The Saga of the Peggy, the West Elm Couch from Hell

February 23, 2017

Exactly one week ago, Food52 friend and contributor Anna Hezel penned a barnstorm of an essay for the Awl that read like a script for a Dario Argento movie. “Why Does This One Couch From West Elm Suck So Much?” the piece’s headline asks. What follows is a trenchant, 1,600-word piece of journalism wherein Anna bolsters her thesis—this couch sucks—with some first-person writing and light reportage on a blazingly awful product she bought from West Elm.

Anna details how she and her partner Kevin bought a creaky little couch the color of burnt sienna from West Elm late last year. Called “the Peggy,” it was ostensibly a product as fine as any other you’d find in West Elm’s catalog. Conveniently, West Elm doesn’t have reviews for its products on its site, making it all but impossible to gauge the quality of their products before purchasing.

But the Peggy's asking price of $1200 suggested a couch of stamina and fortitude. Who would sell a bad couch for that much money?

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Within days of Anna’s purchase, she found that even the faintest trace of human interaction made the couch show wear. If Anna deigned to be, say, sentient in the couch’s vicinity, it’d send buttons ricocheting across her apartment. West Elm’s customer service arm was responsive to Anna’s complaints, sending her a button-repair kit that arrived two months after she lodged her complaint.

The horror culminated in a disastrous New Year’s Eve party, during which the couch collapsed in her apartment, sending tremors through the building. As Anna began expressing her concern to friends and acquaintances she knew owned the Peggy, too, she realized that there was an angry swath of consumers who had the same problems with the couch, taking to Yelp and Instagram to vocalize their distress.

Upon publication of her post, Anna saw a flurry of comments from similarly displeased consumers who'd purchased the Peggy. Her piece traveled widely across social channels. West Elm caved to the public shaming. Anna’s article was published on February 16th; by February 20th, the couch had been de-listed from West Elm’s online catalog. And then came the fun: Yesterday, West Elm announced that it’d be offering full refunds to anyone in the United States and Canada who bought the couch since 2014. If you're part of this demographic, call West Elm’s support number at (888) 922–7870 or email [email protected] and demand your money back.

“All I can really say about the whole thing is that I am surprised and delighted that anybody read my 1600-word customer service rant,” Anna told me yesterday. “And I'm especially pleased that a bunch of people are about to get checks for $1200.” Anna, agreed. We’re thrilled for you. Thanks for producing journalism that matters.

