Vacuum sucks up dirt, leaves damaged mattress behind
Posted May 1, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh resident Byron Lanier said a demonstration by a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman last October left a row of holes and ripped seams in his mattress.
“He's going back and forth and back and forth with the mattress, and at some point we begin to see some tearing and so forth,” Lanier recalled. “By the time he recognized that it was actually tearing the mattress and ripping holes in the mattress, it was too late.”
Lanier contacted the company, MJD Distributing in Cary. After multiple back-and-forth emails and phone calls, MJD had Lanier email photos and a purchase receipt for the mattress.
“She says, 'I have forwarded the emailed pictures to Kirby Company and the process to get this resolved has been started,” Lanier said, reading one of the messages from MJD.
In November, Lanier got an email from MJD asking more questions, supposedly on behalf of Kirby.
“I'm thinking she's having conversation, so this is good,” he said. “Maybe the process is rolling and it's just taking a little longer than expected, but at least it's still rolling.”
Then, Lanier says, MJD stopped responding.
In February, he called The Kirby Co. headquarters and was told the company knew nothing of his complaint. A couple of weeks later, Kirby sent a letter saying the “damage is the responsibility of the independent distributor,” and that as of that month MJD was no longer a distributor.
The next part dumbfounded Lanier.
"Since so much time had elapsed,” the letter stated, “Kirby is unable to pursue your claim."
“I just don't understand,” Lanier said. “We've been in communication. We have phone records to show where we've been talking back and forth. I just couldn't believe that they would say that we can't resolve this matter due to the lapse in time.”
Fed up, Lanier called 5 On Your Side. We contacted Kirby representative Halle Sminchak, who emailed us a "gentle reminder" that sellers are "independently owned and operated" businesses.
But after more emails, photos, conversations and negotiation, Sminchak sent Lanier a check for $825.
He's relieved but frustrated it took so much to get Kirby to fix the mattress mess ultimately caused by one of their products.
“They did not come in and find the mattress this way, and I don't expect the mattress to be this way at the end of the day,” Lanier said.
Kirby calls the resolution a "gesture of goodwill.”
Lanier checked with the retailer and mattress manufacturer to see if the mattress could be repaired, and he was told it could not.