Problem with Costco Leather Sofa

Problem with Costco Leather Sofa

Customer Question

About one year ago, I purchased a beautiful Amax leather sectional sofa at Costco that that is now showing "puddling" on the cushions in the favorite spots where I sit daily (I weigh less than 140 lbs., and the sofa has had little use otherwise.)

The specs state that "2.25 lbs. density high-resiliency foam encases pocket coil seat springs." It further states that each cushion is double-wrapped with hollow-fill fiber and down feathers for additional comfort and support.

The cushions do feel heavy I am disappointed that the cushions show these depressions and the leather looks wrinkled/stretched now in these areas. The manufacturer states these are premium seat cushions and only the best materials were used. Am I expecting too much?

Amax is generic furniture made in China. The purpose of the furniture is to provide a high end look at a budget cost.

Some of the shortcuts that are taken to cut costs include:

  • Top grain leather only on the seats, backs and inside arms. The rest of the upholstery is either a matching vinyl or "split grain" leather. (This is also known as "bottom grain," the rest of the hide that is left over after the top grain has been removed.) Amax uses both of these constructions for various models.
  • Usually, when only part of the seating uses top grain "corrected" leather, the remaining part is a matching vinyl. This is known as "leather match." 
    • Using "split grain" leather instead of vinyl allows the retailer to truthfully say that this is an "all-leather" sofa. 
    • The downside is that "split grain leather" is much less durable and stain resistant than either top grain leather or vinyl.
    • "Corrected leather" is a top grain hide that has been sanded down to remove all flaws (and natural grain patterns.) It is then dyed and embossed with an artificial grain to match the color and pattern of the matching vinyl. The embossed hide then receives a clear polyurethane coat that helps it resist minor scratches.
  • The frame is "kiln-dried solid wood." The important word that is missing here is "hardwood." Kiln-dried softwoods are less durable and more likely to warp over the long term than plywood or engineered woods that are usually used for lower cost furniture.

The reason I have gone through the quality issues above is that your "puddling" problem stems from the same low cost manufacturing approach.

  • Large cushions and curved cushions both require more time and skill to upholster properly than smaller seat cushions sized for a single person.
  • Leather requires more skill to upholster than fabric.

In this case, the puddling is probably the result of either an insufficient amount of fiber and feathers in the cushion padding or poor workmanship on the part of the low paid upholsterer who was rushing to make as many cushions as possible on a high speed assembly line. 

  • Often these workers are paid on a piecework basis (per cushion made) so that efficiency takes priority over quality.
  • Both problems may be present. 

Most retailers will not consider this a defect. They will  tell you it is "normal wear" which is not covered by warranty and will strongly resist accepting responsibility. 

If this was purchased at Costco they may take it back or give you replacement cushions. Costco has an unusually generous policy for returns and replacements. 

A local custom upholsterer (or reupholsterer) may be able to correct this problem for you, but the cost can be several hundred dollars. 

 Photo shown above is courtesy of RC Willey.




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