Wayfair Bans Customers From Doing This—And Now It's Being Sued Over It
The class action lawsuit claims that the company is trying to "maintain a monopoly."
Wayfair is one of the leading online home stores, selling a wide range of furniture and décor—all at competitive prices. You can browse for a new dresser online and have it delivered to your doorstep, without having to get up from the couch. And for an extra charge, you can even have a professional put it together for you. But no company is perfect, and store policies sometimes land retailers in the hot seat. Wayfair is just the latest retailer to come under fire as a result of something it prohibits customers from doing. Read on to find out why one restrictive Wayfair policy has led to a new lawsuit.
You want to keep your furniture protected.
Furniture is an investment, especially if you're purchasing big-ticket items like a couch or a bedroom set. With that in mind, you want your new décor to last and stay in good condition, which is why many shoppers opt to purchase a warranty. A warranty can be especially important if you have kids or pets, according to Mulberry—a browser extension that helps you find product protection—but you can opt for different types of coverage depending on your needs.
A standard manufacturer warranty is typically a year's worth of coverage, accounting for product defects or mistakes made during manufacturing, per Mulberry. You can also opt for an extended warranty, which will cover things like spills, tears or rips, chips, and other kinds of damage. These plans vary from company to company, meaning you'll want to do your research.
At Wayfair, you get the manufacturer warranty (the length of which can vary), as well as the option to add additional protection plans. However, customers allege that there are some flaws with this coverage, suggesting it might even violate federal law.
A new class action lawsuit has been filed.
Wayfair has been slapped with a lawsuit by plaintiff Annamarie Galante, who claims that the furniture company is in violation of anti-tying rules, Top Class Actions reported.
The lawsuit states that Wayfair's warranty policies are put in place to "maintain a monopoly on repairing the goods they sell," as the company doesn't allow customers to use third-party companies for repairs, lest their warranty be voided. It was filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Consumers are guaranteed "the right to obtain repairs from service providers other than Defendants," under the federal anti-tying law, which was established to keep the repair service market competitive, Top Class Actions reported, citing the class action suit. "Beyond unlawfully proscribing customers' federal consumer protection rights, Defendants' conduct further harms consumers by stifling the third-party repair industry," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Wayfair is also in violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which outlines requirements for consumer product warranties.
Wayfair has three different protection providers.
The lawsuit outlines an example where Galante purchased a Lark Manor rolling kitchen island with a warranty. However, the warranty leads customers "to believe that third-party repair will void the Warranty," as it states that it doesn't "apply to any product which has been improperly assembled, subjected to misuse or abuse or which has been altered or repaired in any way."
The class action suit doesn't name the protection provider in question, but according to Wayfair's FAQ section on protection plans, the company works with three different companies: Uniters (for mattresses), Warrantech (for electrical or mechanical failure), and Allstate (for rugs, indoor and outdoor furniture, and mattress protectors).
In the document outlining Allstate's terms and conditions, it states that "any repair, replacement or handling of the Product other than as recommended or authorized by the manufacturer and/or Us; or any failure to comply with the manufacturer's warranty" is not covered by the warranty plan. The document for Warrantech says that "adjustment, manipulation, modification, removal or unauthorized repairs of any internal component / part of a Covered Product performed by anyone other than Our authorized service" is also excluded.
Galante alleges the inability to seek out third-party services means that customers can't even have "simple, inexpensive repairs" performed out of fear that their warranty will be voided, and that Wayfair is trying to monopolize "after-market parts."
The lawsuit demands a jury trial.
The lawsuit goes on to allege Wayfair's policy "drives up the cost of repair" for customers, while also costing them valuable time. "Commonly, a warrantor's authorized service centers will have wait times that are untenable for devices that a consumer regularly relies on," the lawsuit reads.
Galante hopes the lawsuit will represent consumers in Pennsylvania who have purchased items under Wayfair's warranty program, demanding a trial by jury and "declaratory and injunctive relief along with an award of equitable relief for herself and all class members," Top Class Actions reported.
Best Life reached out to Wayfair for comment on the lawsuit, but has yet to hear back.