What the heck is bonded leather – 2015 edition – Bob’s Discount Furniture is still at it.

bonded leather sofa  Isn’t it pretty?

I continue to see retailers like Bob’s Discount Furniture advertise and sell furniture made out of something called “bonded leather”.

I’ve written about this before. What’s new?  Reputable furniture sellers are now refusing to sell furniture made of “bonded leather” because so many customers have complained (and filed law suits) regarding bonded leather.

If you want to save money, and don’t care that your “leather” furniture will peel and flake like it has a sunburn within months of purchasing it, then by all means, run down to Bob’s Discount Furniture and have at it.

If you actually want something of better quality, something that will last, something you can be proud of – go somewhere else, and then ask a lot of questions.

If you already purchased your “leather” furniture from Bob’s or anywhere else, here’s an easy way to know whether or not you got real leather.

Do you find your leather furniture makes you sweat and stick to the furniture?  If so, it’s not real leather.  Real leather breathes.  It’s an organic product.  It won’t make you sweaty or sticky any more than a fabric sofa.  Don’t confuse this with automobile leather.  Automotive grade leather is often coated to withstand extreme cold and heat.  You can’t compare a car with leather upholstery sitting in the sun for hours where the interior can climb to 140 degrees F, to the leather on your sofa. However, you may notice now, that higher end vehicles come with leather that is perforated or mechanically cooled with fans inside the seats.

Bonded Leather shouldn’t even have the word leather in the name.  It is reconstituted hide scraps mixed with several other things – some recognizable, some not so much.  It is made in a similar fashion as paper – pulverized wood shavings, with other additives, are mashed together in a big blender and then extruded into sheets.  With bonded leather, it’s leftover leather waste products from actual tanned leather that is dried, then pulverized, then mixed with paper bits, cardboard, and any number of other things they find.  It is then extruded into long sheets that have a fiber or paper backing.  Industry standards vary by country.  For example in the U.S.A, bonded leather must contain 60% “leather fibers” (that doesn’t mean actual tanned leather).  In Europe the standards are higher with the requirement of 50% (wet or dry measure) of actual leather.  But in places like Asia requirements for use of the term Bonded Leather only require that as low as 20% of the pulp extrusion be leather fibers and/or leather products.  Much of the furniture sold in the United States at discount furniture establishments, and stored like Walmart, Ikea, etc. comes from China.

Bonded leather is leather like a hot dog is a prime cut of beef.

Recipe for Bonded Leather:

– Take 20% of leftover leather shavings that you purchase in bulk from a tannery,
– Add recycled paper products, cardboard, cut-up foam from yoga mats, rat droppings from the factory floor (anything really, because – there is no regulation).
– Put it all in a very large blender, on high, until silky smooth smooth.
– Pour that “slurry” onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at a very low temperature – maybe just keep it on “warm” – until it is dried out completely. Don’t forget to spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray (or any petroleum product you have lying around).
– When dry, peel it off the cookie sheet carefully and wrap it around a particle board frame.
– Sell it to Bob’s Discount Furniture as a “Bonded Leather Sofa”.  It’s completely legal.

To make it even easier you can simply pour the slurry into a “sofa mold” – similar to pouring Jello into a Bundt cake pan.  It take a little longer to dry (cure), but all you have to do it cut the mold away when you’re done.

If you don’t believe me about all of this.  Here is a video of how they make bonded leather:

And here is a video of how one company makes real leather:

Working with leather is an art-form that has been around for thousands of years.  Retailers like Bob’s Discount Furniture in New England (mostly) proudly sell furniture made of bonded leather, yet few consumers know about bonded leather.  They are too embarrassed to ask, thinking they should already know what it is.  And since it has the word “leather” in it, that’s good, right?  Bonded Leather is not real leather.  It’s a word gimmick.  It is the cheapest of cheap materials and it was invented because of what else? Greed – misrepresenting what a product is in order to sell huge amounts of it at cheap prices.

By the way, I just purchased a sofa, online, from a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina.  I was able to select my leather from the many, many swatches they sent me prior to my final purchase.  It’s a beautiful sofa and I spent about $500 more for it than I would have for bonded leather at the local furniture store.   The difference is, for $500 more I get a sofa I will have for 20 years, instead of 3 years.


Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning, Wells, Maine – Review


It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on my blog but I feel so strongly about this that I simply had to warn people.

If you don’t feel like reading this entire posting, the bottom line is, in my opinion, DO NOT HIRE BEN OLIVER FROM LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS CLEANING IN WELLS, MAINE

If you search online for Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning service in Wells, ME, you won’t find much, if any, information. No web site for this company exists, no HomeAdvisor.com listing, and I could find no listing, even on generic indexes of business through various services like the online Yellow Pages.  I assumed this was a small business with not much of an online presence.  I should have seen a red flag. But I was in a hurry and made a rushed decision.

Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning, or specifically its owner, Ben Oliver of Wells, ME, was recommended to me by the person who cleans my carpets.  I found my carpet cleaner through Home Advisor.  He was excellent, professional, friendly, and stood behind his work.  He’s great at what he does and I will use him again.  I gave him high marks on HomeAdvisor.com where I found his company.  I don’t want to name his company here so it doesn’t get mixed up with this review. But, I trusted his judgment and recommendation.

