Couple’s dispute over ‘chemical smell’ sofa

5 Laburnum Court Bridlington'Margaret Wilson and her husband have had trouble with the DFS company'PA1127-21a
5 Laburnum Court Bridlington'Margaret Wilson and her husband have had trouble with the DFS company'PA1127-21a

A BRIDLINGTON couple spent six months trying to return a DFS sofa set they feared was damaging their health due to its strong ‘chemical smell’.

Peter and Margaret Wilson, of Laburnum Close, bought the £1,600 sofa set from the Hull DFS store in January this year, but soon noticed a pungent aroma coming from the chairs.

When the smell did not disappear within the first month, the couple contacted the store and asked for their money back – sparking a six-month battle which ended up with the Wilson’s taking DFS to the civil claims court in Scarborough.

Margaret, 71, explains: “It has been awful. I’ve lost weight over this, we’ve both felt ill and all we wanted was a nice sofa to sit on.

“The smell was horrendous, it was a real chemical smell which was particularly bad when the sun was on the sofa.

“We had to leave the windows open all the time and we’ve basically spent £1,600 on sofas we can’t even use.

“I contacted everyone, from DFS to trading standards and even went down to the fire station because I was so worried about the chemical smell and what it was doing to our health.

“They told us to keep the sofa covered and not to sit on it in case it burnt us or gave us a rash.”

DFS did send two upholsterers to inspect the leather sofa set – which comprised of one armchair, two sofas and a footrest – but they found no fault with it.

However, an independent inspection by a Bridlington upholsterer concluded that there was a chemical smell coming from the set and that some of the cushions were faulty.

The Wilsons pursued their claim through the County Court and when DFS failed to respond, a warrant for execution was issued allowing the Wilsons to bring in the bailiffs to remove the sofa.

DFS was also ordered to refund the cost of the sofa, plus an additional £95 in court costs.

“I don’t know why we’ve had to go through all this,” said Mrs Wilson, who added that her husband suffers from breathing problems including emphysema and asthma.

“All they had to do was say ‘fine, we’ll come and get the sofa and give you your money back’ and everything would’ve been fine, but instead we’ve had this nightmare that’s lasted six months.”

When contacted by the Free Press on Friday morning last week, a spokesman for DFS said the company would be picking the sofa up that day and refunding the couple.

By the end of the day, representatives from DFS had collected the items and the Wilsons were fully reimbursed, plus court costs.

A spokesman for DFS told the Free Press: “DFS has been in business for over 40 years and we pride ourselves on the customer service that we provide to our customers.

“We are sorry that Mr Wilson was unhappy with his furniture.

“We can confirm that Mr Wilson made contact with our Hull store one month after delivery to say the furniture was ‘unsuitable’.

“The staff at the store responded quickly to arrange a visit to inspect the goods and could find no manufacturing defects nor an unusual aroma.

“As such and also because the furniture was made to order we said we would not be able to allow the return of the furniture as requested, a further visit was arranged for a second opinion and the conclusion was the same.

“However, recognising that Mr Wilson was not happy with his choice DFS offered for him to re-select to alternative furniture as a gesture of goodwill.

“Unfortunately Mr Wilson declined the offer and despite our attempts to resolve this decided to pursue the matter through the small claims court and due to an administrative error at the court a judgment was passed in favour of Mr Wilson.

“As such we have collected the furniture and arranged a full refund.”