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Dodgy Hypnos Mattress - Help Required Please


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A friend of mine bought an ex-display Hypnos mattress from furniture company Levines last year in October. By the beginning of this year both my friend and her husband were suffering with their backs. The springs in the mattress were simply not doing their job and supporting their backs, in fact when lying on it, their backs are very low and their legs almost raised in comparison. Both are on the lighter side of the weight scale so it's not a size issue! They went back to the retailer in April / May this year and were told someone would come out to assess the mattress.

 

A representative did come out and was very surprised, as Hypnos mattresses are normally very good and are very rarely faulty. However this particular mattress was definitely faulty and he said as much. He also said that he would have to go back to the store and write a report and new mattress would be arranged and that they would be contacted within two days to arrange this.

 

Two days came and went and no contact was issued, and over the course of weeks my friends went back to the store several times to chase this up. On the third visit they were told that there was no such report. The manager of the store did call up the representative who had assessed the mattress. The rep (whose name my friends don't have unfortunately) was very vague and said initially that he couldn't recall coming out to their house, he then turned around and said that he didn't feel that their mattress had been faulty.

 

The store manager suggested another rep come out to assess the mattress, this one came over on July 28th and said that the mattress was fine. He said he needed the serial number off the mattress so just ripped the label off it to take with him!

 

The mattress was bought in October 2005 and my friend has had two extended periods of time off work, once in October 2005 and once in February 2006, these were due to back, shoulder and neck ache. She is now in pain on a daily basis. However when she spends the night elsewhere on a different bed her back is fine the next day. Her husband has also started to suffer with back pain and both of them have had to go to the doctors due to the severity of the pain.

 

Can anyone please advise what they should do next? They feel as though they have no recourse as they've been to the store and they have denied any problems.

 

Is it possible for them to involve trading standards and if so how do they go about doing it, or would a strongly worded letter to the retailer threatening legal action do the trick?

 

Please, please, can someone help, my friends are on a low income and can't just afford to throw away the mattress and buy a new one, and instead their health is now starting to suffer.

 

Thanks

Angie

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I'm very sorry to hear about your friends condition, wish her a quick recovery of her back problem from me!

 

First things first, Under the Sale Of Goods Act Ammended, all goods bought from someone selling in the course of a business must meet the following three points:

 

1) The Goods Must Be Of Satisfactory Quality:- This means the goods must last a reasonable amount of time and not be faulty, the court would take into account the price paid when coming to a decision on whether the item is of satisfactory quality.

2) The Goods Must Be Fit For The Purpose In Which They Were Bought:- This means that a kettle must boil water, and that a phone charger should be able to charge phones etc. So this mattress must be suitable for sleeping on, which if it causes back problems, it obviously isnt.

3) The Goods Must Be As Described:- This means that any description that was given to the matress in the shop must be true, this includes anthing the sales assistent said, e.g, if she shop worker said its a double bedded matress, it must be just that, not a single.

 

Write a letter to the shops head office, stating the fact you believe the goods do not comply with the Sale Of Goods Act Ammended, because they arent of Satisfactory Quality because...........

 

State what you want, e.g, an exchange, a repair etc. But you ARE NOT entitled to a refund because you have accepted the goods, but if they cant exchange or repair it, you may just be entitled to a refund.

 

I'll quickly draft a template letter below:

 

Company Name,

Head Office Address,

Town,

County,

Post Code.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

Iam writing to you in relation to an on going problem I am having with a faulty product I purchased from you.

On (date purchased) xx/xx/xxxx, I bought a xxxxxxxxxx from your branch in xxxxxx, since the purchase date I have realised that the product is inherently faulty.

The Sale Of Goods Act Ammended states that all goods must be of Satisfactory Quality, due to the fault in which I will outline below, I do not believe that the item complies with the above legislation.

The item has caused back problems to me ever since I purchased it, and I have evidence to prove the back problems resulted from your faulty product below: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (outline the reasons that you believe prove the back problems are from the fault matress)

I request that my goods are promptly exchanged or repaired so that I do not suffer any further inconvience.

