Here comes the sofa, bearing bad news

TIGHT SQUEEZE: Delivery staff huffed and puffed to get the assembled sofa into Ms Sheena Jebal's flat, breaking potted plants and damaging her parquet flooring. But that was just the start of her problems.


    Dec 04, 2013

    Here comes the sofa, bearing bad news

    PICKING out a sofa turned into an eight-month-long nightmare for Ms Sheena Jebal, chief executive of a counselling centre.

    In January, the 39-year-old paid a deposit of $1,000 for a white sofa she saw at a furniture fair. She was to pay the remaining $800 upon delivery.

    The seemingly straightforward purchase culminated in her having to go in and out of court, and make a police report against staff from the sofa company.

    She is just one unhappy customer among many. The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) received 1,347 complaints against furniture companies from January to October this year, more than the 1,306 it received for the whole of last year.

    Ms Sheena's ordeal is typical. When the sofa she ordered from Furniture Collection Centre arrived in April - already late - it came with trouble.

    The men who delivered it huffed and puffed to get the assembled giant into her flat, breaking potted plants outside her house in the process and damaging her parquet flooring.

    Pencilled words were visible against the white cloth and, at the back of the sofa, she could see foam filling.

    "When I asked them about it, they told me it is meant to be hidden by putting it against the wall," said Ms Sheena.

    When she refused to pay up, the staff made such a din that neighbours came out to check.

    She called the police, and the staff left.

    She made a complaint to Case, but in the meantime the company filed a claim against her for the money she owed.

    She won the case. She also won her case at the Small Claims Tribunal for a refund of her deposit.

    Mr Seah Seng Choon, Case's executive director, said that the top furniture-related complaints were defective goods, failure to honour and delayed delivery.

    Three companies were cited most often: V. Hive, Olena, and The Montella.

    Shedding light on the complaints, a Singapore Furniture Association representative said: "For instance, if the manufacturing company is in China, and there are salary issues there, it may cause a delay in delivery."

    He added that consumers are also more aware of channels for help, and more willing to come forward with their complaints.