Do you own a Peggy? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Sharon R. March 7, 2017
In this Times article, we learn that West Elm is trying to get into the hotel (and hotel furnishings) business. The irony all shows up in the early paragraphs: "Room furnishings will be similar to those in stores, but are expected to be more durable to withstand repeated cleaning." That really says it all!
Ann-Marie D. February 28, 2017
If a Goop product has a recall will it be published here too? A couch recall is so totally irrelevant to this website despite how personally useful this information is to anyone here.
tamater S. February 28, 2017
I think I understand how you feel, since I felt that way when the SHOP feature first appeared. But I'm used to it now, and only click on the 'non-food' when I have a few extra minutes. I've come to think that FOOD 52 wants to grow, stay relevant or something, and that if people don't click on features, those 'un-cicked-upon' will disappear? I see at the top of this page, there are headings: Home & Design | Home Decor | Rants | Product Design | Rants | Furniture | Culture - But anyway, as long as the features I originally joined up for are still here, I'm gonna stay with them. My favourite thing, actually, is the readers comments that follow. I've learned so much from members like Antonia James, (and dozens of others) and always read those comments and suggestions before tackling a new recipe! Like I say, as long as the good stuff's still here, so am I.
Lauren M. February 28, 2017
Oh my gosh, I bought this useless, frail couch about a year ago and I can't stand it. It's as if it belongs in a doll house, never to be touched. It wobbles when I, a very petite female, sit on it and I'm afraid it's going to crack in half with any more weight, and I don't want to tell my guests not to sit on it! I've been wanting to ditch this thing nearly since the moment I got it. Very disappointed, especially with wanting to make a space that's inviting to my guests, in all aspects. Thanks for the info, I will definitely be requesting my money back and getting a different couch.
tamater S. February 28, 2017
Good reason for supporting Bricks & Mortar, for furniture. That goes for clothes and footwear. I'd rather go to the store I purchased from, than deal with the frustration of faulty phone numbers & being disconnected.
tamater S. February 27, 2017
Thank you so, so, much for what you called your customer service 'rant' - Don't worry, we're glad you did. If a customer service rant is 'bad', then you don't wanna be good! I found it so insulting that you were sent a replacement button kit for something you spent $1,200 on. Disgraceful. Thank you, Food 52, for supporting Mayukh Sen.
sandy February 26, 2017
Evan, I'm with you. It is interesting and very helpful for a lot of people. You did not need to apologize. You were just saying...(I think) You get good and bad everywhere. West Elm is a very nice store. Now people are saying they are too high. Their products are not good. They've made it good. Don't beat a dead horse. Mayukh was a little rough. He works for Food52, be nice to people.
dietitian-nutritionist February 26, 2017
Thank you food52 for publishing Anna's article, because what that demonstrates is that food52 cares about its readers in all aspects of life. Also, just because the Peggy is pricey, many people with little means save up to buy something that they believe is quality, only to find out the opposite. food52 is like my family, but it really cares about me!
Melissa February 25, 2017
Thank you! I own a Peggy with issues!
Jacqueline February 25, 2017
I sent an email to West Elm explaining my nightmare with this purchase. I Have an infant and the buttons falling off is a potential choking hazard! Someone called me back within an hour after sending the email. I have to take photos, email to them, they will then pick up this piece of crap couch and then issue a store merchandise credit. However, the phone number that they originally provided, 888-922-7820, is not a working number. You have to call their main customer service line and tell them you have a Peggy Sofa right away. They will send you to a specific department that is dealing with the Peggy Sofa issues.
Lynn February 25, 2017
Jacqueline, My daughter finally got through to a customer service rep (who was not versed at all on the product or the recall). She was finally offered store credit which she REFUSED. Finally they agreed to a refund. Sofa is being picked up next week.
Jacqueline February 25, 2017
Update: They are giving a Full refund! Thank you for writing this...I tried to get a replacement sofa 2 years ago, but they ignored the issue. Now they are taking it seriously! Many many thanks.
Jacqueline February 25, 2017
Hi Lynn, the customer service rep actually asked me if I would rather have a refund...Ugh, Yes! I have no interest in another over-priced lemon ;)
Lynn February 24, 2017
Tried all morning to get through to West Elm on the dedicated phone line. The recording says please stay on the line and a rep will be with you....then disconnects. The West Elm FB page has also scrubbed and shut down "Visitor Posts". I'm sure they're overwhelmed by this but c'mon! Frustrated!
the T. February 24, 2017
I rubbed my eyes and double checked. This is not Kitchn, so why the pseudo-wry hipster garbage. We would like articles about cooking please, not the latest thing people with too much time and money on their hands waste money on.
Kenzi W. February 24, 2017
Hey there—I wanted to clarify that actually this is within the normal realm of our coverage (see here if you'd like to read more: and we thought it'd provide a service to some readers who hadn't yet seen the recall. And a reminder: We're game for criticism always, so long as it's constructive—"hipster garbage" doesn't give us a lot to unpack.
tamater S. February 27, 2017
I heartily disagree with you. I expect to be finished my renovations in a few months, and am now grateful to be saved the frustration of dealing with a company that treats their customers so disrespectfully - before spending my hard earned furniture budget dollars.
Evan February 23, 2017
I feel like some of this new content is getting unfocused. This is basically an article about a different article about a couch. I get that food and homes have a lot to do with one another, and I do appreciate exploring the breadth of stories that are related to food and culture and lived experience, but this feels several degrees removed from anything I care about. It seems to be part of a pattern of new content that I think could use some pruning for length and some thematic reigning in.
Ann-Marie D. February 23, 2017
I agree. A Home52 is needed.
Mayukh S. February 24, 2017
Hey Evan! Hm, I'm not sure that crafting a whole publication's editorial purview based on what one individual cares about makes a ton of sense. As you can see in some of the comments below, there are other people in our readership who do care about this. There's clear value to covering this when we know our readership may be directly affected by West Elm's screw-up. (And, yes, you're right—this is indeed an article about another article, similar to what numerous other lifestyle-oriented media publications have run since West Elm's refund offer.) The existence of this article on the site doesn't negate the presence of other coverage that might speak more directly to what you'd want when you come to Food52. That stuff's still there.