Should you fail to furnish me with a positive reply within 14 days, I regret to inform you I shall be seeking to commence civil proceeding for Breach Of Implied Contract Terms.

I hope that such action will not be required.

I have included my name, address, telephone number and proof of purchase with this letter.

I await your prompt reply.

 

Yours Faithfully

 

xxxxxxxxx

 

Other users feel free to make positive contributions to the above template but i think that about sums it up.

 

If they dont respond to the above letter positivley within 14 days, come back and we'll sort you out with a "Letter Before Action".

 

Hope Ive Helped,

 

Regards, Tom3131.

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Just spoke to my friend and it would appear she has no proof of purchase...... She paid cash for the bed all in about £700 and can't locate the receipt. This will probably complicate it a bit won't it.

 

I imagine the fact that Levines have sent two reps out to look at it indicates they recognise the purchase. I suppose she'll have to somehow get them to send her a copy of the purchase invoice without alerting them as to why she needs it.......

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good idea, althoughif you and your friends could all sign a form validating the date of purchase then i doubt they'll start challenging it.....great idea about getting the invoice though;)

 

tom.

Before you take any legal action, please read through the

FAQ's, then if you dont understand something, please ask for advice ;) .

 

If theres a thread in which you think I could help, please PM me using the Private Messaging facility in the top right hand corner of the screen.

 

Advice & opinions of tom3131, The Consumer Action Group and The Bank Action Group are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Use your own judgment. Seek advice of a qualified insured professional if you ha

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  • 3 months later...

Hi All

 

This has been going on for ages but my friend finally got a response from the retailer last week. She sent them the suggested letter above posted by Tom. Their only response was to say that they had already assesed it twice and that they were unwilling to do anything further. If my friend wanted to take it further she would have to get an independant body to look at the mattress to assess it.

 

Would anyone out there know how to contact someone to go about doing this? Would the retailer then have to pay for this if the mattress was found to be faulty?

 

I appreciate all your help.

 

Thanks

Angie

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They've done fine so far with the letter as suggested. The proof of purchase issue could make things a bit trickier, although as you say they have clearly acknowledged it as their product. Did your friends get a copy of the invoice in the end?

 

Re. an independent report - you could try Qualitas who are a trade association for the furnishings industry.

 

Qualitas

 

Levines are not members unfortunately, so it will cost you more, but you could add this to your claim in the event it goes to the small claims court. Hopefully the judge would see that the report was necessary and if you are successful award this amount as costs.

 

(I say "you", I mean your friends, but I guess you know that!)

Please note I'm not insured in this capacity, so if you need to, do get official legal advice.

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Thanks for that Rosie, I did try to get the invoice on their behalf but the details I gave Levines came up with wardrobes having been purchased and not the bed! Didn't want to push the issue in case they became suspicious.

 

I've looked at the site you've mentioned and it is definitely useful. However the fee of £250 they charge for their inspection will be too much for my friend to afford.

 

They may just have to cut their losses and buy a new one.

 

But once again thanks for your help, it's appreciated.

 

Angie

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  • 4 years later...

I know this is a very old thread, but this may help anyone else in a similar situation.

 

I actually spoke to someone the other day from 'The Sleep Council', when they contacted me about a new web site that I have just launched. I told them that I was very concerned about the growing trend for so called independent inspectors to always find in favour of the retailer. And as the sleep council are part of 'The National Bed Federation' then they said that they would look into it with their members.

 

Anyway the furniture industry ombudsman is FIRA:

 

FIRA International Ltd

Maxwell Road

Stevenage

Hertfordshire

SG1 2EW

UK t: +44 (0)1438 777700

f: +44 (0)1438 777800

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qualitas is the same outfit as the furniture ombudsman. all part of fira, a trade association.

 

I'm in the trade but I've never heard of them being called that before. But you are right, thanks for sharing that.

 

FIRA aren't so much a trade association. They are the Furniture Industry Research Association. In other words they are the people who do all those destructive tests on furniture that Ikea try to convince us in their adverts that they are the only people to carry them out.

