With a baby sleeping in the nursery across the hall, James Fried closely inspects the couches and recliners in his home in Lebanon, TN.
He pulls out his headlamp, shining the light into the crevices of the furniture a family member purchased from Aaron’s Furniture in early March.
It doesn’t take long for the small, red bugs to start creeping out.
“To bring this into your house, this is very bad,” Fried said.
When Fried’s cousin, who also lives in the home, started noticing the bites on his arms and back, they immediately began to examine the furniture, finding bed bugs throughout.
“I had shivers up my spine,” Fried said.
The property manager of the home confirmed that they have never had a bug problem, including in the years since Fried had rented the property.
Since 2012, the News4 I-Team has documented similar complaints about bedbugs in rental furniture from Aaron's locations in Jacksonville, FL, Atlanta, GA, Portland, OR, and three cases in Middle Tennessee.
One Aaron’s customer who said bed bugs came in his furniture, claimed in 2012 that lower income people are suffering the most because they can’t afford to purchase furniture.
“They're focusing on lower class people. That have to rent or lease from them," said Steve Bratton.
The company has long denied the accusations, stating that the furniture is inspected and cleaned before being rented.
When the News4 I-Team went to the Lebanon store for an explanation, the manager referred our questions to the corporate office.
Garet Hayes, Aaron’s director of public relations, stated in email that the company has partnered with the pest control company Orkin, who has reviewed and approved their quality assurance program regarding bed bug inspection and treatment.
“It is well understood that determining the source of bedbugs is extremely difficult. Additionally, many other differentiating factors, including timing and other issues, are involved in reports of bedbugs and Aaron’s approaches each issue as an individual incident and works toward a mutually agreeable resolution based upon the particular facts involved,” Hayes wrote.
The Fried family said Aaron’s has offered to send an exterminator to the property and take away the furniture, but will not reimburse them for the months of payments they have made.
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