Convertibles Furniture - a horror story
I was looking for some new furniture and a friend
recommended Jennifer Convertibles.
Who am I?
Well, if you've been looking at real estate stuff
on the web, you've probably read my articles - though my name doesn't appear on
them. The home buying and selling tips appear on this site and
approximately 50,000 others, maybe more. About 700 Realtors send out
monthly email newsletters to all of their clients. I write those newsletters,
but my name doesn't appear on them, either.
Anyway, what I wanted to do was replace an old
beat-up faded puke-green couch and get a new matching chair to go with it.
I'm a divorced balding fellow and a lot of people know me and these folks were
pretty insistent that I replace my couch. New furniture wasn't a high priority
for me, but...they were right. It was time to replace the old junk.
So I ended up at Jennifer Convertibles in Laguna
Hills on December 11th, 2004. Today is January 7th.
I still don't have my new furniture.
It took me ten minutes to choose the couch and
chair (I don't like shopping unless it is for electronic gadgetry - or a new
barbecue). Siggy was my salesperson and she was very pleasant, and
recommended a "manly" color of olive, which wasn't quite an olive color but a
sort of deep green. It fit. I liked it. We retired to the
office area to write up the order.
The cost of the couch was fairly inexpensive, just
$599.99. The chair, another $400. Perfect. Of
course, you have to get the "Upholstery Shield Fabric Leather Protection Plan"
or else sign this scary looking waiver that says, "No. I decline and
assume all responsibility for stains to the fabric / leather after delivery."
Since I occasionally eat in the living room, drink
coffee and iced tea -- I thought it wise to get the Upholstery Shield.
That was $100 for the couch and $79.99 for the chair. It seemed a little
expensive, but "what the heck?" I bought it. Plus tax. Plus
The couch could be delivered in two weeks.
Six weeks for the chair. I could wait and have them both delivered
together, or get them delivered separately. I chose separately.
Another $79.99 for each. So $1000 worth of furniture ended up costing
$1500. Okay, I could deal with that.
They wouldn't take my check. Not a problem,
but I no longer like to pay for things on credit, so I whipped out my corporate
debit card with the prestigious MasterCard logo on it (this is humor)...and made
a deposit. $417.13. Handled. The remainder could be paid COD,
or I could go into the office at any time and pay the balance.
The very next day I went in with cash to pay the
There was only an order for the couch. No
chair. That was weird. Dan, the office manager, wrote up a separate
order for the chair (I wonder if Siggy got credit for the order?). After
awhile I walked out with two separate invoices, one for the couch and one for
the chair. Total order - $1431.45. Somewhere, I had saved almost
$70, so that was cool with me.
While I was there, I saw this cool entertainment
center that looked like a steamer trunk standing on its end. Guy-type
furniture. Something I could go for and place my television, my X-Box, my
PlayStation 2, and my CD player. Right now they sit in and on an old Army
footlocker, painted black, standing on its end. I like it, but no one else does.
I asked Dan about the entertainment center and he looked it up in the book.
Twelve weeks for delivery.
I passed, thinking I could come back later.
Jennifer Convertibles scheduled the delivery of
the couch for December 24th. Christmas Eve.
That seemed like a strange day to deliver
furniture but I didn't have plans until the evening, so that was okay for me.
They would deliver either in the morning or the afternoon, and I should expect a
phone call on the 23rd to inform me of the correct time.
Sure enough, on December 23rd I received a phone
call. I was told the couch would be delivered in the afternoon between
noon and 5PM. I was told I had to be on the premises between those hours.
So Christmas Eve rolls around. Even though I
hate shopping, that "last minute Christmas" bug starts to bite. The urge
to spend money at the last minute (maybe a new CD Player?). But...
...When you're waiting for a delivery, it's like
having a leash on a dog. You can't leave. You can't go anywhere.
You have to "stay."
I stayed. I stuck around. I sat on the
patio reading a book, drinking iced tea, smoking a cigar (Southern California weather is
pretty wonderful most of the time). I wandered inside and watched the
news. I went back to the balcony, leaned over the patio rail and chatted with
my neighbor, Ann, who occasionally plies me with great Italian food. I
tell her about the delivery, almost like it is a Christmas present since it is
arriving on Christmas Eve.
I'm giddy with anticipation.
