Couple frustrated when guarantee didn't cover problem

January 3, 2012 8:45:00 PM PST
When you're buying a big ticket item, it's hard to resist buying a warranty to guarantee it will have a long life. However, as one couple found out, a lifetime guarantee doesn't necessarily guarantee it will last a lifetime.

Less than a year after Ed and Adelina Yglesias bought a leather chair, they noticed a small crack in the upholstery. Soon the crack grew bigger, and then came another crack and another and yet another.

"It started growing and growing," Adelina said.

"I can feel it on my head, some pieces can be sharp you know," Ed said.

The couple figured it would no problem. They had purchased a lifetime leather protection plan along with the chair at Jennifer Convertibles in Colma. So they contacted the store and asked to have the chair repaired or replaced under that lifetime guarantee.

"'We're not going to fix it anything,' that's what they told me," Ed said.

They were stunned when Jennifer Convertibles said the lifetime guarantee does not cover their type of damage. The retailer pointed to the list of exclusions in the warranty, saying it doesn't cover "fading, cracking and peeling."

"Why not? I mean that's what your salesman told us that, 'anything you don't need to worry for that amount of money, you don't need to worry,' he even mentioned cracking and peeling," Adelina said.

Ed and Adelina claim the sales person promised the warranty would cover all damage, regardless of the exclusions.

"That's why we decided to buy the warranty," Adelina said.

The couple said they wouldn't have paid $179 for the protection plan if they had known the cracking could happen and the warranty wouldn't help. They filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and they contacted 7 On Your Side.

7 On Your Side found more than a dozen similar complaints online from other Jennifer Convertibles customers who were also upset their leather cracked, and the plan wouldn't kick in.

So 7 On Your Side contacted Jennifer Convertibles.

Jennifer Convertibles said Ed and Adelina should have known about the terms, saying "The problem they complain clearly listed as an exclusion on the copy of the plan they were provided with in writing at the time of sale."

The plan actually covers only "accidental customer caused damage" such as "nicks, punctures, rips, scratches and cigarette burns." However, Jennifer Convertibles said because the couple was not satisfied with those terms, the company agreed to refund the $179 they paid for the plan "as a courtesy."

That sits just fine with Ed and Adelina.

"Channel 7 has a lot to do with this; yes, I'm really very happy," Adelina said.

The lesson here is to read all the terms of a protection plan before you buy it and if it says "lifetime guarantee" on the top, find out exactly what is guaranteed because it may not be the coverage you really need.