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All that wood and crafty swindlers, beware

Buying furniture can be a tricky business especially if you do not know about problems that occur in wood and the clever ways in which those traders camouflage defects.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2009 00:08 IST

Buying furniture can be a tricky business especially if you do not know about problems that occur in wood and the clever ways in which those traders camouflage defects.

The most common bug that attacks wood is the borer. It eats away furniture from the inside but the problem is rarely visible from the outside.

Often buyers realise that they have been palmed off defective stuff months later after the purchase is made.

This is a query by one of the readers: I bought two beautifully carved chairs from a shop in Delhi. After some time, I noticed some white powder coming out of the wood. I do not know what it is. I asked the furniture shop to give me a replacement, but he is refusing to do so. What can I do? — C.P. Singh

Obviously, the chairs that you bought had already been infested with borer.

Like butterflies, these also have a life cycle and the larvae bore into the wood crevices and start eating it from inside.

They have a huge appetite and the powder that you see is actually the wood powder that falls as a result of their eating.

You have been sold a defective, sub-standard, insect-infested piece of furniture. The retailer may tell you that it is a minor problem and offer to have it treated, but do not agree because treating the wood infested by borer is difficult.

Spraying on the surface can only kill adults as they emerge out of the wood or newly hatched larvae as they attempt to enter the wood, but not the larvae that are in a protected site inside the wood.

Fumigation is the best method of controlling borers inside the wood, but that is expensive and not very practical.

In any case the furniture shop will not attempt that. So usually the treatment consists of identifying the infected spots from the falling wood dust and injecting insecticide into such spots using a syringe.

It's a laborious process and may need to be repeated to be effective. I don't see why you should accept such furniture.

If you think that you can trust the dealer again, then ask him for a replacement.

He has to bear the cost of transporting the replacement and collecting the defective ones.

Or else ask him (in writing) for a refund, plus the cost of transportation and any other expenses that you have incurred on it.

You can also inform him that you will be constrained to go to the consumer court if he does not respect your right to a defect-free product.

If he does not make amends, file a complaint before the consumer court, asking for refund as well as compensation for the harassment and the mental agony caused.

You can also ask for costs of litigation. I do hope you have a proper receipt.

Another reader also has a problem with the furniture that she bought.

She said the surface started peeling off just a couple of days of purchase and the shopkeeper is refusing to redress her complaint.

In the absence of a cash receipt, which she did not take to save on tax, she is unable to go to the consumer court.

The product is also not labelled and there is no other proof of purchase.

The best option here is to contact a consumer group or a residents' association in the locality and get them to put pressure on the retailer to have the goods replaced.

Do you have any problems? Send in your queries to

First Published: Nov 29, 2009 00:07 IST