As for siloing our H&D content, that's been here happily and peacefully for some time now. My colleague Amanda Sims has done an especially beautiful job (and it's not an easy one) of threading that coverage in with our articles on home cooking so that they live, harmoniously, on the same site.
Elle T. February 24, 2017
I'm happy that you guys covered this non-food related item. I wouldn't have known about it otherwise and I have a Peggy! So, while I love curated food articles, the once in a while useful article on ankther topic is not frowned upon over here 🙌🏻
Evan February 24, 2017
Hi Mayukh, I apologize if my comment read as aggressive (I was really hungry when I wrote it...nothing good ever comes of hangry commenting). Rereading it I can see how it sounds like I'm saying that all content on the site should conform to my interests, but that isn't what I meant to imply. I was trying to share my personal reaction without speaking for all Food52 readers who, as you state above, in many cases got a lot out of this piece. I often enjoy the home and design content on the site and I do think it has a place here, I think I just felt like this piece was a little bit less sharply focused than other articles I've read and enjoyed on the site. I still think my opinion is valid even if others' differed. If there is a better place than the comments section for readers to register feedback on articles or content trends that we notice, let me know where that is and I'll submit any future opinions there if I think they are constructive. If you aren't interested in feedback from readers, let me know that too and I'll keep it to myself.
Mayukh S. February 24, 2017
Totally chill, Evan! It's an understandable comment, constructively relayed—I get where you're coming from. (I am also always hungry.)
tamater S. February 27, 2017
Figure it this way: the less money wasted on crap, the more money that can be spent on quality food and kitchen appliances! :-)
Lynne W. February 23, 2017
I bought a completely different couch from West Elm and in 9 months one of the legs just broke off and is not fixable. I spent hours on hold to find out they will do nothing about it. Don't buy any couch from West Elm!
Elle T. February 23, 2017
Do we get refunded for the processing&shipping an tax for this God-awful piece of furniture? We got the sectional with left chaise piece and it's been a nightmare.
Elle T. February 23, 2017
Oh, and the friggen delivery surcharge on too of all of that? Yeesh. Thanks for posting this. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Hollie D. February 23, 2017
My boyfriend and I bought a $400 rug from there (insurance money from my neighbor's house being set on fire and causing damage to our house). The thing was awful. It currently resides UNDER a $30 rug from Target for some extra cushion (and me being too lazy to drag it to it's doom in the garbage).
Flo February 23, 2017
The squeaky wheel gets the grease!
Nancy February 23, 2017
I have that "Paprika" Peggy. Button nightmare.
Carol H. February 23, 2017
This is not surprising. Their sofas are terrible. The fabric on my sectional literally shredded apart. West Elm was less than responsive.
Edna S. February 23, 2017
It may be just me, but I find West Elm's furniture overpriced for the quality.
Lynn February 23, 2017
I just informed my daughter who has a Peggy chaise sectional and has been plagued by the button issues too (at one point WE even sent replacement cushions, but the problem persists). I'd have missed this info if not for Food52. Thanks!!!!
Laura E. February 23, 2017
totally unrelated, but when-oh-when will new episodes of Burnt Toast be released? I keep seeing episodes appear in my podcast queue, only to have my hopes dashed by rebroadcasts. I miss them! :)
Amanda S. February 23, 2017
March 9th!! Your comment warmed our hearts quite a lot, by the way.