I listen for the delivery truck.
Since I live in a condo community, delivery men
sometimes have a problem finding the right unit. I'm not worried.
They have my home phone and my cell phone and my business phone, and can call if
they get lost. Still, occasionally I hear a truck and walk the fifteen
feet between the foot of my stairs and the street area to see if it is my
No delivery truck.
I was getting bored. I wanted to see my new
couch. I wanted to go to Starbuck's and get a Cafe Mocha. I wanted
to see the crowds out doing last-minute shopping so I could say, "Did you see
all those people shopping at the last minute?"
But I stay.
No delivery guy.
Five o'clock rolls around. No delivery
truck. No delivery guy. No one walks past me on the patio. No
one climbs up my stairs. No one rings the bell. No one knocks on the
door. Six o'clock rolls around. Same thing. Around seven
o'clock, I finally leave. It is a holiday, after all.
No Jennifer Convertibles couch for Christmas.
Like a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.
I want to complain. Christmas isn't a good
day for that, and besides...you're busy.
The first business day after Christmas I do call.
No answer at the store. I guess they're closed. I look up the number
for corporate headquarters and call that. You get an endless loop of
"press one" for this, "press four" for that, and never get a live person.
Even when you press "zero" you don't get a live person. I assume they are
The next day I call the local store and Siggy
answers. I want to know what happened. I complain about having to
sit around my house on Christmas Eve -- for nothing. All I'm told is
someone else didn't receive their delivery, either. I'm asked to verify I
was at home during the scheduled time period. I answer that I was. I
ask if she can call the delivery service and find out why they didn't deliver.
She can't. Siggy says she can "email" them.
What about the phone? "They're closed."
Evidently they're closed till sometime in January. She can reschedule the
delivery for the 14th of January.
Three weeks after the original scheduled delivery
That's when I start getting unhappy.
That Wednesday I go into the Jennifer's
Convertibles store. Dan, the manager is in. As I said, I'm not
happy. I say I want to cancel the entire order. He understands, he
says, but offers to refund the delivery fee and deliver the couch on the 9th,
instead of the 14th. I think I should get it the next day, but...evidently
the warehouse is still closed. They can't even talk to the delivery folks.
Once again, "email" comes up. Anyway, it "isn't possible" to deliver
sooner than the 9th. That's almost two and a half weeks after the
While I'm thinking about it, I see a big scary
sign in the office that says something similar to, "All cancellations pay a 30%
So I give in, the 9th will have to do. Dan
writes a "sticky note" and attaches it to my invoice. It says, "Allowance
for free delivery refund" and gives the date for the new delivery. I
wonder why he doesn't actually write it on the order form, but I decide to
I just realized that the 9th is a Sunday.
I practice being patient.
On the seventh, Siggy calls from Jennifer's
Convertibles. They'll deliver on the 9th, but I have to pay an additional
First, I patiently explain, I already paid for
delivery and that delivery never came. Second, Dan promised to refund that
delivery fee AND deliver the sofa at no additional cost. It
says so right there on the sticky-note (like that is going to mean something
in a small claims court - humor). I'm supposed to be getting money
back, and I attempt to explain all this to Siggy. She says she is only
repeating what Dan told her to say. She says that "Lou" at the warehouse
says they knocked on my door and no one was home.
I don't like to accuse people of lying. I
prefer to say they are mistaken, because I'm trying to be a polite person as I
mature. But someone at the delivery warehouse is telling a story.
I inform Siggy that Lou is mistaken.
Siggy says, "It's his word against yours."
I'm becoming less happy by the minute.
Who called the next day they were open? Who
came in the store to find out why they didn't deliver? It wasn't the
delivery guy. Today is two weeks after they were supposed to deliver, and
this is the first they've been able to come up with some kind of response from
the delivery guy?
Does a guy who pays cash not stick around for
Hmmm...I'm beginning to get a clear picture
I don't believe Lou is telling the truth, or
someone isn't telling him the truth. I suggest she give me Lou's phone
number, but they're "not allowed" to do that. Siggy continues to insist I
have to pay $79.99 cash or money order COD to get my couch delivered. I
refuse to pay it. They owe me $79.99. She says I have to pay
because the delivery guys were here and I wasn't.
My patience expires.
