John McGuire doesn’t like to owe money.
But first, finding the right sofa.
On Aug. 5, McGuire found it at Raymour & Flanigan in Secaucus: a black Cindy Crawford Home Bellamy leather sofa.
He was happy with the couch, and he arranged delivery and payment. McGuire decided to charge a down payment of $400 on a credit card, and he financed the rest through the store’s financing program with Wells Fargo because he’d receive a discounted price on the sofa.
That’s when the trouble started.
“I admit I’ve never been a saint all my life, but my credit is spotless,” said a frustrated McGuire.
Until he did business with Raymour & Flanigan, that is.
McGuire’s new sofa was delivered on Aug. 8, and all was well.
In a couple of weeks, McGuire had the funds to pay the remaining balance of $969.60, and he did, sending a check to the store on Sept. 1. This was before he even received an official bill from the financing arm of the company.
“I don’t like to owe any money,” he said.
The check, reviewed by Bamboozled, was cashed by Raymour & Flanigan on Sept. 6.
Later that month, McGuire said he received a bill for the period Sept. 17 through Oct. 17, owing interest charges and a late fee. The new balance was $1,076.51.
McGuire said he faxed documents and proof of payment — the cashed check — twice to Raymour & Flanigan, but late notices kept on coming. He called the store several times, but he didn’t seem to get anywhere. Then he started getting calls from Wells Fargo, the financing company.
“They’re all saying it’s my problem,” he said. “I tell them I believe it’s theirs. (Wells Fargo) keeps bouncing me back to Raymour & Flanagan and vice versa. They tell me to do this and that. Go to bank. Call the bank. Call Raymour & Flanigan. Never ends. I’m tired of this.”
The store said it sent the payment to Wells Fargo, but Wells Fargo told McGuire it didn’t have it.
Several times. Through September and October, McGuire said he’d call to try to track down the payment, to no avail.
“They threaten to ruin my credit. I ran it yesterday and they’re already showing late payments,”
McGuire said. “I have a thick skin, but can you imagine if it’s a little old lady? This is clear-cut negligence on their part and I’m fuming.”
Bamboozled reached out to Raymour & Flanigan and Wells Fargo at the end of October to see whether they could track down the canceled check that we saw with our very own eyes.
Within a couple of days, problem solved.
Wells Fargo located the payment and posted it to the correct account.
“We advised the customer and we have requested that the payment be … posted to Mr. McGuire’s account and we’re waiving the late changes and interest and he’ll have a zero balance,” said Wells Fargo spokesman Kevin Friedlander. “We’ll update his credit report to show it was paid in full as of September 2011.”
But what went wrong?
It seems because McGuire made the payment before he even received a bill, the payment was misplaced.
“I just paid it off thinking it would go through, no problem,” McGuire said.
McGuire said despite the confusion, he would shop at Raymour & Flanigan again — he likes their furniture — and he’d even consider financing again if he’d receive a similar discount.
“I’ve learned my lesson,” he said. “I’d wait for the bill before I pay it off. This should not happen.”
JUSTICE FOR BAD MATTRESSES
It’s a joy to make fun of, but it’s a regulation for a reason.
We’re talking about those “Do not remove under penalty of law” tags that are supposed to be on all new mattresses.
The tags are required by state and federal law to inform consumers that a mattress complies with flammability standards.
In December 2010, Bamboozled brought you the story of Jim Hughes, who received two mattresses for his children, Montgomery, 8, and Caroline, 5, as part of a government program.
The mattresses appeared to be clean, but the Bayonne man noticed there were no tags. When he asked questions, no one had answers, so he contacted Bamboozled.
Hughes said he called the company that delivered the mattresses — Alba Furniture & Appliance of Union City — to ask about the missing tags, but the store assured him the mattresses were new.
We took a look at the manufacturer, Brooklyn Sleep Products, and learned it had been exposed for unsavory practices during a 2008 investigation by “Dateline NBC.”
The show tracked a bedbug-laden mattress that was taken off the street and delivered to Brooklyn Sleep Products for refurbishing. A hidden camera showed used mattresses stored with new ones before they were sold. Mattresses purchased from Brooklyn and tested by the show found bedbugs, urine, fecal matter, fungi and bacteria, the report said.
The feds started looking at Brooklyn in 2008, when the company’s Model 700 mattresses — the same model delivered to the Hughes family — failed an unannounced Consumer Product Safety Commission flammability test. The mattresses failed again in March 2009, and again in February 2010.
CPSC took Brooklyn Sleep Products to court in the fall of 2010, and the case has finally come to a conclusion.
In early November, a federal judge granted a motion by the CPSC and entered a permanent injunction against Brooklyn Sleep Products and owner Francisco Chavez.
According to court documents, the company and its owner didn’t show for the court date, so a default judgment was entered against them.
The company and its principals are enjoined from the mattress business in just about any form until they receive written notice that they’re in compliance from CPSC; they must recall all violation mattresses; they must pay the costs incurred by CPSC’s supervision, inspections, investigations, analyses, examinations and reviews; and if they fail to comply with the order, they must pay damages of $1,000 per day.
“Mattresses that comply with the federal mattress flammability standard are more fire-resistant and give consumers valuable time to get out of the house alive,” said CSPC spokeswoman Patty Davis. “Brooklyn Sleep Products put consumers’ lives at risk by selling mattresses that don’t meet the standard. CPSC will continue to vigorously enforce the law and to protect consumers.”
“The Star-Ledger’s Bamboozled column helped CPSC secure a victory in its case against this firm and its owner,” she said. “This ruling is a victory for consumer safety,” she said.
Amen, sister. A victory, indeed.