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They are just like satra, but perhaps not as big. It's a membership club. You pay to join, they do their thing. They lobby for the industry, provide info and stuff. I think trade association as a label fits.

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They are just like satra, but perhaps not as big. It's a membership club. You pay to join, they do their thing. They lobby for the industry, provide info and stuff. I think trade association as a label fits.

 

They specialise in the furniture industry, but are a research organisation. Don't confuse them with the NFB, which is a membership club for the industry.

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Not sure I agree. it seems like spin to me.

 

http://www.fira.co.uk/membership

 

Then there is this:

 

http://welcome.fira.co.uk/service-technicians

 

'9 out of ten products kept in the home'? 'fewer returns'?Seem ropey to me. Certainly on the side of business it would seem. It also seems a bit odd that they offer this service. But its ok, because if you complain, then you can send a complaint to the furniture ombudsman, which is also part of the same club.

 

They might be genuine, but the evidence suggests it is a club and by every definition you can look at, they are a trade association.

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Not sure I agree. it seems like spin to me.

 

 

Then there is this:

 

 

'9 out of ten products kept in the home'? 'fewer returns'?Seem ropey to me. Certainly on the side of business it would seem. It also seems a bit odd that they offer this service. But its ok, because if you complain, then you can send a complaint to the furniture ombudsman, which is also part of the same club.

 

They might be genuine, but the evidence suggests it is a club and by every definition you can look at, they are a trade association.

 

You really need to get your facts right before you start arguing about something.

 

FIRA is not a trade association, it is as the name states the Furniture Industry Research Association. They do research and development for the furniture industry, they do fire, safety and endurance tests on furniture (as they do for Which Magazine), they provide consultancy services, and they provide an inspection service. And as they are independent they also provide an ombudsman service for the furniture industry. FIRA are a business who provide services to the furniture industry, they are are not a trade association.

 

NBF or National Bed Federation however are a trade association who are funded by a percentage of the turnover of it's members. The NBF will promote the bed industry, and even give out what is supposed to be independent advice (Ha Ha), through The Sleep Council, who are part of NBF. The trouble is that the NBF and the sleep council will never say anything against their members, their products, their gimmicks, or their sales tactics, because they are funded by them.

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I think you need to get your facts straight. FIRA is a ltd company, that is funded by memberships. The Furniture Industry Research Association as it was (and as was established by the govt years ago) was sold out to private individuals years and years ago. They do outsourced customer services, and carry out paid for projects for industry. They lobby for the industry. They do do testing, but I'd wager it isn't a huge part of what they do these days as a percentage of turnover. They are part of a larger group of companies that sell consultancy services. None of this persuades me that they are actually independent, far from it. If they are reliant on businesses paying them for call centre services and 'consultancy' projects then they are hardly likely to side with me against someone that is paying them thousands of pounds, are they? I also think it is odd that an 'ombudsman' service would appear to be part of a profit making ltd company.

 

The trouble is that 'an organisation' will never say anything against their members, their products, their gimmicks, or their sales tactics, because they are funded by them. Sounds worrying. Sounds like a description of FIRA. A google doesn't show me any cases where they are sticking up for the little man against the likes of B&Q or Moben.

 

I ask you - Moben? Really? Just looking at the list of their members seems to paint quite a clear picture...

 

As for the name - anyone can call a company anything it wants. It doesn't mean anything. They'd love you to think that they are not a trade association, but really, looking at what they actually do, they are either a straight profit making company, or a trade association. Either way, as I posted above, it all seems odd to me and clearly on the side of business, not us customers.

 

If you feel they are not a trade association, could you define what you think a trade is and does?

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I think you need to get your facts straight. FIRA is a ltd company, that is funded by memberships. The Furniture Industry Research Association as it was (and as was established by the govt years ago) was sold out to private individuals years and years ago. They do outsourced customer services, and carry out paid for projects for industry.

 

Most of that is what I just said

 

 

They lobby for the industry.

 

Any company in the furniture industry would lobby for the industry

 

They do do testing, but I'd wager it isn't a huge part of what they do these days as a percentage of turnover.

 

Maybe you should visit their site in Stevenage if that's what you think.

