A Michigan woman got more than she bargained for with a recent furniture rental. But it wasn’t the type of “gift with purchase” any customer would want—she took home bed bugs.
Candy Williams is a newlywed. She lives in a small apartment in Benton Harbor with her husband and 1 year old daughter. To complete her new home, Williams decided to use Rent-A-Center on MI-139 for an 11-month agreement on a wooden headboard, footboard and dresser set.
The bedroom furniture arrived Thursday, June 5. The very next day, Williams said she noticed bug bites all over her body.
“I feel itchy all the time,” said Williams. At first she thought it was a spider bite, but after a few more mornings with more bites, she went to a doctor.
According to Williams’ mother, the doctor said they were bed bug bites.
“That’s when we went to the building,” explained Williams. Her apartment complex set up an appointment for an exterminator to take a look at her bedroom furniture. He determined that there were bed bugs in the bed frame but not the mattress.
Williams then reached out to Rent-A-Center, who at first, Williams said told her that it wasn’t likely the bedbugs originated in their headboard. However, they assured her that if they did, they would take care of it.
A second exterminator from Terminex in Benton Harbor, recommended by Rent-A-Center, examined the bed set. Williams said the bug expert determined that the bedbugs originated in the headboard and told her to get out of the apartment as soon as possible.
“He said after looking into the frames and seeing the blood spots, he said, there’s a lot of blood spots for you having the furniture a week. So he said, I believe that the furniture has already been infested with bedbugs before you even had it.”
Williams’ experience isn’t out of the ordinary. Over the past three years, more than 1200 people nationwide filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Roughly 900 of those complaints dealt with products and poor service.
“They told me that usually, when they rent out furniture, they have them (Terminex) come in and treat the furniture and that they treated my furniture,” but after the infestation, Williams doubts that any treatment occurred.
In the meantime, Williams is living with her grandmother in town. The rental company told her they didn’t want to pick up the furniture because it could risk spreading bedbugs to their store. They haven’t told her if or when they will deal with the bedbug situation to her apartment.
Rent-A-Center told the family that their assigned insurance adjuster will be unable to assist them until Monday. NewsCenter 16 reached out to the corporate office, however did not receive any response.