My Never-ending Adventure with West Elm Customer Service

I purchased 2 couches from West Elm in January. I ordered them in person and scheduled for them to be delivered in April. That was a long time to wait but it was worth it to get some nice couches that we really liked.

The couches were delivered on time, with no issues. They looked great and we were happy. But it didn’t take long before we realized they weren’t very high quality. They started leaking feathers all over the place, the cushions didn’t hold their shape and the arms seemed a little flimsy.

At the end of July, 3 and half months later, I sat on one of the couches and the front beam snapped in half. (Ok, just cause I know you’re wondering… I’m not an enormous person)

I immediately called West Elm to find out what we’re supposed to do. They guy on the phone didn’t really believe me so he asked me to email him photos of the couch.

He said “email the pictures to seholguin@wsgc.com”. He spelled the whole thing out. Trying to copy a random sequence of letters over the phone never goes well so I repeated it back to him multiple times to make sure I got it right. wsgc.com is nothing. There’s nothing there. I checked when we were still on the phone. I was skeptical but he assured me it was right.

I emailed the photos and never heard anything back. I waited two weeks and then checked Twitter to see if West Elm had decent Twitter customer service (cause I’ve had better luck with that sometimes). They don’t. I found a customer service email address and sent this message along with a few pictures of the broken couch.

Aug 19
We bought 2 Dunham couches that were just delivered in April. One of them already broke. The front support beam split in half under completely normal usage. We expected these couches last a long time. Honestly, an Ikea couch would have last longer. We kinda want to return both of them. How would we go about doing that?

I received a pretty prompt response, just 24 hours later.

Aug 20
Hello Luke,
Thank you for writing in to share your experience. I am so sorry to see that one of them has broken.
Would you be possibly interested in a replacement? If so I would just need a few more photos of the affected areas, as well as a shot of the whole sofa. Is the sofa used a lot? Is it in a high traffic area in your home?
If you would like to return them I would be happy to facilitate this for you. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.
Moving forward I would like to be your personal contact; and I will continue to follow your order until everything is resolved. I have included my contact information below for your reference. Please feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns I may address for you. I look forward to your reply.

That sounds nice. I’m glad we can just communicate over email. “Is it in a high traffic area in your home?” Hmm… was that not allowed? Part of the fine print?

I responded generically.

Aug 24
Hi *****, thanks for getting back to us.
We would like to return both couches. Do you need more pictures from me? What specific pictures do you want?
Thank you.

I received a response a few days later.

Aug 27
Hello Luke,
I apologize for my delayed response as I was out of the office on Tuesday and Wednesday. We do need to have our delivery quality team inspect some pictures of the sofa first. As these were direct ship sofas we would not be able to return the non damaged sofa. We would like to see if there is another resolution for this as far as having the damaged sofa repaired or replaced as this does seem uncommon for our sofas.
Do you mind sending a few pictures of all affected areas, as well as a shot of the whole sofa? What happened just before it broke? Was it moved? Did it get snagged on a rug or something similar? Is the sofa frequently used? Please let me know at your convenience the above information as well as those photos.
Thank you.

I responded with a bunch of pictures and this note.

You can see where the couch is broken across the front. We ended up propping it up with books.
Aug 29
Hmm, that’s a bummer. We don’t want it replaced. We would just like to return it. We haven’t been happy with either of them. They don’t hold their shape very well, they leak feathers all day, and now it looks like they’re not very durable.
I guess if West Elm won’t take them both back we’ll just return the broken one, then we’ll sell the other and be a little reluctant to buy furniture from West Elm in the future.
The couch hasn’t moved since it was delivered. Nothing weird has happened with the couch. We use it daily as its in our family room. We have two small kids but we have a rule of no standing or playing on the couch. We haven’t put anything heavy on it. It broke when I sat on it one day. My wife says she has heard it creak a couple of times but didn’t think anything of it.

She quickly responded with

Aug 29
Thank you for providing me these pictures. I have forwarded all this information to our delivery quality team. They will review the photos and your order within the next 2–3 business days and either an associate from that department, or I will be in touch with our next steps.
Please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns.

5 days passed and I hadn’t heard anything so I responded

Sep 3
Any update on this? I havent heard anything yet.