 

 

They are part of a larger group of companies that sell consultancy services. None of this persuades me that they are actually independent, far from it. If they are reliant on businesses paying them for call centre services and 'consultancy' projects then they are hardly likely to side with me against someone that is paying them thousands of pounds, are they? I also think it is odd that an 'ombudsman' service would appear to be part of a profit making ltd company.

 

Are you arguing against yourself now??? Because I'm really not sure what point you are trying to make, except for maybe just having an argument.

 

I've already said that FIRA is a business who's line of business is to provide services for the furniture industry. Just like 1000's of other companies provide various services to various business sectors. That doesn't make them a trade association, it makes them a business.

 

As for the name - anyone can call a company anything it wants. It doesn't mean anything. They'd love you to think that they are not a trade association, but really, looking at what they actually do, they are either a straight profit making company, or a trade association. Either way, as I posted above, it all seems odd to me and clearly on the side of business, not us customers.

 

As I said from the start, they are a company that makes a profit, not a trade association.

 

 

If you feel they are not a trade association, could you define what you think a trade is and does?

 

A trade is a line of business.

A trade association is a group of members in the same trade who work together as a group.

 

 

Maybe you should try and tell my friend who lives a few doors away from me, and who works for FIRA, that he doesn't know who he works for.

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"The Furniture Industry Research Association was established over 60 years ago by the furniture industry for the industry. "

 

"Furniture testing remains a core part of FIRA's business" which implies it isn't the main bit of their business.

 

'The Furniture Industry Research Association is a truly unique, not for profit organisation that represents the whole of the UK furniture industry.'

 

Seems very trade association-y to me.

 

What would visiting the company tell me that the accounts won't? I'd wager if I went there I'd see lots of space given over to testing equipment and maybe a third or half given over to offices, or call centre type stuff. It wouldn't show me where they get most of their money from, just what they use their space for. I could turn my living room into a server farm, it won't make me an IT geek.

 

Most trade associations I know of are ltd companies that sell membership packages for a set of benefits or advice. Seems to fit FIRA.

 

As for the argument - you appear to be saying that they are not a trade association. I think that they appear to be a trade association.

Yo have stated that they 'are a research organisation' I don't think that this is the case.

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"tim deegan"?

 

Why do I need to work in/for either of the above to pass an opinion on what something looks like? I freely admit that it is my opinion, I've not suggested otherwise.

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"tim deegan"?

 

Why do I need to work in/for either of the above to pass an opinion on what something looks like? I freely admit that it is my opinion, I've not suggested otherwise.

 

So why would you argue so stongly about something that is just your opinion???

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because you misrepresenting what the organisation is, are not providing substance to back up your opinion, are representing your opinion as incontrovertible fact, and are from the furniture industry so appear to be bias.

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because you misrepresenting what the organisation is, are not providing substance to back up your opinion, are representing your opinion as incontrovertible fact, and are from the furniture industry so appear to be bias.

 

I have no connections with FIRA (apart from the fact that I have a friend who works there). And I have no bias towards them in any way. In fact when The Sleep Council called me the other day, wating to work together on my new mattress advice web site www.mattressadvice.co.uk , I actually complained to them about the way FIRA run their inspection service. The reason I complained to The Sleep Council is because they are part of NBF, who will obviously work quite closely with FIRA.

 

The Reason I was complaining about the FIRA inspection service is because there have been a huge number of reports of so called independent inspectors finding in favor of the big retailers who paid for their services. And this has happened when it is quite clear that a mattress is faulty. Now you would expect a few dodgy inspection companies to do this, but I have heard of a growing number of cases where FIRA inspectors have done the same. This is in my opinion very poor when you consider that they run the furniture industry ombudsman service.

 

So as you can see I have no bias towards them, but as I am in the industry I do know what they are all about.

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Fair comment, and such comments seem to support the statements made on the website - that they exist to support and promote the industry, not consumers. I suspect that it is not that fira pay for the services of the inspectors, but that fira is dependent on business from the same businesses that are being inspected.

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Pls keep it respectful to other members guys, this is a flame free zone :-)

 

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