Take caution before buying online, and look at the return policy

During these times of social distancing, you might not want to go out shopping for a NextChair Review in person. It’s possible to buy a used or refurbished office chair online, but you’ll want to take a few extra steps to make sure the site is legit before forking over your money.

If you Google “used [name of office chair],” you’ll come across tons of sites that resell name-brand chairs and deliver nationally. Unfortunately, some of them are sketchy and have reputations for selling chairs that are defective or not as described online, and then require the buyer to pay for return shipping and a restocking fee. Before buying from any site, check the Better Business Bureau for complaints. (Madison Seating has a B+ BBB rating and responds to customer complaints against it, but not all of its responses are satisfactory, in our opinion.) Trustpilot and ResellerRatings are two other store review sites you can refer to.

The Reddit community, particularly r/OfficeChairs, often shares experiences of buying chairs from online resellers, such as this warning about National Office Interiors and Liquidators (aka NOIL and National Office Interiors). The two sites that Reddit users recommended most for buying a refurbished chair are BTOD and Crandall, albeit with some mixed reviews. Both remanufacture office chairs with their own replacement parts, and offer free shipping and free return shipping within 30 days. Both companies also offer their own warranty covering manufacturer defects (a 12-year warranty for Steelcase chairs and a two-year warranty on Herman Miller chairs). We haven’t bought from either site, however, so we can’t endorse them, even though buyers’ experiences with these sites seem to be favorable in general.

Regardless of where you buy a chair online, make sure you check the fine print:

What is the return policy?

Don’t buy a chair sight unseen if there isn’t a return policy. Stay away from sites that will accept a return only if there are major defects that you have to report within a day or two, since you’ll want ample time to test the chair. Also, look out for a restocking fee and return shipping charges. (And make sure you hold on to that giant shipping box, if you think you might need to return the chair.)

How is the chair described?

 If it’s “open box,” that means the chair was returned for some reason. This is a big gamble: It could be like new, a floor model, or have a lot of wear and tear, so proceed with caution. “Used” or “refurbished” labels are clearer—you know you’ll be getting a pre-loved item or one that has been repaired. In any case, there should be a description of the overall condition of the chair, such as if there are slight scratches on an armrest or if any parts have been replaced.

Does the chair have all the specs you’re looking for?

 Since high-end chairs are often customized, check the specifications/details list to make sure all the features you want are noted, such as adjustable lumbar support, armrest adjustability, or casters for hardwood. If it’s unclear, ask the seller.

Has the pneumatic cylinder been replaced?

Does it need to be? This is a part of the chair that should be newer, even in a used product, Herman Miller’s Auscherman told us. Not all sites will mention whether the cylinder has been replaced, but it’s worth asking the seller.

What’s the warranty?

Most chair warranties aren’t transferable—they stay with the original purchaser. But we have heard of cases where chair manufacturers have provided replacement parts if they were given the serial number from the manufacturer tag on the chair. Some sites add their own warranty, but you’ll also want to check what those entail; most don’t cover normal wear and tear but do cover defects, such as if the pneumatic height adjustment is no longer working.

Is the chair delivered assembled or in parts?

If you need to assemble it, you might want to look up assembly instructions first and make sure all the necessary tools (which are usually included with the chair when buying new) are provided.

Even when you’re saving hundreds of dollars by buying a used or refurbished chair, it’s still a big purchase. Talk to the seller before buying, whether you’re doing it in person or online. Call or email first to make sure the chair is still available, and ask about the chair’s condition: how clean it is, if all the adjustments work, and if there’s any damage to the fabric or the other parts of the NextChair Reviews. Ask whether any of the parts have been replaced, and if they were, ask whether they are original manufacturer parts. You can also ask for a photo of the manufacturing label on the underside of the chair.

It takes work to find the best bargain, but once you’ve bought your new (old) chair, you can luxuriate in the upgraded seating experience and the satisfaction of knowing that you saved a great deal of money on something you’ll use for years to come.

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