When Buying Furniture, Don't Always Trust the Tags

Ashley said that the Glen Eagle secretary desk was simply a brown cherry color and that the phrase "solidly constructed" did not mean solid wood, but rather referred to the stability and tight construction of the piece.

Ashley said parts of the desk, like the legs, were solid wood, though not cherry.

'100 Percent Split Grain Cow Hide' Turns Out to Be Fake

"GMA's" most disappointing purchase was the $179 Taylor Chair from nationwide chain World Market.

The tag described the upholstery as "rich brown leather" and "100 percent split grain cow hide."

We snipped some samples from the chair and had them tested at the University of Cincinnati's Leather Lab, where retailers often go to check up on their foreign suppliers.

When scrutinized under a microscope, 10 percent to 20 percent of the samples turned out to be fake, the professor in charge of the lab said.

"I found immediately that these samples were obviously not leather," said professor Nicholas Cory. "They are not leather. There are no traces, absolutely no traces of any leather fibers. They are just plastic."

The federal government requires leather shoes and purses to be labeled in detail -- "but not furniture," Cory said

World Market told "GMA" that -- without the company's knowledge -- about a quarter of its Taylor chairs had been made of a synthetic material.

The chain says it has now pulled them out of stores and will provide genuine-leather replacements to any customers who contact the company.

Advice for Furniture Buyers

"GMA" asked consumers for reaction to our furniture findings and heard comments like, "I think they should be regulated," "It's tricking the consumer, basically," and "I think we have to investigate -- look below the surface."

With the help of a bunch of power tools, that's exactly what "GMA" did.

Just because a piece of furniture contains a type of wood in its product name, don't assume it actually contains that wood. If the piece is solid wood, chances are that's something the store will brag about in detail.

Ask the store manager for a signed letter describing the main materials the furniture contains and guaranteeing that you can return it for a full refund at any time if you discover differently.

Ask for a written warranty. Most pieces of furniture do not come with one, something consumers would never tolerate with other expensive home items, like appliances.

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