Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
When you've paid a lot of money for something that turns out to be not worth a lot of money, you likely complain.
Sometimes, the store will react well. Occasionally, though, you'll be sent away because you didn't read the terms and conditions or the guarantee ran out, oh, two days ago.
Then we come to the curious case of the Peggy Sofa Collection sold by West Elm.
These sofas cost $1,200 but seemed to have been constructed by schoolchildren from bits of old plywood and buttons from a knitting class.
At least that's if you believe an excoriation published on The Awl and written by Anna Hezel.
It was entitled: "Why Does This One Couch From West Elm Suck So Much?"
And suck it did.
The buttons came off. The cushions would slide off. And then the leg fell off.
This last joy occurred during a New Year's Eve party.
"Twelve minutes before midnight, as a roomful of 20 or so people pounded cheap champagne and listened to the Weeknd, there was a loud crash, and the whole apartment shook," Hezel wrote. "I ran out of the kitchen and into the living room. The couch had collapsed on the floor, surrounded by startled guests who were miraculously unharmed. A leg had snapped off, and the whole thing had toppled over."
Now that sounds like a party.
The New Year seems to have brought new information. Hezel discovered she wasn't alone. Quite a few other people had already torn out their hair and ululated to the distant planets because of this sofa.
They had posted to Yelp. They had yelped to statues of deities. They had Instagrammed their pain. Yet it took Hezel's fine writing to get West Elm to act.
She wrote wittily of her own sofa-so-awful situation.
She also added many of the reviews she'd found that supported her own contention that this sofa was a monstrous insult to the furniture makers of the world.
In a follow-up article, Hezel said she noticed that the Peggy sofa collection had been removed from West Elm's website.
She asked the store why. She was told that it was her feedback and that of others that had inspired this lurch toward good sense.
Then she said another West Elm operative called her and said that the store was now offering "a full refund or replacement of orders placed in the U.S. and Canada after July 2014."
Free sofas. Or your money back.
Of course, it's healthy that the store took action. It seems odd, though, that it didn't do it sooner. Had the word simply not got around? It seems as if it had. West Elm had been sending repair kits to customers who complained about the buttons. Ah. Oh.
I contacted West Elm and will update, should the store send me words couched in an explanation.
The lesson is quite simple. Yelping isn't enough. You have to make sure the seller knows how unhappy you are, especially if you've paid $1,200. Clearly, it helps if you have a platform and can write winningly.
As for the store, you can never act too soon before accepting that you've been peddling substandard goods. This thing was clearly past its tolerance date.
Yes, some customers can be whiny, entitled, offensive tripe-talkers. Sometimes, though, the realities are incontrovertible.
A legless person at a New Year's Party might be acceptable. A legless sofa most certainly isn't.