The only foul language
I use, though, is "Bullshit." I guess maturity hasn't quite taken
Siggy suggests I call Dan, the Jennifer
Convertibles manager, when he comes in the office tomorrow at 10AM. I
suggest that he call me. In the end, she lays down the law about me
having to pay the $79.99 and says, "Okay?"
Siggy terminates the call.
So I went to the corporate web site because it was
Friday evening after business hours back in New York. I clicked on
"Customer Care." That sounds nice. No phone number. No fax
number. No email address. No business address. Just an online form.
Using their form, I explained the situation and asked them to fix it.
Their automated response says, "We will
try our best to address them in a timely fashion; however, due to the large
amount of correspondence we receive, we ask that you be patient while awaiting a
Hmmm...(my mind working now)....I wonder
why their Customer Care form has such a "large amount" of correspondence?
I still like that entertainment center, but...this
experience has not been fun so far. Maybe I'll try that bamboo place.
Finally, I "Googled" Jennifer Convertibles and
found all these links...
I think I should have Googled them before I
went to the store.
(to be continued)...
Dan from Jennifer Convertibles called this
morning. Saturday. He believes the driver, who evidently says that
no one answered the door. He says the driver hung around for five or ten
minutes. He says that people often leave for a half hour, especially
because it was Christmas Eve. He says the other lady who didn't get
delivered must have left home for a half hour or more, too. He says
the driver put a note on the door (that is new information).
Of course, none of the above can possibly be true.
Dan responds with the tried and true customer
service response previously employed by Siggy.
"It's your word against theirs."
He says I have to pay the $80 and fight it out
with the corporate offices. He suggested I cancel and pay the 30%
Now that is customer care.
Like I said, someone is telling a false story --
and it isn't me. Once again, I'm not happy, but I'm going to pay the $80,
then call the Jennifer Furniture corporate office and see what happens. I
told Dan I would pay the $80 to the delivery guy when he arrives and delivers my
couch. I want to ask him personally about being here.
Maybe I should go to the store to pay the $80,
though. That might be more fun.
Luckily, I can get this story out to you.
The Jennifer Furniture web site is ranked
145,376th on the web by Alexa. Mine is ranked 21,636th. I wonder
where this page will rank on Google in a couple of weeks?
Delivery Day Comes -- Again
I went in the Jennifer Convertibles Laguna Hills
store. Dan was busy with a client and I waited impatiently. I
attempted to explain to them that I had a little bit of clout on the web and
could probably get this story found by search engines -- and it would probably
appear fairly high in search results.
Anyone can say that, though. Dan and Siggy
didn't seem to be bothered.
presented Siggy and Dan with a copy of the story above and paid the $80.
Four twenties. Technically, they owed me a penny, but knowing they don't
keep cash around, I told them I didn't need the penny. I wasn't being rude
of facetious. I was being magnanimous (is that the right word?).
Siggy attempted to
make a joke of the whole thing, and I said, calmly, "it isn't funny." She
said she was just trying to keep it light-hearted, and I respect that. Dan
I made sure to get a receipt.
Saturday afternoon I received a phone call saying
the sofa would be delivered between two and six in the afternoon on Sunday.
At precisely 1:59 PM I got my cup of coffee ready and sat on the patio watching
the rain come down while smoking a cigar.
I was listening to the Wild Card playoff game on
my wireless headphones.
I heard a truck pass by, right around half-time of
the Green Bay vs. Minnesota game. I didn't want to leave the patio "just
in case." No one came to the door, though, so after awhile I walked down
the stairs, strolled the fifteen feet to the street, and took a peek.
Parked a ways down the street was a plain white delivery van with the side
Could it be my delivery guys?
But if I went down the street while someone came
to my door from the other direction...? Well, I didn't want that to
happen. So I returned to the patio. After a couple of minutes, I
could no longer stand the suspense. Plus, if it was my delivery, I
didn't want them to leave and have to go through this all over again.
So I got my umbrella and walked down to the truck.
It said "Garcia Trucking" on the side. No driver. No passenger.
I looked inside the open truck door and there was a leather couch inside.
Not mine, but it was a couch. So I started looking around the complex for
someone wandering in search of my unit.
