What Some Office Chair Suppliers Don’t Tell You: Is It Really As Good As It Looks?

The office chair industry is made up of many reputable suppliers who are very open about their products and what they are intended for. However there are also those in the industry who choose to hide deficiencies in their products, usually by omitting to tell you certain things.

Chances are you've bought something at some time that simply didn't live up to your expectations. Maybe the supplier made false claims about it, or simply chose not to tell you about significant shortcomings.

Let's take a look at some of the things you're not always told about office seats.

How long should a chair last under normal usage?
Virtually no chair manufacturer comes right out and tells you how long its chairs will last. This perhaps isn't altogether surprising as the amount and type of use a chair gets can vary enormously.

Nonetheless, to find the answer to this question is actually fairly simple. All you need to do is to see how long the supplier is prepared to guarantee the product for. So if it's 5 years or longer then this is a very positive indicator because it shows a good level of confidence by the manufacturer. After all, would you warrant a product for longer than you expected it to last?

Anything under 2 years shows little confidence in the quality of the product and is best avoided, unless you like buying new chairs every 18 months.

Some suppliers are prepared to go the extra mile.

What sort of use is the chair suitable for?
The majority of chair suppliers don't tend to tell you what the chair is suitable for, leaving it up to you to decide. However some companies rate their chairs for usage. They will state whether it's intended for long term computer use and this is a good thing. At least you know whether it's built to be used for 8 hour a day or not. If it's not stated, use the guarantee period as a quick guide, if it's 5 years or greater chances are it will handle all day use.

As an extra vote of confidence, some even state that their warranty covers multi year 24/7 use. This is a very positive indicator.

What other things do you need to be wary of?

How about the quality of the seating foam?
This is a really difficult one to assess. The foam used in office chairs varies enormously. The problem is when it's new it all feels great and supportive whether it's good or bad. It's how it performs in the months ahead that matters.

You frequently see people complain that the foam in their chair is no longer resilient and is hard and flat. The reason this happens is the manufacturer used low quality foam which quickly breaks down and goes rigid.

At the other end of the spectrum firms such as Humanscale guarantee its chairs for 15 years, so you won't have flat seat syndrome with its seats.

Unfortunately, there is no simple way to assess foam quality other than to check the warranty period and use it to guide you.

Another area to be wary of is the product's description.

Common meaningless or misleading terms
One of the buzz words in office seating is the claim that a chair is ergonomic. What does this mean? In reality very little, I'm afraid.

There is no set standard for an ergonomic office chair, consequently it can mean pretty much anything. Although many chairs described as ergonomic are quality chairs, an awful lot aren't. Less reputable suppliers just add it to the product description to make it sound better. You'll find a link at the end of this article on how to know if a chair deserves the description ergonomic.

Something you see more and more, especially on low end chairs is the description faux leather. It's a neat way of making plastic sound more like leather. It doesn't alter the fact that faux is really fake. With that said, there are some very good vinyls made to look like leather because of the environment the chair will be used in which just wouldn't be suitable in real leather.

More often than not though faux is just a way of making something inferior sound like the real thing.

Putting it all together
Here's a summary of the key points we've covered:

  • When you want to know how long a chair will last – check the guarantee
  • Many chairs don't tell you what usage they are suitable for
  • Seating foam quality varies a lot – let the chair warranty guide you
  • Ergonomic office chair has no meaning, some suppliers use it to mislead
  • Faux means imitation, it often flatters to deceive

Further information
To help you choose a good chair take a look at this short video which helps to demystify what an ergonomic office chair really is and needs to include.

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