Refused refund for dodgy mattress- options?

We bought a new mattress the other day and got home to find that the fabric was tearing at the stitching in many spots, all over the mattress (plus some of the stitching was coming off). On closer inspection, the fabric used looks very prone to tearing as it has done.

We were very disappointed but assumed we’d have no problem with a refund as it was that dodgy.

The owner of the shop first tried to palm of responsibility to the manufacturer (ie. “it’s not our responsibility, but it’s under warranty, they can deal with it”). Then she was suggesting they might be able to get the manufacturer to fix it, but arguing that it wasn’t a major fault. We’ve left it at the shop, and she said she’d call us on Monday after speaking with the manufacturer.
We’ve clearly bought a dodgy mattress, and I really don’t trust that they can fix it such that we won’t keep having problems with it. And maybe I’m wrong, but I also don’t think I should have to accept ‘a fix’ in this case (or do I?).

Is there a way for me to just get them to refund the purchase? The store owner seems really determined to not refund it

Some examples below… it’s like this in many spots on the mattress: :worried:

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Stating the obvious, Your photo shows the stitching process has damaged the fabric beyond repair short of a complete reupholstery job. A question is whether this item is an anomaly or reflects the manufacturers product quality. If the latter I could not imagine they remain in business, so the benefit of doubt is warranted.

Legally I would think so but in practice it is not always that easy. Choice has a good page on the Australian Consumer Law and your rights, and the process has been advised in multiple threads on the forum as well as on the ACL website.

For starters you might have a friendly chat with the shop about quality and your rights under the ACL, and what you want. If they balk they need to understand that resolution is their responsibility, and from that go formal with the process including a ‘letter of demand’. There are templates you can use on the referenced site.

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I agree with what @PhilT said, but given you have already tried talking, I would take a letter of demand to the shop with you. On the Choice page, there is advice on what to include in your letter. I would add to that:

  1. type out your concerns in a factual manner, and attach relevant photos
  2. print out this page ACCC: ACL - Repair, replace, refund and attach it.
  3. Highlight the following three sections:

"A product or good has a major problem when:

  • it has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it
  • it is significantly different from the sample or description".

"Returning the product
When a product is too large, too heavy or too difficult to remove, the business is responsible for paying the shipping costs or collecting the product within a reasonable time of being notified of the problem. Examples include:

  • a wide screen TV
  • a bed
  • an extension ladder stuck in the extended position
  • a product that has been subsequently installed, like a stove or a dishwasher…"
    You do not have to return products in the original packaging in order to get a refund."

"Approaching the retailer or manufacturer
The retailer who sold you the product or service cannot refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer. "

Just in case the retailer chooses not co-operate, take someone with you who can take notes and be a witness to the conversation. Those notes can be used later when you take your next steps as per the Choice page.

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It would also be n interesting to know the name of the retailer and also the brand/manufacturer of the mattress.

Others may search for reviews of the product/retaiker and may come across this post that you have made.

Your photos are also good and ahow exactly what the problem is, and the fault is sigjificant as it appears the fabric will continue to rip over the mattresses life. Did you show the retailer these photos?

I also agree with what @PhilT & @meltam have posted above.

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First I agree with the 3 posts above.

Second if going to the store to deliver your letter ensure you have the legal right to secretly record your conversation and if allowed to then do so (smartphones do a good job of this). Reason being particularly if you can’t bring a friend that you can get proof that you delivered the letter but also capture any deviation they take from the ACL requirements.

In any conversation be firm but don’t be abusive.

Also consider sending a letter by registered post so that you get a signature as proof of delivery.

All the things you do make sure you document them as you may have to approach your Office of Fair Trading to help get a result and they and any dispute resolution service like VCAT, QCAT etc will require proof of actions taken eg Diary entries, proof of receipt of letters, details of telephone calls including time, date, whom you spoke to, and what was discussed (a summary of what was said).

Finally if you are a member of Choice make use of their help service.

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Thank you all so much. All the information you’ve provided is very helpful!

@phb - The shop we bought it from (a small one) is called Kev’s Beds, in Osborne Park, WA. I’ll have to check the brand of mattress and post it later. We actually have another mattress from this brand which has lasted over 20 years and is in great condition, but the fabric used is entirely different, and in comparison, far better quality.

I will try to write them a letter of complaint (@PhilT this is what I found on the ACCC website- is this different from a ‘letter of demand’)?

And @meltam, where is the advice on what to add to the letter on the Choice page? I’ve had some trouble finding it.

@grahroll - yes, I’m a member of Choice, and I wasn’t aware of their help service- it looks very useful!

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That appears to be it. It seems they have changed the terminology to make it sound less fearsome.

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Yes, it does sound less fearsome. :slight_smile:

Well, I’ve sent them a letter by email so far (based on the ACCC’s template) and will try to deliver a physical copy to them tomorrow. It’s so miserable having to fight these battles, but with eveyone’s help it was much easier to get to this stage at least!

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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My mistake. To see if you have all bases covered, have a look at https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/complaints-problems/write-a-complaint-letter

Hope that helps.

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I think it is when a debt is owed that a “Letter of Demand” (LoD) can be used, so it is for an amount of money owed rather than a demand under ACL for repair, replace, or refund. Once you have an agreement to refund and it doesn’t occur then a LoD could be used. I may be corrected on this as I am not sure of the exact law in this regard.

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Good luck getting it sorted out @Ijon, please keep us updated as you progress.

