Earlier this year, Mrs. Chan bought a spinal protection mattress from Company A through a workers' association for $4,811. After using it for 3 months, she found that the area close to the bedhead was sagging. A few days later, Company A sent a technician to perform an on-site inspection, and measured the respective degree of sagging by putting the mattress on the bed base and the floor. When the technician saw the slatted bed base, he told Mrs. Chan that the problem might have been caused by the bed base as it did not provide a strong support to the mattress. He then took photos to bring back to the company for further investigation. Shortly after, Company A replied stating that the terms and conditions of the warranty had clearly set out that problems associated with the use of a slatted bed base would fall outside the warranty scope, so the company would not arrange for any replacement or free repair. Mrs. Chan was dissatisfied and argued that the distributor did not remind her of this particular term, and she only had the chance to read the terms after receiving the mattress and the warranty certificate. However, Company A insisted on its position. Mrs. Chan then lodged a complaint with the Council, saying that Company A should have disclosed such an important term at the time of sales so that a customer could make an informed decision. She said that she had already added a bed board on top of the slats and asked Company A to provide further services.
Follow up actions
The Council contacted the sales department of the workers´ association and Company A, respectively. The former explained that it had merely assisted the customer in placing an order with Company A and arranged delivery. It was not involved in the actual sales nor responsible for explaining warranty details on behalf of Company A. Company A also replied saying that the technician had found a slight indent around the waist area when the mattress was placed on the bed base, but it disappeared when the mattress was moved to the floor.
Company A reiterated that the terms and conditions of the warranty had clearly stated that certain situations would fall outside the scope, including the use of bed bases with inadequate support, such as mesh or slatted bed bases. Company A stated that no structural defect was found in Mrs. Chan’s mattress. They went on to explain that a slatted bed base could be uneven and was not solid enough to provide a good support to the mattress. Prolonged use of this kind of bed base could make a mattress sag. Notwithstanding the Council´s conciliation efforts, Company A insisted on handling the case in accordance with its warranty policy and refused to provide any free repair or replacement. As such, the Council suggested Mrs. Chan to resolve her dispute via other avenues.
Mr. Leung bought a double size mattress (valued at $49,000) from Company B two years ago. Recently, he often woke up with a back pain. He suspected something might be wrong with the mattress and called Company B. After an initial inspection, the technician told him that the mattress might be a bit soft, and if Mr. Leung preferred something with better body support, he might consider adding extra money to change for a firmer mattress. He also told Mr. Leung that the indent in the middle could be filled with certain padding material to restore its shape. The technician then reported the situation to Company B. Mr. Leung received an email from Company B afterwards saying that no quality or structural issues were found in the mattress due to production, and the company could not provide additional service or a replacement just to accommodate his own preference. Mr. Leung then lodged a complaint with the Council stating that the product was not worth the price he paid. He said Company B had a good reputation in the market promoting a “10-year warranty”. This, of course, also came with a hefty price tag. However, the mattress he bought had the sagging problem only after 2 years and the after-sales service was very disappointing. He asked Company B for a free repair.
Follow up actions
Company B reiterated that according to the terms and conditions of the warranty, free repair or replacement would only be provided if a mattress sagged with an indent of 1.5 inches or more. However, Mr. Leung´s mattress did not meet this condition. Moreover, no structural or production defect was detected. Following the Council´s conciliation, Company B agreed to either fill up the sagging part or replace the cotton layer of the mattress. But Mr. Leung would need to pay $3,000 for such service. Mr. Leung was not satisfied with this proposal, but did not ask the Council for further assistance.
Miss Lee bought a $3,700 single mattress from Company C for her new home. 2 weeks later, the mattress was delivered and when she opened the package, she noticed a pungent chemical smell. So, she placed the mattress in the living room and switched on the air purifier and dehumidifier in a bid to remove the odor. But it did not go away. Reluctantly, Miss Lee used the mattress for 2 days. Apart from the discomfort and headaches caused by the unpleasant smell, she also found that the middle part of the mattress had sagged. She then reported the problem to Company C, but was told bluntly that the smell was quite common, and that the company would arrange a technician to check the sagging issue.
After checking the mattress, Company C did find some defects with the springs and suggested a free replacement. Miss Lee was concerned that she might have the same issues again and thus asked to change to another model and paid for any price difference. Miss Lee went to Company C´s shop and picked another model for an additional cost of $3,000. However, she was told that this model would only be available after 3 months. Miss Lee could not wait for that long, but also didn’t want to use the existing one, so she asked for a refund. After some back-and-forth negotiation, Company C finally agreed to a refund, but she would need to wait for 2 to 3 months. Miss Lee found this arrangement unreasonable, so she contacted the Council, asking for help in getting a refund and removing the mattress.
Follow up actions
In its response to the Council, Company C said that they had already contacted Miss Lee and removed the mattress, and the refund was also being processed. The Council urged Company C to speed up the refund process.