After awhile, I saw a fellow walking past the
swimming pool carrying a clipboard. So I went to stand at the foot of my
stairs, looking conspicuous. I mean, who just stands in the rain, holding
an umbrella, not moving, not talking to anyone or doing anything?
I figured he would notice me.
As he approached, he asked, "259?" That's my
"Yes," I replied.
His name was Ezra. A very pleasant fellow.
He likes Green Bay.
Here's the thing. If they had
actually attempted to deliver before, had knocked on my door and left a note on
it and had hung around for five or ten minutes, wouldn't they already know
where my unit was?
Why would they have to look for it?
That's what I was thinking, proud of myself for
being so clever.
Ezra and his helper delivered the couch. The
second half of the Green Bay vs. Minnesota Wild Card game was starting.
Ezra said, "Green Bay is my team." It didn't look all that good for Green
Bay, but I kept my mouth shut.
Before they left, I asked Ezra, "Did you attempt
to deliver it before?"
"No," he replied.
We'll see if the corporate office responds to my
"Customer Care" email.
Right now, I'm kind of worn out by it all. I
wish I'd never heard of Jennifer Convertibles and never purchased anything from
them. It has been such an unpleasant experience that I don't even want the
thing, much less sit on it.
....(to be continued when/if the corporate office
gets back to me)...
The Corporate Office Follows Up - January
This morning Amanda from the Jennifer Convertibles
corporate offices called. She was very professional and nice, offered me a
full refund for both delivery fees, asked how I paid, and said I would receive a
check in about two weeks.
Now I'm waiting for the chair....
The Chair Follow-up - January 24, 2005
"Six weeks for delivery on the chair," is what I
was told by Jennifer Convertibles when I ordered it. That was December
11th. So it has been six weeks and two days.
I've heard nothing.
I took a look at my invoice. The invoice
actually says "six to eight weeks" with no specific delivery date. It
isn't what I was told verbally, but it makes more sense to give a range rather
than a specific promise that may or may not be kept.
"I should follow up, though," I thought.
Dan answered the phone. As mentioned, he is
the manager of the local Jennifer Convertibles store. He was busy writing
up an order for a client and said he would call back in ten minutes.
A couple of hours later, Dan did eventually call
back, saying he tried to return my call earlier but the line was busy.
Now, I have two phone lines and call waiting on both lines, and when one line is
busy with two calls it rolls over onto the other line, so I would have to be
handling four calls at the same time for someone to get a busy signal.
Plus, Dan has my cell-phone number, too.
I didn't bother to explain that to Dan. That
would be petty. He did call back, after all.
Still, I was never on the line with four calls at
the same time. I'm not that popular.
...and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
It could have been a fluke and maybe my phone line was busy.
So...when will the chair be delivered?
Dan didn't know. He would email the
corporate office and check on the status. I could call him back before 4PM
the next day. I suggested a novel concept. He could actually call
Customer Care, I was thinking.
I don't think Dan understands that concept.
The next day I called Jennifer Convertibles at
3:56 PM. That was mostly luck because I happened to look at the clock and
was wondering about my chair at the same time.
Dan didn't know anything new. The corporate
office had not answered his email. I suggested a remarkable new concept -
one I had suggested before.
"We're not allowed to phone the corporate office,"
Wow. They weren't allowed to call the
So I asked what happens if the corporate office
doesn't answer his email. He emails them again. I asked when I could
expect a call back to let me know what is going on. He suggested I could
call back tomorrow and talk to Siggy.
I don't want to torment Siggy. She just
works there, even though she is the one who first said, "it is your word against
theirs" when discussing the delivery of the couch. It is weird that Dan
used the exact same phrase, though.
Now that I'm thinking about it, perhaps this is a
standard response to customer complaints?
Finally, Dan committed to calling me the "day
One day has passed, so I can expect a call
If you haven't noticed, I've become a bit
skeptical about Dan. Perhaps I am being unfair.
To be continued....
As a side note, it has been only ten days since
the Jennifer Furniture corporate office called to say they would refund the
delivery fees on the couch. I haven't received the check yet, but there
are still four days to go.
Received the Check - January 25
I did receive the check refunding the two delivery
fees on my couch, so the corporate office came through. No call from Dan.
Follow-up and a New Problem - February 1
Today I dropped the remote control for the
television behind the couch. It was between the wall and the couch.