I first met Ben Oliver when we scheduled a meeting at my apartment so I could get an estimate.  He seemed friendly, actually overly friendly, but nice enough.  When he entered my apartment he immediately started evaluating my “stuff” (my belongings), not the job itself.

I am a smoker and after 15 years of living here, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get everything cleaned perfectly. The landlord won’t repaint, so I was considering paying for it myself.  But to do that, everything needed to be cleaned including the walls and ceiling.  Ben Oliver assured me that he would talk care of that.  I was told that his company always starts a new customer with a “big cleaning”; which meant everything from top to bottom including walls, ceiling, baseboards, behind the fridge, etc.  He wanted to charge me $200 for this cleaning.  I asked if he could come down at all on that and we agreed on $175.  I thought, for that, it was worth it.

We scheduled it for a few days later.  I gave him my house keys during the first meeting because I intended to use him on a regular basis, once a month, after the “big cleaning”.  On the morning he was to arrive, I left a check for $175.00

When I got home that day, at first glance the place appeared to look good.  The first thing I noticed was a broken light bulb, still in its socket, in the bathroom.  I wasn’t too upset by that but thought it was odd he didn’t tell me.  When he was there giving the estimate we talked about previous cleaners I had used and how they had broken things and never told me.  I assured him that if something were to happen, it’s not that big of a deal, just tell me and if its something of value, we’ll work it out in some way.  He agreed.

The next thing I noticed was some white powdery stuff (it looked like comet cleanser) in front of my fridge.  I got out the all purpose cleaner and a paper tower to wipe it up.  But when I wiped it up, the paper towel came up completely BLACK.  i sprayed a little more Fantastik farther away from the original spot and the same thing happened; completely Black. I took a picture where I re-sprayed the original spot a second time.


So this is after I cleaned it once.  I should have taken a pic of the first one but didn’t think about the bigger problem until I had already thrown the first one away and took out the garbage. But this is what it looked like AFTER I cleaned the spot.  And as I cleaned further, it just got worse.

This is a picture of my range hood where he used BLEACH!  Can you see the white discoloration and permanent drip mark?


And this is a picture of the space between my fridge and the wall where some plastic molding from my fridge is wedged in there and I can’t get it out.. I don’t even know where it belongs.

fridge part

The Walls and Ceiling were NEVER cleaned.

When I called Ben Oliver of Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning, he acted like he didn’t know who I was.  How may people with my name did he have as a customer?  on that day?  When I started explaining the first issue of the kitchen floor, his response was “To be honest, your whole house was black”.  First, that’s insulting.  Second, it’s unprofessional. Third, we had already talked about smoke damage issues, and the linoleum flooring in my kitchen is something I’ve cleaned myself in the past and it’s never been black.  After a long day of work, I wasn’t in the mood to have some argument with him.  In my opinion, he was more concerned about being “right” than about the job he had done that was substandard  at best.  His response should have been “I’m so sorry, let me come back and take a look at it and fix it” to keep his customer happy and stand behind his work.  At the very least he should have agreed to come and look at it.

But in my opinion his personality, and ego, prevented him from being professional. It seemed that in his mind, he is right, he’s always right, and how dare I question him.

So I wrote an email to him about the issue.  I explained my concerns and gave him every opportunity to make good on is cleaning job.

He never responded to the email. I sent him a text asking if he’d read the email.  His text response was that he hadn’t received it and if I wanted to contact him I should do it between business hours Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

At that point, I was done trying to rectify the situation.  I sent him a text asking for my keys back.  I work in the town where he lives. So I asked him to drop off my keys at my office with the receptionist.  It wasn’t far out of his way and I was scheduled to be off that next day anyway; I didn’t want a run-in with him.  But as it turn out I did have to go into work that next day.

At one point during that day, I heard front door to our office slam and the owner of the company for whom I work came into my office with my house keys dangling in her hand and said “Some guy just dropped these off for you and said to tell you to never call him again!”.  She sort of stared at me funny.  My mouth dropped.  I was mortified.  To walk into a place of business, as a business owner himself, and make a scene over a set of keys, is reprehensible behavior.  It was none of anyone’s business but he made it personal.

The bottom line here is DON’T HIRE Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning in Wells, Maine.  From my experience, you will be overcharged for shoddy work, and he won’t take any responsibility for work that wasn’t done or for work done poorly.  He is unprofessional, and while I try very hard not to judge people based their personality, or who they are, or aren’t, in this case, all of those issues play and were a big part in how all of this went down.   Additionally, there are things missing from my house that I can’t explain or prove. I never even got into that with him.  I’m not a lawyer and can’t accuse without proof, and just wanted it all out of my life.

As I said at the start, I don’t post to my blog very often these days.  However, this situation warranted some action on my part.  I couldn’t find any reviews of him or his company, so somebody needed to speak up.  I wish I had some sort of review to go on; instead I took the word of someone I trusted.  I believe that Lighthouse Keepers Cleaning can’t be found online because he doesn’t want a place online for anyone to review him.