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You can find a reference to a LoD from this page. Note the 2009 date but about the pre 2011 ACL… I still think they just changed the terminology as it regards the ACL.

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Thank you @PhilT for that link Muchas gracias.

I read further up it was a letter of complaint then they did a letter of demand lol. Wonder if it was used in that terminology as they sought a refund?? I guess it doesn’t matter really as long as the request/demand is made.

All I could find in the legal sense was a demand for money even on the State legal sites which is what got me wondering as they all referred to that money demand rather than other requests…

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So we’ve received two phone calls from the manufacturer, SlumberCorp. (And none from the retailer).

The first one, on Monday, was to ask for our address to see/pick up the mattress, though we’d left it with the retailer when we complained to them directly. The manufacturer said they can’t do refunds if we’ve taken it home because it’s an ‘intimate product’. My father (who took the call) told her we wanted to deal with the retailer, not the manufacturer.

Then yesterday we got a second phone call. The manufacturer, having seen the mattress, told me the problem was minor, just “a couple of missed stitches” and that we aren’t entitled to a refund, nor to deal with the retailer directly, under consumer law. She offered to ‘upgrade’ the fabric on the same mattress instead.

Now, there’s a chance that might fix the problem, but her insisting it was just ‘a couple of missed stitches’ does not fill me with confidence about their standards.

It was rather irritating too, for her to be throwing consumer law at me, after flat out refusing a refund without even seeing the mattress, initially. It felt like she was trying to pressure us into accepting. I’m not sure why they’re fighting so hard to not refund it. If I’d sold or produced something dodgy, I’d be very apologetic and be more concerned about the reputation of my product/company.

I just want to get a refund and be done with it. I think it is a major problem and I took numerous photos of the condition it was in before returning it. I seriously doubt anyone would knowingly buy a new mattress in this condition.

The retailer still has quite a few days left to get back to me based on the letter I sent her, but I don’t think she will. :disappointed:

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And in case anyone looks for reviews of it on the forum, it’s a ‘SlumberCare The Darwin’ mattress, from Kev’s Beds, Osborne Park, WA.

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Under the consumer law, refunds are usually only offered when there is a major problem with a product. As the manufacturer has indictaed that the mattress can be readily repaired by recovering it with an upgraded material, it is most likely that the defect would be classed as minor.

If the manufacturer indicated that the mattress couldn’t be repaired (which has not occurred in your case), then it would definitely be a major problem with the mattress you bought. If this was the case, then you would have every right to seek a replacement or refund under the Australian Consumer Law.

As the manufacturer has indicated that it can be readily repaired, it may be in your interests to make contact with them again and accept this offer. It is unlikely you will get any alternative ‘joy’ from the retailer if they do make contact with you in the future. If you think there is a chance the retailer may offer something different, wait for their response, before contacting the manufacturer.

Also, from the photos you have shown, it doesn’t look like a missed stitch but a pulled stitch which as resulted in the tearing of the covering fabric. I beleive that this could be due to either the fabric being pulled too tight when it was stitched, or the fabric on you particular mattress was not of sufficient strength to hold the stitch. Irrespectice of the cause, the recovering with a ‘better quality/upgraded fabric’ would/should retify the problem which has occurred.

If you proceed with the recovering of the mattress with upgraded material, see if you can go to the place where recovering occurs (if it is nearby) to ensure that it has been recovered to your satisfaction. This may reduce any further headaches especially if the upgraded material exhibitis the same problem.

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They cannot say you can’t deal with the Retailer (specifically this is against the ACL). In fact it is your right to deal with the retailer as that is with whom you created a contract of sale, not the manufacturer.

The ACL states you are entitled to a Refund, Repair or Replacement (your choice of remedy not their’s) if you would not have bought the item if you had been aware of the fault. Would you have bought the mattress? If not then there is your grounds for a refund (your choice).

I still recommend you use the Choice Help service to negotiate these troubled waters.

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Hi @Ijon, I support the above assessments of the situation. If you wanted further advice, you could contact CHOICE Help or even Consumer Affairs and see if they can provide some further guidance on major/minor faults. They may also be able to contact the retailer just to let them know their obligations under the law.

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Hi @Ijon, just thinging further on the photos, the pulled materials/stitching may also not be a manufacturing fault, but was caused from the handling of the mattress somewhere from its production to when you noticed it. If this was the case, it could have been done at the factory, by the freight company taking the mattress to the retailer, by the retsiler moving the mattress or by yourselves when taking the mattress from the retailer to your house.

As the pulled stitching and material is close to the edge of the mattress, it may have come under excessive load when it was picked up or pulled (say to move the mattress). Under such conditions, the load on the stitching and fabric may exceed the strength of the fabric/stitching causing it to tear the fabric at the stitching and/or to break the stitching. It is a bit like stretching the neck hole of a t-shirt…one can put a small amount of force on the neck hole to pull it over ones head without damaging the fabric, but if one tries to make the neck hole considerably larger by pulling with both anhds, the neck hole will be irreversible stretched.

If the above is how the problem arose with the mattress, the manufacturer may not be actually responsible for the damage. The manufacturer should possibly make it clear how to handle the mattress to present damage to its internals and fabric/stitching…but such damage may not be a quality issue but from the inappropriate or excessively over exerting force when handling.

Again, if the damage is from handling, maybe accepting the manufacturer’s offer to recover the mattress in an ‘upgraded’ fabric is the most appropriate solution as it will repair the damage caused. It is also possibly a good will gesture if they believe the mattress was cause by someone else handling it.

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