No way to reach it. Since I now have end tables surrounding the couch, I
didn't want to pull the couch out from the wall and get it, so I got a broom
handle and bent over to look beneath the couch.
I had never looked beneath the couch before.
I've only had it three weeks and just moved it
against the wall a week ago. Previously, it was sitting out in the middle
of the room because I really didn't want to sit on it. It's a comfortable
couch, but I still have "negative vibes" from it.
Anyway, you know that screen-type thing that is at
the bottom of the couch? I don't know what it is called. The front
isn't connected to anything. It's just hanging down.
I called the local Jennifer Convertibles store and
spoke with Siggy, attempting to explain it to her. She called it a
"webbing" and gave me a number to call to get it fixed. 1-800-371-611.
While I was on the phone, I asked about my chair.
No word. She looked it up on the computer. Nothing. Siggy
suggested I call Dan after 10AM tomorrow morning. I explained that Dan had
promised to call me by January 25th and I had not received his call. "I
know," she replied, in a way that was probably humoring me because I've
undoubtedly become known as a problem customer.
I don't think I'm being a jerk or anything.
I was very polite. I didn't call on the 26th, shouting and screaming about
not receiving a phone call.
So I called the 1-800 number to see about my
Jennifer Furniture answered on the first ring.
Customer Care. Liz. In my fairly inept way, I attempted to explain
the problem about the webbing-screen-type-thing to Liz. She referred to
the webbing as a "dust cover" and said a technician would call me in five to
seven business days to schedule an appointment to come repair it.
So now I have two things to wait for. The
chair and a repair to the couch.
(to be continued)
Friday, February 11
The guy was supposed to come between 12 and 5 to
repair the couch. He showed up at 4:30, he and I tipped the couch over, he
slapped a few staples in and was gone. He was a nice enough guy and it
took a couple of minutes.
Sunday, February 13
The chair was delivered today. It wasn't
Ezra, who delivered the sofa, but a different delivery guy.
So now I'm done, with one exception. I
forgot to deposit the check for my delivery fee refund. I'll have to take
care of that.
Well, Not Quite... (Tuesday, February 15)
On Tuesday, two days after the chair was
delivered, I was sitting in the chair and I noticed a tear in the fabric.
I called Dan. Dan gave me the toll-free number for Customer Care.
Liz answered. She asked for my order number.
I tell you, you better never ever lose your order
I explained that there was a short one and a half
inch rip in the fabric on the right arm of the chair. Which is actually
the left arm, because the furniture store wants to know what arm it is if
you are facing the chair - not sitting in it.
So they are sending that "component" and when I
receive it they will call a technician who will come out and "fix" it.
I didn't really understand that, so I asked what
it meant. Liz didn't really understand it completely, either.
Together we figured that they are sending out the whole right (I mean left!)
side of the chair and someone will put it together here at my home.
Something else to wait for.
February 16 - And there's more! (The gift that
keeps on giving!)
I was sitting in the chair and knocked the remote
control off the left arm onto the floor. That's the left arm as I am
sitting in the chair.
Darn, cause you really need that remote control to
raise and lower volume, to fast-forward through the commercial on the Digital
Video Recorder (so cool!), and so on.
So I leaned my left elbow and forearm on the left
arm of the chair and reached over to pick up the remote. I heard a
"crunch" noise and my left arm sunk deeper into the arm of the chair. Some
sort of wood thing in the interior of the chair collapsed. Now it looks
kind of sunken.
Tomorrow I guess I have to call Dan again, get the
customer care phone number again, talk to Liz again, and schedule another
Every once in a while I take pity on the store,
thinking I've been too hard on them. Then, something new happens.
A fellow named Chaz came to repair the left arm of
the chair, which is actually the "right" arm of the chair the way Jennifer
Furniture defines it. It is the left arm as I sit in it, but the right arm
if you are looking at the chair -- which is probably how furniture folks think
Which is not from the point of view of the
consumer, and perhaps that is a tell-tale sign.
Chaz seemed like a very considerate guy and kept
calling throughout the day to let me know when he would be arriving.
He took the chair apart and inside was a bunch of
plywood and stuffing. It looked pretty insubstantial. He rebuilt the
arm and put more stuffing in it. While he was doing that, I was on the web
looking up whether the Ortega Highway was closed or not, because we were having
lots of "weather" in California around that time.
