A Sofa Story

Life is full of tragedies. We have had plenty around here this week. So here is a story with a better ending.

Do you know that getting a Prius “smart key” fob replacement costs between $250 (local locksmith) and $500 (Prius dealer)? A “smart key” is the kind of key that you just need to have in your pocket or purse to work the car. There is no ignition switch to turn, you just boop the “on” button and the car starts to go.

Did you know that Drew lost his Prius “smart key” this spring? We looked everywhere, including under all the seat cushions, and finally came to the conclusion that it must have dropped out of his pocket when climbing out of the truck or something. We had a trip to the local locksmith on the calendar, and we were hoping that he knew what he was doing, because the car’s software must be tweaked to make it “recognize” a new key (and hopefully not also to command it to heat the batteries to one thousand kelvin or something). We knew the dealer was a safe bet, but Curly’s Lock & Key? A bit of a wager. 

But that was later this week. First, we had to continue our battle with Shleifer Furniture, who had sold us a bum couch.

About a year and a half ago, we ordered a custom sofa and love seat from Shleifer Furniture in Portland. After two months, we received a love seat with the right cushions, right pillows, and right color wood trim, and a sofa with the wrong cushions, the wrong pillows, and wrong color wood trim. Drew called and gave them a piece of my mind. Two more months later, they replaced the sofa. The cushions, pillows, and wood trim was right, but it felt wrong. Looser, like it had already been sat on by some water buffaloes or something. But I was tired of making Drew call for me, and I didn’t even know what I was going to say. (“My wife says it feels....icky.”)

So we have been living with it. But lately we have just been avoiding it. 

So I did what any self-respecting shut-in would do. I looked for an answer on YouTube, and found several DIY videos explaining how to fix loose couch springs. Some involved backyards and rope, but some methods seemed more reputable. 

So I did what any self-respecting DIY-er would do - I plunged into something with very little knowledge and fewer tools. I took the backing off the bottom of the sofa, ready to put my new YouTube upholstery diploma to work. 

No amount of YouTube education was equal to the total failure of sofa-building technology I found. The panel (technical term “board”) that was supposed to anchor the springs had completely caved in, not surprisingly, as it was so poorly nailed into place. Without that anchor, everything had pulled away from its moorings. One spring had boinged completely free and all the others were so loosened that the sofa was merely a hole covered by two expensive cushions.

No problem. We were pretty sure we remembered somebody saying something about a lifetime warranty. We would just call the furniture company. Drew got back on the phone, because I had more pieces of mind to relay to them. 

It turns out that a lifetime warranty is only good for one year, which had passed in January. After that, it’s a lifetime warranty on the materials only, which, if you think about what goes into a sofa, is some wood, foam and springs. A couple-a bucks. A year and a half in and we have a wood box with cushions on top. 

Drew got back on the phone and gave them more pieces of my mind. Drew has spent the last six months at work battling the city budget police for every dollar he can find to build two new fire stations to replace stations so full of cancer-causing radon gas and dry rot that they would have been condemned to the public ten years ago, so I might have felt sorry for the warranty associate at Shleifer except that we had a small landfill in the shape of a sofa in our living room. 

After the warranty associate recovered, she offered a truce: she would send out a repair person, and between Shleifer and the sales rep for the furniture maker, they would pay the first $150 of repair costs. We would have to cover whatever remained of the repair bill. The way the sofa looked, that could have been as much as the thing cost. But we had a sofa-shaped butt trap, so we figured we had to at least pursue this option. We scheduled the repair guy for this morning.

Drew took the morning off in case he had to lay down some more whoop-ass. Turns out, the repair guy was nice, worked all morning, did some major sofa rebuilding, and charged $250, so we were out $100 for a usable sofa. 

When the repair guy was done, he ambled into the kitchen with something in his hand. Oh, by the way, he said, something fell out when I turned the couch over. 

Drew’s missing Prius “smart key.” 

I’m assuming I don’t have to do the math for you now. It’s one of those times where, if you didn’t know friends who were grieving lost loved ones, you would say that old chestnut, everything happens for a reason. But at its most elemental, it’s a wacky and happy coincidence. And this week I’ll take it.