In 1911, an enterprising immigrant from Eastern Europe named Abraham Simon opened a furniture store in downtown Franklin.
Abraham Simon was a very good man and a very good businessman, and by 1927 he had opened a new store and expanded the business to include mattresses and appliances.
By the 1950s, Abraham’s grandson George Simon was running the company, and in the 1980s, George’s son Kirk joined the family business after he got out of UMass.
In 1993, they expanded the showroom and moved the store entrance to Summer Street.
In 2015, after Kirk’s son Jared got out of college, he, too, joined the company, becoming the fifth generation of Simons to run Simon Furniture.
Like a lot of small, family-run businesses, the Simons pride themselves on customer service. So much so that when they started getting phone calls from irate customers they were polite, even after realizing those irate customers were someone else’s customers.
The calls started last year, from customers complaining about defective furniture they bought online. The Simons explained to the callers that it wasn’t their product, but the calls and e-mails kept coming. A few months ago UPS delivered a package to the Franklin store that contained, as Kirk Simon put it, “a metal desk chair in about 45 pieces.”
“It looked like the erector sets we had as kids,” he said.
They got other unexplained packages with broken chairs and remnants of furniture.
At some point, Kirk and Jared Simon realized that at least some of the irate customers had bought their furniture through Wayfair, the Boston-based, online furniture and home goods behemoth.
“A Wayfair employee called me with a customer on the line asking on the status of bar stools they ordered,” Jared said.
Simon’s Furniture does not sell its products on Wayfair and has no affiliation with Wayfair, but they found out that Wayfair employees were referring customers with complaints to them, confusing them with a furniture conglomerate in Asia that has a similar name.
When Kirk Simon went looking for that company, he found it had no website or phone number.
Jared has been trying to get someone at Wayfair to fix the situation. But just getting someone on the phone has been a Sisyphean task.
“This has been going on for a year and a half, and for the last six months it’s been ridiculous,” Jared said of the customer complaints from somebody else’s customers.
On Monday, Simon’s got five calls from customers looking for help with defective merchandise.
On Tuesday, Jared Simon got a phone call from a Wayfair employee asking him to check on the status of a purchase order. He said the Wayfair employee told him that Simon’s was keyed into the Wayfair system as a vendor, complete with the Franklin store’s telephone number.
A frustrated Jared traded e-mails with a Wayfair employee he contacted randomly. The Wayfair guy was sympathetic, saying, “I understand the frustration. As mentioned before, this will take several weeks for us to fully fix. Thank you for your patience.”
That patience is wearing thin.
“It shouldn’t take this long to resolve this problem,” Kirk Simon was saying.
I reached out to Wayfair, and Molly Delaney, a spokeswoman, issued a statement: “We are very sorry to hear about Jared Simon’s situation and the inconvenience this has caused. We are working closely with our supplier, Simon Furniture International, and our customer service team to ensure that customer inquiries are not directed to Simon Furniture in Franklin, MA.”
Kirk and Jared Simon don’t want to beat up on Wayfair employees. Several of the employees they have interacted with have been pleasant and tried to be helpful. But as anyone who has had to deal with any huge, sprawling, online operation can attest, the bigger the company, the bigger the challenge it is to a) get a human being on the phone b) resolve an issue with one call, and c) endure the Muzak while on hold.
As Kirk Simon said, “It shouldn’t have to be this hard.”
Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.