Her

Sep 4
When checking on your order I found it is still under review by our delivery quality team. I have sent them another email requesting a response as soon as possible. I will keep a close eye on it to ensure you are updated as soon as possible.

I had a missed call from an unknown number at some point but didn’t think anything of it cause… well… I never do. I found a voicemail after a while and noticed that it was them wanting to schedule to come inspect the couch so they can fix it. So I emailed back. This delay was my fault, I didn’t see that they called and didn’t check my voicemail right away. Oh well.

Sep 26
Hi ******, what is the next step? I may have missed a phone call at some point.
I got a message about someone wanting to fix it but I don’t really want it fixed, i just want to return it and get a refund.
Thanks

She responded

Sep 26
Our records do indicate a member of our delivery quality team did reach out and got your voice mail, which may be the message you’re referencing. I will forward your information on to that team member and let them know you do request to be called back.

Nothing

Oct 24
I still haven’t heard anything. I’m starting to get really annoyed. I’ve had a broken couch that we can’t use in my living room for over a month now. Can you connect me with the complaints department?

Quick response

Oct 24
Thank you for your email. I’m very disheartened to see our delivery quality department hasn’t been in touch recently. As they are the team that has taken ownership of your order I’ve escalated your issue to the supervisor in that department. I will make sure this gets resolved quickly.
I’d be happy to pass along any feedback you’d like to share.

I got a phone call at this point from the customer service supervisor. She apologized and said that she’d get someone to contact me immediately. She said she’d watch it on her side and that she’d know if nobody contacted us within 24 hours. I’m getting closer! (no, I’m not)

3 weeks passed with no word from anyone.

I asked a few friends how to a company’s attention. Do I tweet? Write a blogpost? Threaten to sue? Just move on?

Someone suggested I tell them that “my lawyer will be in contact with them”.

Someone else suggested that I send an email and threaten a chargeback on the credit card if it’s not resolved in 24 hours. That way you give them an in-writing last chance and if that doesn’t work I get my money back and they’ll be really incentivized to get the issue resolved.

I sent them this email.

Nov 9
I’ve been trying for a long time to get an issue of mine resolved with West Elm.
I bought 2 couches earlier this year. Order number is *********. They were delivered to my home in April. The quality on the couches is really low and in fact, after just 3 months of owning them one of them completely broke in the front. It is now being held up by a stack of books and we can’t really use it.
I’ve contacted many people at West Elm via both email and phone. Every time I talk to someone they sound happy to help and apologetic for the inconvenience. But then nothing ever happens. I just get passed from department to department, often resulting in dead ends (either an answering machine or someone saying they’ll give me a call back the next day and then never do).
I’m fed up with this at this point. This broken couch has been in my living room for over 3 months at this point. I’ve tried to be nice and cordial with everyone but it’s gotten to the point where that apparently doesn’t work as an approach with this company.
I do not want these couches fixed. I do not want these couches replaced. I just want them to be picked up and my money refunded.
Since this has been so painful and so much effort, I want this resolved in the next 24 hours or I will issue a chargeback on the credit card I used to purchase the furniture.
Please let me know how you’d like to proceed.

I got a response almost immediately. Just 30 minutes later. Seems like the email is working. Never have I gotten such a quick response in an off hour too.

I can’t apologize enough that your issue isn’t getting resolved, and surely you’re tired of hearing me say it.
I’ve reached out again to the manager of the delivery quality team and told her this needs to be resolved within the next 24 hours.
If you don’t hear from anyone within 24 hours of now please tell me.
Thank you.

I got a phone call the next morning. It was the same person I talked to on the phone before. She also apologized and said “We’re not going to inspect the couch, I just scheduled to send you a replacement.”

I said very clear “I do not want a replacement. I want a refund… on both couches.”

She told me that she cannot do that because we’re outside the 30 day return policy. I asked her “Do you realize how crazy this all is? I bought a couch from you, that broke after 3 months, I’ve been trying to get help for 4 months now and we’ve made no progress. That’s crazy right?” She agreed. Ha.

She said that she can’t authorize a refund and that that group is really busy so any request for a refund can take up to 3 weeks. I told her that 3 weeks was too long and if that’s the answer then I’m going to just cut my losses, toss the couches and move on.

She apologized and said she’d put me on the 3 week list and she’d let me know when she heard something.