A heavy storm in California is when it drizzles
for several hours in a row, punctuated by occasional rain. People in the
east or midwest would laugh at this being called a "storm," but since we don't
receive much rainfall hear, there are mudslides and such -- and those are
The highway was open.
He finished and was heading out the door, and I
decided to "test" the chair to make sure the arm was "right."
"Chaz!" I hollered before he got off the balcony.
You see, there was only support under part of the
arm. The lower part still sagged in. It wasn't completely fixed.
It was late, Chaz was tired and had a long drive
to get home. I was sympathetic, because I've made that drive myself.
We decided on a compromise.
Since the right arm (left arm) still had to be
repaired because of the torn fabric, he would be coming back to do that repair.
So we agreed that he could finish the repair on the partially fixed arm at that
"Component" by Mail
When I called about the right arm, Jennifer said
they would send the "component" by mail. At the time, I envisioned
receiving the entire right side of the chair by mail.
I actually asked what they meant by "component"
and the customer service person didn't know. That's understandable.
She just takes the order, and someone else decides what to send.
By the way, when I called to report an actual
problem with the condition of the furniture to the person at the Customer Care
desk, they have always been very helpful. I think the key is getting the
right phone number.
So I received my repair "component" by mail.
It was the fabric. I assume that Chaz is going to take the chair apart
again, and just stretch the fabric over the right arm of the chair, which is
actually the left arm of the chair.
Or vice versa.
I waited a few days and no one called to actually
schedule the repair. I realized I was probably supposed to call them and
let them know the "component" had arrived.
So I did.
They said they would call back to schedule the
She called the next day. Four days to
That was fast.
I asked if Chaz would be the repair guy. She
didn't know who it would be, because there are several, but that I could
I did request Chaz, because if he doesn't come I
have to explain to the new guy that the other arm wasn't actually completely
repaired and Chaz had promised to fix it on the follow-up visit.
I foresee a potential problem.
Today is March 10. Three months after I
originally ordered the furniture. The technician arrives tomorrow between
one and four.
I actually sit in the chair most of the time and
rarely use the couch. Although I must admit, I'm constantly concerned I
might "break" 'the chair again. It seems pretty fragile now.
Needless to say, I'm not about rushing around
recommending Jennifer Convertibles Furniture to my friends.
I have received quite a few emails from people.
Some have had their own Jennifers horror story, some have decided not to shop
there because of my story and others have placed deposits then cancelled their
order. This story has cost them more money than they earned from my sale,
and I suppose I should take some satisfaction from that.
Early in the experience, when the rage was upon
me, I would have been extremely satisfied. The customer service from the
corporate office has actually been pretty good after the initial delivery
Still, I guess furniture is one of those things
where quality counts for more than I realized when I began this adventure.
You don't expect furniture to "break"...
Next time, whatever I buy will be sturdy, solid,
The Anticlimactic Conclusion
Well, Chaz did come and repair the other arm of
the chair. By previously taking apart the first arm, he had learned a
little about how the piece was put together. So he "undid" his first
repair and fixed that better, too.
At times, I receive lots of emails from people who
read this hopefully somewhat humorous horror tale about buying furniture.
Then things are quiet for awhile, then I get lots of emails again.
In the end, Jennifer Furniture must not be too
worried about any negative stories. They advertise and get NEW customers
all the time, and probably consider the previous customers with bad experiences
a cost of doing business.
My satisfaction comes from everyone who uses the
internet and when looking up Jenner Convertibles, or Jennifer Furniture (or
something close), reads the story and writes back saying, "You saved me from
making a big mistake!" -- or something like that.
As for Jennifer Furniture , there has been no
official response from the company, nor do I expect one.
July 13, 2005
Today, the right arm of the chair broke.
However, Jennifer considers the right arm to be the left arm because it is the
arm you are LOOKING AT that describes it to them. For you and me and all
the other consumers in the world, we describe it as the RIGHT arm because that
is where it is located when we sit in the chair.
Come to think of it, that is probably the
company's point of view -- opposite that of the consumer.
(Link to this story!)
The more web-pages that link to this story, the
longer it will continue to appear at the top of the search engines, and will
continue to cost Jennifer at least a marginal amount of business.
Real Estate & Mortgage Insights