Allen and Joann Leyner of Colonia needed some furniture.
In August 2016, they spent $2,500 on a couch, matching chair and ottoman from the Huffman Koos store in Watchung.
The couple said the couch was defective. Something wasn’t right with the cushions.
“When you sit on the couch, you lean to one side like you’re falling off the couch,” Allen Leyner said.
So the couple called the company for help, and over the course of several months, service technicians came to their home six times, they said.
Cushions were ripped open and extra foam was installed, the couple said. Other times, they were given replacement cushions — 10 cushions in all — but those, too, were faulty.
Leyner said he worked with the store manager, who said he would be happy to give the Leyners a refund. But when it went to corporate, the refund request was denied, he said.
The couple continued to try to get a fix from the company, but Huffman Koos said no.
“They said were not doing anything more and we said, ‘Give us our money back,’ and they said no,” Leyner said.
They next tried to file a dispute with their credit card, but it was too late. They waited too long, sacrificing many months waiting for new cushions to be delivered or for service technicians to work on the couch.
The couple decided to file a complaint with Consumer Affairs, but they knew that could take a very long time to resolve.
So they filed suit in small claims court on May 30, 2017. Then in August — now a year after the couch was purchased — they needed to refile in a different county because the company’s headquarters moved from Passaic to Fairfield.
That did the trick.
Huffman Koos didn’t show up to court, and the couple received a default judgment of $1,012, covering the cost of the couch, taxes and the court filing fees, records show.
That was Oct. 6. Two weeks later, Huffman Koos appealed, but the company lost on Nov. 17.
The default judgment of $1,012 would stand.
But the Leyner’s story didn’t end there.
Leyner said he’s called Huffman Koos’ accounts payable department daily, sometimes more often, since the company lost the appeal. He said he left messages, but no one returned his calls or sent him a letter to address the outstanding judgment.
Unsure of what to do next, they reached out to Bamboozled.
GETTING IT DONE
We reviewed the court documents and the Leyner’s timeline of events, and then we reached out to Huffman Koos.
It wasn’t easy.
Each time we entered an employee name in the “dial by name” directory, we got stuck in a loop asking us to enter the name again.
There was no option for an operator.
That took about an hour, so we can only imagine what customers go through.
But we persisted, leaving several voice mails all around the company and at individual stores. A message got through to Ted Besaw, director of guest services for the company.
In an email, Besaw said the company has been trying to reach the Leyners to arrange pick-up of the couch.
Besaw offered several options.
“We can pick up the furniture and once returned we will send the check for the amount ordered as the check was cut already for the customer,” Besaw wrote. “If the customer is not satisfied with that option we are willing to send the check with the delivery company at the time of pick up to be given to the customer once the goods are removed from their home.”
If the Leyners aren’t willing to return the defective couch, the company would file a motion with the court to order the return, which would delay the refund process, Besaw said.
That’s a fair enough request. The couple had no interest in keeping the couch, and they said the company never asked for it back. They only wanted the judgment to be satisfied.
“That’s a lot of baloney,” Leyner said. “No one ever said they were going to give us a check. No one called us to get the furniture.”
It’s also important to note the court order had no stipulations requiring the couch to be returned before the judgment was paid.
We checked with Anthony Vignier, an attorney in Kearny, to make sure we weren’t missing something in the court order.
Vignier said the couple could probably ignore the request because Huffman Koos could have counter sued, but it didn’t.
But that’s not really an issue because the couple doesn’t care about the couch.
Still, we asked Besaw if we were misunderstanding the judgment against the company.
He agreed the couple wasn’t required to return the couch per the default judgment, but the company could still put forth a motion, which would delay the couple getting paid.
“We are trying to avoid any further delays,” Besaw said. “We have every intention of paying the judgment but we will need the defective furniture back to return to the manufacturer.”
He asked us to talk to the couple.
The Leyners said they’d be happy to return the couch — as long as they receive the check and the check clears first.
We took that back to Besaw.
“Respectfully, we are skeptical that we will get our sofa back,” he said.
Okay. One more round. We asked Besaw if the pick-up driver could give the couple cash, then take away the couch.
Instead, he suggested the Leyners put in writing their intention to return the couch after the judgment check clears.
The couple agreed.
The company overnighted the check. It cleared, and the couple arranged for Huffman Koos to pick up the couch and all those extra cushions.
A happy ending.
One more note: Had the company not agreed to pay, the couple did have other options to try to collect on the judgment — something you should remember, dear readers, if this ever happens to you.
To learn more, read this guide by the New Jersey Judiciary.