She called me back 30 minutes later. “Ok, it’s done, it’s all approved. We’ll return the couches and we’ll give you a full refund.”

I asked “What happened to 3 weeks?” She said she walked over and talked to them and told them the story and they just approved it on the spot.

You’re telling me this whole time they were in the same building????

She said the delivery office would call me to schedule the pickup.

Yay! We’re so close now. (don’t get your hopes up)

2 weeks passed… and… nothing. Again. Haven’t heard from anyone.

I realize that I didn’t get that lady’s phone number to call her directly if there was an issue. I call the generic phone number I had been using and asked for her by name. They told me that she was busy and had a few people ahead of me and asked if I’d like to hold or to talk to someone else. I told them I’d hold.

I sat on hold for 30 minutes. Then the original person comes back on the line and says “Ok, I’m transferring you now”. And then it transfers straight to her voicemail. Noooooooooooooooooo!

A few days later I tried calling her and I actually got a hold of her. I told her that still nothing had been scheduled. She said “I already closed out that ticket, I sent it to the delivery office, not sure why they haven’t done anything. I’ll try to light a fire under them.”

What do you mean “you already closed out the ticket”? Why? I still have a broken couch in my living room. And you still have my money. In what sense has this been resolved that you closed out the ticket?

There was no good answer to these questions other than it’s not in her department anymore.

That night, after not hearing anything again, I decided that I was going to call her every day until it was resolved.

I called her again the next morning. “It’s me again.” She know’s who I am at this point. It’s kind of sad. “I still haven’t heard from anyone, do you have an update on your end?”

She reminded me “The ticket is closed on my side so there’s nothing for me to do, I’ll call the other department and make sure they service this request as soon as possible.”

This time I told her “how about I call them. What’s the number that you’re about to call? I’d love to make the phone call. This is the part that always falls apart, you say that you’ll get them to call me, and then they don’t call me, so can I just call them?”

She said “well they’re busy so I don’t even know if they’ll even be able to come this year but I guess you can try. There’s a bunch of information you’ll need besides their phone number like a return authorization number, your order number, etc.”

I said “That’s fine, just give me all of the information I need to make the phone call you’re about to make.”

She gave me a few numbers to write down and the phone number.

I called the delivery office, someone answered, I told her that I had a return that I wanted to schedule, I asked if she needed the authorization number and all that stuff she said “no, just the order number”. I gave it to her and she said “oh, I see you have 2 couches you’re returning? yeah, I can schedule this right now, how about Saturday?”

“Saturday…? As in… THIS SATURDAY?”

“Yes”

“Um… yeah! Let’s do it!”

(we were planning on being out of town for Thanksgiving for most of Saturday so we were going to have to cut our trip short so we could be here Saturday morning but since we could see the light at the end of the tunnel it seemed worth it)

She said “Alright, you’re all set, they’ll be there Saturday. They’ll call you later this week to tell you what 2 hour window they’ll be at your house.”

I was so excited. We finally almost done. And for real this time. (or are we? hint: no, no we’re not)

Wait… why was it easier for me to get this scheduled than for someone that works there?

Friday night came and we hadn’t heard anything about a time window for them to come. Are they really going to come? Kinda seeming unlikely, but we better get back early Saturday morning just in case.

We drove home Saturday morning. Got home before 11:00 so we were feeling good about our chances on not having missed the pickup.

At 1:00 we still hadn’t heard anything so I called the delivery office and they said “yeah, you’re scheduled for today but I don’t know what time. Let me call the driver and get back to you on that.”

At 2:50 she called back and said “Sorry, the truck broke down, we’re going to have to reschedule your pickup for another time next week.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I laughed and said “you’re kidding, right?”

She said they were going to reschedule for Wednesday-Saturday next week. After asking for more options she said she’d call the driver and see if they could deliver on Monday instead and that she’d get back to me right away.

After not hearing back in 20 minutes I called her back. This time I get a voice message that says “I’m sorry, we are closed for the day. Our hours on Saturday are 7AM — 3:30PM PST”

For those of you keeping track at home, this phone call was made at 3:10. So I called again. And again. And again. Nothing.

Now it’s 5:30, November 28th and I still have my couches. They still have my money and I have no scheduled pickup date. Again.

This is never going to end, huh?

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