls”.
Trying to get a reply from Decofurn was like trying to pull hen’s teeth.
However, on January 23 2020, Ms Milner said, “At long last after two WhatsApps I have had a response from Neh. In the first one on Monday January 13 she said she would follow up. When I hadn’t heard anything I sent another WhatsApp, asking when they would collect my chairs for repair. Neh then asked me to send her the store invoices,” Ms Milner said.
There was no reaction so on March 19 this year, Ms Milner wrote to Mr Jordaan and Neh, repeating what she told me with the addition of new information.
“I am astounded at the poor level of service we have received from Decofurn … To make matters worse, the second chair also developed a crack of 5cm long as a result of material failure. We didn’t want to complain to Scott who sold us the suite as we realised we wouldn’t get a fair deal. Scott referred us to Mr Witikar but it didn’t go any further. Your agent, Neh, attempted to help me. She called me at the end of 2019 to ask if I was satisfied with the service we had received from Decofurn and I told her most definitely not. It was a complaint going back to 2016.
“After several WhatsApps she said they would collect the chairs in January because December was too busy. After I WhatsApped her, the chairs were collected on January 30 and we paid R500 for transport. They were returned on February 28 in the same condition after being at Decofurn for a month.
“We received another call from Decofurn about the return of the chairs where they mentioned a R500 transport charge, much to my surprise. Since then we have heard nothing and I would like to know what’s going on,” Ms Milner futilely asked Mr Jordaan.
“The delay is because of your disinterested staff who don`t seem to understand that customers have rights and responsibilities just as the store has a responsibility to resolve the customer’s dispute speedily, according to the Consumer Protection Act,” Ms Milner concluded.
Finally, there was some good news.
“Hooray! Our chairs were returned on June 30. They are done nicely with new material,” Ms Milner said. “It has been a long wait but worth it. It pays to be like a dog with a bone. Thank you for your input these past few years. Without it I don’t think anything would have been done.”
Decofurn has ignored all requests for comment although they gave ticket numbers for the enquiries: 80267, 80712 and 81709 on July 7, July 9 and July 16 2020 respectively.