Richland woman says bedbug-infested couch came from local store

RICHLAND, Wash. — For nearly $500 dollars, Richland resident Courtney McGowan thought she had struck gold when she found a large sectional at a local rent-to-own store. But just days after her purchase, a nightmare.

McGowan, her five young children, and extended family members had all been sitting on the new couch when they developed bites, welts, and marks all over their bodies.

“I inspected the couch and it was full of them,” McGowan said, noting the immediate horror across her face as hundreds of bedbugs filled the cushions. “The bites are very itchy. They burn, they sting, they swell.”

McGowan remembered just thinking ‘Oh My God.’

It scared me to death. I don’t know if the bugs carry diseases, I don’t know if when they bite them it’ll get into their bloodstream. It’s scary and seeing the welts that look like mosquito bites when you scratch them is no fun at all,” McGowan said. 

It’s been almost two weeks since the discovery but the bites are still bothering the Richland family. The McGowans had to move to a motel for five days where they remain to this day.

“My oldest daughter says, ‘Mommy, I’m itchy.’ My five-year-old says, ‘Mommy, I’m itchy all over the place,” McGowan said. “It’s really infuriating. Not only are we out of our home but we’re out of a couch. They offered to give us a whole brand new couch but I would never accept that offer. I wouldn’t want to go through this again.”

She did, however, accept the refund the company gave for the couch.

Dave Ostler, the manager for ABV Pests, Windows & More, said “it’s not uncommon” for bedbugs to come from rented couches or furniture from secondhand stores.

“That’s how bedbugs find their way around,” Ostler said, adding that the insects are “hitchhikers by nature.”

“Whoever’s sitting on that couch is also bringing them around other people’s houses. They’re stuck on their pants or their backpacks. Anywhere they go potentially and sit down on someone else’s house, they bring the hitchhikers around with them,” Ostler said. “But to bring a couch in and have hundreds of them inside of a couch very quickly probably had the infestation before they brought them in.”

However, McGowan said another exterminator did not find bedbugs anywhere else in her apartment except for the new sofa.

“I know for a fact that I did not cause this issue. It’s the worst feeling in the world, not feeling like you have a place to go home,” McGowan said.

KAPP-KVEW has been in contact with the company who has not yet released a statement but officials are aware of the complaint.

Ostler recommends getting professional help immediately if you spot any kind of infestation.

The McGowan family also set up a GoFundMe to help cover motel, extermination, and legal fees. To donate, click here.

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