Devalued rugs?
May 18, 2007 12:21 AM   Subscribe

My oriental rugs were scotch guarded without my consent. Exactly what damage has been made and what can I do about it?

3M's website only says not to do it. I had them picked up to be cleaned about six weeks ago, along with having my wall-to-wall cleaned and paid the bill in full (I know, BIG MISTAKE). The next morning I discovered that one of the people who had been in my place had broken my toilet. When he came back to fix it, he was speaking with someone at the company on his cell phone and asked if I wanted "plastic protection" on my carpets. I said no. There was some discussion with the person at the other end and I heard him say something to the effect of "she's happy with what she wants and doesn't want the plastic". I wasn't able to get the rugs delivered until today and found that they had put on the scotch guard and wanted me to pay for it (I've left a message with my lawyer), claiming they'd "done me a favor". I wanted to return one of the rugs to the place from where I bought it and replace it with a smaller one, but because of what these assholes did I don't think I can do this now. I have homeowners insurance, but given that the orientals were not cleaned in my place, I don't think they'll cover it. I'm in New York.
posted by brujita to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call your insurance agent, but your homeowners may still cover the loss because they were part of your personal property that belongs in your home -- there is a rider for that somewhere in your policy.
posted by SpecialK at 12:32 AM on May 18, 2007

Well, I guess first thing first -- is there any really hard evidence that the Scotchguarding has done anything to the rugs? Like, can you tell? Can anyone? Aside from the 3M website saying "don't do it," which might or might not just be them doing the usual corporate CMA ... does it really matter either way?

Supposing you took it back to the store to exchange, would they immediately know somehow?

This place offers Scotchguard while cleaning oriental rugs, so it does seem as though there are people out there that do it, even if it's not manufacturer recommended. (The problem noted seem to mostly be dye-related, so if the dyes didn't change, maybe you got lucky and have a rug that doesn't care?)

Anyway, before you drag out the lawyers, I'd just really consider (maybe bring in someone who's an expert on oriental rugs / rug cleaning, but unaffiliated either with the store you bought them from or the cleaning company you used) taking a realistic assessment of what the actual physical damage was as a result of this.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:03 AM on May 18, 2007

There is a school of thought that ScothGuard emits harmful gasses. I think your insurance company will laugh at you if you submit a claim like this though. They will think you got a benefit, and that you suffered no loss, surely not one that they will pay for.

Other than the poison vapor thing, of which I am skeptical, I doubt your rug is damaged. Anyway, I would go with your lawyer's advice here.
posted by caddis at 4:39 AM on May 18, 2007

Caddis: Scotchguard changed their formula a few years ago when evidence surfaced that it contained bioaccumulative chemicals that were potentially toxic. I haven't heard of problems with the new stuff.
posted by alms at 5:31 AM on May 18, 2007

Response by poster: Kadin2048:

1. There doesn't seem to be any change in the color, but does seem to be in the texture. This doesn't really matter for the ones I want to keep.

2. I don't know; If I can tell a difference, most likely a professional could.

3. The legal issue is mostly about money; I refuse to pay $10k+ for something I made crystal clear that I did not want.
posted by brujita at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2007

Well, there is no fucking way you should pay for a service you didn't want. I mean, what if you had declined the extra service because you couldn't afford it? You already paid in full for the services you requested, so if they took it upon themselves to "do you a favor" then it's their responsibility to do you the extra "favor" and eat the cost.

If they're unhappy with it, then tell them they're welcome to take the Scotchguard back. You should also report them to the BBB for trying to force you into paying for a service you explicitly did not request. That's so shady that it's not even funny.
posted by tastybrains at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2007

I kind of doubt a store would have accepted a return that had been to the cleaners, scotch-guarded or not. If their return policy is that relaxed, maybe they won't care about the scotch guarding.
posted by teg at 9:50 AM on May 18, 2007

Response by poster: Scotch guard is a coating that can't be removed.

This is a 40 year old Oriental rug, which is considered a valuable. The place from where I bought it sells others like it. If they wouldn't take it back there would have been other places willing to buy it--I don't know if any will now.
posted by brujita at 11:19 AM on May 18, 2007

From the ScotchGuard website:
Q: Can I use this product for oriental rugs?

A: We do not recommend this product for use on oriental rugs. We have found the variability between manufacturers and the occasional use of food dyes can produce unusual and unpredictable results.
So it seems the main problem is that it might cause bleeding or color changes with some rugs. However, if it did not then I am not sure what the problem would be. Did it produce "unpredictable results" on your rug? Did it change the appearance of the rug at all? If not, then you may very well be able to return it or sell it somewhere else. If it fetches a lower price then your damages are the difference, plus whatever else your lawyer might be able to think of. You are operating on the assumption that the rug is permanently damaged. You should check the validity of that assumption before you invest too much time and money in fighting with the rug cleaners.
posted by caddis at 12:34 PM on May 18, 2007

I think part of the issue is what is an Oriental Rug?

Are we talking a $40,000 silk rug? Something that has value as a collectible and that has now been permanently damaged by a change in the finish?

Or are we talking about an oriental-type rug that someone bought at Sears in the sixties?

In the first case I certainly understand calling a lawyer. Actually, call an appraiser first who can give a professional opinion on the damage (in financial terms). Then call a lawyer.

In the second... I suggest you breathe deeply. Then go for a walk in the sunshine.
posted by kika at 12:48 PM on May 18, 2007

Response by poster: The rug I want to return/sell is a 24'x13'9" handmade Oriental wool rug listed for sale at $60+K four years ago; the others are newer, but also handmade wool--two Orientals, a Tibetan which I had made to order and two food-themed ordered from Frontgate. I do plan to get them appraised.

This would not be an issue if they had been machine-made broadloom....I have had several other hassles with my place since I bought it four years ago (which still have yet to be resolved) and I did not need this crap added to it.
posted by brujita at 11:48 PM on May 18, 2007

Do some research and define the dollar cost of your loss. It may be possible to file in small claims court.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 PM on May 19, 2007

Response by poster: Update:
I called an appraiser who told me he could not inspect for damage and suggested I call another dealer.
I had another rug cleaning company(connected with one of the top rug dealers in NYC) inspect the largest rug. I have just been told that it was something other than Scotch Guard which was used on the carpet; whatever it was DID cause damage on the edges where the fringe is attached to the wool which will cost $800 to repair. The Tibetan was inspected by another company--recommended by the one who sold it to me, I had also wanted the rug made smaller-- which reported no damage, but it does not have fringe. For some reason, the woman at the first company did not want to inspect the other two fringed Orientals, but they will be picked up tomorrow to be checked.
posted by brujita at 9:14 AM on June 27, 2007

Response by poster: Also, I found the mamzerim who damaged my rug(s) through Citysearch, where they had been given the top rating. When I put up my negative review, it was taken down because they refuse to allow posts about damaged property. WTF?!!!!!
posted by brujita at 9:26 AM on June 27, 2007

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