With summer around the corner, I've been looking around for outdoor furniture for a small deck off my kitchen. So when I came across a patio set designed for smaller spaces, I thought it was perfect. Online, the set was called "patio" furniture, featuring "all weather" cushions made "with a quick dry polyester fiber which makes them a great outdoor cushion."
I paid for the set to be delivered, set it up, and enjoyed it for a full day until it rained. The next day, the sun came out, but the cushions were sopping wet, so no one could sit on them. The day after that, despite more sun, the cushions were still wet. They looked dry, but after a friend sat on them for 15 minutes, his pants were soaked through. Seems the cushions didn't repel water, but absorbed it -- very well.
So what exactly were these cushions made of? I found a small label, and couldn't believe what it said: "Store inside overnight, on rainy days and in the off-season." Huh? Store inside overnight? And on rainy days? Isn't this supposed to be patio furniture? And since I live in Vancouver, we get a bit of rain. The cushions (for sitting on, and leaning against) clip into the base furniture. It's quite a process to get all thirteen of them (not including throw cushions) in place. Am I supposed to disassemble the set every night and drag the cushions inside? Even when it's not raining?
I called the store's customer service line to ask what info was right -- the store website, claiming the cushions were "all weather" and "quick dry", or the manufacturer that affixed a label saying the cushions had to be stored inside overnight. The customer service rep didn't know, and said the manufacturer is "completely independent from us -- you should check with them." I asked if she'd like to check with them for me (being a customer service rep 'n all...) but instead, she gave me the name and number of the manufacturer.
So, I called the manufacturer and asked whether this set was intended to be used outdoors. "Absolutely," said the store rep. When I explained that the cushions took days to dry after a rainfall, he told me "...the furniture is fine when it's sunny." What about bringing them in "overnight", as the label suggested? "You should probably do what the label says," he said. And as for the rain? He suggested I "buy a gazebo" (which his company also happened to sell).
I asked the store rep about the big-box store selling that patio furniture - with the website claiming the cushions are "all weather" and "quick dry" - and was told, "Yeah, that website is definitely not accurate. You should call them to let them know." I should call them? How about his company doing that? "Well, they're independent from us. We just give it to them, to sell. We don't control what they write about it."
A perfect example, I thought, of how customers fall through the cracks. The store selling the product claims no responsibility for this "independent manufacturer", and the manufacturer claims no responsibility for how the store selling its product spins the benefits. In the meantime, I'm left with 13 cushions piled in my kitchen, apparently unable to survive morning dew. I will call the store and tell them their website's incorrect (and hope their exchange policy is accurate). But right now, I'm looking for outdoor furniture that's actually okay...outdoors.
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