Laminate flooring customers who purchased the Chinese-made product from Lumber Liquidators are being offered air safety testing in hopes it will give them some peace of mind. The discount flooring company announced last week that it will pay for indoor air testing at the request of qualified customers. The test kit will measure the amount of formaldehyde in the air.
NBC News points out that the kits cannot detect the specific source of the formaldehyde. If the initial test indicates a high level, the results will be evaluated to determine if further testing is needed. Lumber Liquidators did not indicate if it will pay for the removal or replacement of flooring if levels are determined to exceed “accepted thresholds.” The company says only about a thousand customers have requested kits so far.
Lumber Liquidators is providing the air safety tests to help alleviate customers’ fear resulting from a 60 Minutes report accusing the company of knowingly selling laminate flooring from China that had high levels of formaldehyde. Anderson Cooper’s 60 Minutes report stated that formaldehyde is legal in flooring, but it is a carcinogen, and high amounts have been associated with respiratory problems and certain cancers, such as leukemia.
The day after the report aired, Lumber Liquidators’ stock plummeted. Additionally, retail sales fell by almost 7.6 percent in the following nine days. Sales are reportedly normalizing now, but shares are down 50 percent, according to CNN Money.
Tom Sullivan, chairman and founder of Lumber Liquidators, stated the company will not stop carrying the product in question, adding, “We will sell what customers want.”
He also told investors in a meeting on Thursday that he stands behind every product and is confident in their safety.
“We stand behind our products and know they are safe. Because media reports provided very little context, customers are understandably concerned.”
CEO Rob Lynch also expressed his confidence in the products and anger at being accused of putting customers’ safety at risk, as reported by the Associated Press.
“We are incensed that individuals with a financial agenda can orchestrate a campaign against us regarding the safety of our product and cause a portion of our customer base undue concern.”
However, Whitney Tilson, of Kase Capital Management, stands firm in his belief that Lumber Liquidators’ management knew they were purchasing and selling contaminated flooring.
“It’s telling that, on its conference call, management simply read a prepared statement and didn’t take any questions, despite the fact that they have had weeks to prepare.”
Customers can request an air test kit online to determine if their flooring qualifies. The free kits are only being provided to customers who purchased laminate flooring that was made in China. The company has also put detailed information addressing formaldehyde health concerns on their website.
[Image by Dwight Burdette/Wikipedia]