Furniture Frustrations: Another customer takes Sofa Beds & Recliners Unlimited to court
Another customer of Sofa Beds and Recliners Unlimited in North Fort Myers sued the furniture store after waiting for nearly a year for his furniture.
“I don’t feel these people [Sofa Beds and Recliners] deserve it– to be in business for all the lies and bull**** they fed me, that they’ve been feeding me over the last year,” said Bill Aker when explaining why he took the company to court.
Aker is one of 64 complaints submitted to the state, to call Better Business Bureau, or our WINK News Call for Action hotline against the store. Today in court, Aker and President of Sofa Beds and Recliners Jeff Granitstein met with a mediator to try come to an agreement before a court date was set.
“I’m trying to work it out with them,” said Aker. “hey [Sofa Beds] have until January 10 to deliver my furniture which I don’t believe they can do. It’s been since January 2, I ordered this furniture and it was supposed to be here six to eight weeks.”
Cape Coral resident and Buffalo native Ted Wackowski says he may turn to the court system to help him get a refund or his furniture.
“I don’t know where we’re going to go with it from here, looks like small claims court,” he said.
Wackowski has a receipt showing he gave Sofa Beds and Recliners $400 in June for his recliner. He says he’s been dealing with Jeff’s son, Lane.
“He [Lane] does make promises to you then when you go back, he denies any of the conversation,” said Wackowski. “About a month ago he was to call me with a specific delivery date, did not, [and] when I questioned him about that recently, he denies ever having that conversation with me and gets very loud and very forceful. He likes to use that force.”
More than one month ago we talked to Lane Granitstein outside of court about the contract his customers sign. At the bottom of the paper is states that deliveries could take “six to eight weeks or longer.” We asked him what “or longer” means.
“It can take longer. It depends on what company you buy from, how long it takes the manufacturer and how long it takes for me to ship the furniture,” said Lane.
We asked an associate attorney at Viles and Beckman in Fort Myers about the term “or longer” and if in the eyes of the law, there is a limit or definition to the term.
“Or longer is a very ambiguous term,” said Maria Alaimo. “And I think if the contract was challenged the law would agree. So what does that mean? Potentially they [a judge] could limit it to the six to eight weeks or they could strike that term “or longer” out of there.”
Contra Proferentem in contract law is known as “interpretation against the draftsman.” When there’s ambiguity in a contract, law tends to side with the party that did not draft the contract.
Alaimo says once the document is signed, customers in need of a solution would potentially have to go to court for help, like Bill Aker did.
Alaimo says when you see a vague, open ended contract you can always try to alter it before signing. And if that doesn’t work, “you certainly can take your business elsewhere. You don’t have to sign this and you don’t have to shop here.”
She says make sure to do your research before buying any big ticket items. Look for reviews online, on the Better Business Bureau website or even on Facebook.
We talked to Jeff Granitstein after his court appearance today. He tells us, “32 years in business with hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers. We had a tough year with extenuating circumstances that you don’t know about. We’re working that out now.”
When Jeff Granitstein was told the story was airing tonight at six and asked if there’s anything he wanted to say about Mr. Wackowski’s situation, Granitstein said “I’ve got a lot of customers and we’re going to take care of all them as soon as possible. That’s all I can say and thank you.”
Clarification to a version of this story that aired on WINK News on Dec. 20:
During a court appearance on November 15 a customer agreed in mediation that he would pay Sofa Beds and Recliners for his furniture if his entire order arrived at the store by December 10 (a couch and two chairs). We reported that the order was not there by Dec. 10, but we learned that the couch had arrived while the chairs had not.
Watch the full interview with Jeff Granitstein.