Forms forbid bed bugs victims from speaking - WSMV Channel 4

Forms forbid bed bugs victims from speaking

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

An ongoing Channel 4 investigation found three additional people in Middle Tennessee complaining of getting bed bugs from national furniture retailer Aaron's.

Our investigation also found Aaron's is sometimes asking people to sign confidentiality forms that forbid them from disclosing what happened in exchange for new or cleaned furniture and a cleaning from a pest control company.

But some people are speaking or taking legal action despite those forms.

One Middle Tennessee woman showed us her cell phone video of bed bugs crawling on a mattress that she said she got from an Aaron's store.

On the cell phone video, you hear her pointing out individual bugs and she blames Aaron's for not accepting responsibility for the bugs.

But that woman was not allowed to talk to us about her case because she said she was forced to sign a confidentiality form that forbid her from talking in exchange for a pest control company cleaning her house.

Nashville resident Steve Bratton was given the form as well when he said the bedroom suite he was buying from Aaron's was infested with bed bugs.

Bratton said the bugs bit him, his wife and their 1-year-old grandson.

In order to get new furniture and have his house sprayed to kill the bugs, Bratton said he had to sign the form.

"We had to sign paperwork to get our mattresses back," Bratton said.

The woman who gave us the cell phone video said the form Bratton signed is identical to the one she signed, even down to the paragraph that stated they wouldn't hold Aaron's liable for causing an infestation.

She believes the form has become a standard action from the company for people who show up with bed bug complaints.

Bratton said because Aaron's didn't respond quickly to his repeated requests for a pest control company to spray his house, he felt the company didn't hold up their end of the agreement and decided to call the Channel 4 I-Team.

"They're focusing on lower-class people. That have to rent or leave from them," Bratton said.

Bratton got his mattress from the state store on Nolensville Road where Chris Bailey got a recliner that he said was infested with bugs.

In July, the Channel 4 I-Team exposed Bailey's complaints along with others all across the country, from Atlanta to Jacksonville.

Aaron's refused our repeated requests for an interview, but on Thursday the company sent a statement from Aaron's Vice President and General Counsel Elizabeth Gibbs. Gibbs stated, "Aaron's vigorously defends its position that the Company is not responsible for their situations and that there are no valid claims in these matters... These customers signed documents stating that Aaron's had done everything necessary to fully resolve their concerns... Our customers agreed that they would not hold Aaron's liable and they agreed to waive their rights to pursue further claims."

But Tanya and Roy Morefield of Cheatham County are disregarding that claim. Gibbs said the two agreed not to sue, but the two have filed a lawsuit claiming the bedroom furniture they bought was infested with bed bugs.

The Morefield's attorney advised them not to speak with the Channel 4 I-Team.

Bratton said he doesn't care what he signed because he wants Aaron's exposed.

"They tried to find whatever they could find to say they're not responsible for this bed bug issue. And they really are," Bratton said.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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