California Department of Consumer Affairs Revokes License of Italian Furniture Maker
Upholstered Products Failed to Meet State Fire-Safety, Other Standards
The California Department of Consumer Affairs' Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation has revoked the license of Italian upholstered furniture manufacturer Bardi SRL after tests showed the company's products didn't measure up to state consumer-protection standards.
The action effective July 30, 2003, means Bardi cannot legally sell upholstered furniture to California consumers. A Bureau investigation and testing of a dinette chair, loveseat and leather chairs obtained from California retailers revealed the Bardi upholstered furniture failed flammability tests and was improperly labeled.
The Pistoia, Italy, company also failed to respond to the Bureau's requests for corrective action, including orders to withhold products from sale and a request to identify California importers, wholesalers and retailers of the products.
Lynn Morris, Chief of the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BHFTI), said the action against Bardi is intended to protect Californians.
"These products are a potential hazard to California consumers," said Morris. "For more than a quarter century, the state has required upholstered furniture to resist catching fire from cigarettes or open flames, and that the products are properly labeled for consumers."
"Not only do substandard products fall short in fire safety, but their sale is unfair to the thousands of law-abiding manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers who make it their business to sell safer, properly labeled merchandise."
Bardi failed to respond to the Bureau's formal Accusation of state law violations through the state's administrative law process, so a decision revoking its California furniture manufacturer's license moved forward by default. Bardi was also ordered to pay approximately $1,800 for state investigative costs.
All importers and wholesalers offering upholstered furniture for sale in California are advised that a Statewide Withhold From Sale Order was issued August 28, 2001, that prohibited the sale of upholstered furniture manufactured by Bardi SRL in the State of California. California law requires that importers, wholesalers and retailers -- or any person having in his or her possession any article of upholstered furniture or bedding, or filling materials with the intent to resell - must also comply with a Statewide Withhold From Sale Order against a manufacturer. The sale in California of any upholstered furniture manufactured by Bardi SRL is prohibited and such products are subject to seizure by the Bureau.
The Bureau first licensed Bardi in June, 2000. The license expired in September 2002. The Bureau licenses 4,358 importers and manufacturers of bedding and upholstered furniture, with 1,647 of these located outside the United States.
In addition to the recent Bardi license revocation, the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation has taken other enforcement actions to protect California consumers from substandard products.
As of August 2003, the Bureau has issued 20 citations against upholstered furniture and mattress manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, suppliers or retailers. The infractions include improper labeling, failure to meet flammability standards and failure to be licensed. Also, the Bureau has issued 20 Statewide Withhold From Sale orders in 2003 -- mostly involving upholstered furniture -- to keep businesses from selling substandard products to consumers.
California is the only state in the nation with fire safety regulations for upholstered furniture in homes. Products that fail to meet these regulations can pose a danger because they catch fire more easily.
Since the mid-1970s the state has regulated upholstered furniture with a standard for both open-flame and cigarette-smoldering resistance. The laws have protected many Californians from home-fire deaths, injuries and economic devastation. The upholstered furniture fire-safety standard is known as "Technical Bulletin 117." For mattresses, the Bureau enforces the national mattress flammability standard and state product-labeling requirements.
Consumers can take a few easy steps to ensure upholstered furniture and mattresses meet state standards, including looking for proper labeling and checking that the retailer and manufacturer are properly licensed