How to Compare Warranties on Standing Desks

May 13, 2021

Employees working on standing desks

Ever bought a product that at first, you thought it is strong and durable but, in the end, began falling apart after a few days? What do you do? You check the warranty if it can be replaced by another product or get your money back. A warranty should be interpreted on a commercially sensible basis, and that the interpretation could override the natural language of the warranty to give effect to the commercial intention of the parties.

In other words, despite the legal jargon written, if the use of the product wasn’t satisfied by the consumer after a limited period, the seller or manufacturer should refund or replace the product in question. 

The real truth behind the warranties

Using the warranty policy of the standing desk is will depend on how much you spend on it. To cut costs to be affordable, manufacturers use cheaper components, cheaper and less skilled labor, and often, they cheat on QA testing—or skip it altogether.

The usual procedure would be commodity producers will test every tenth unit coming off the line, and only test every unit in a batch if the failure rate of the one-tenth sample lot exceeds 8%. While this good for their business model as a high-volume manufacturer, as a consumer it can turn into a big mess to deal with a failed component on something like a standing desk. 

Labor is the biggest internal cost for a manufacturer of a standing desk. There are only three ways to fundamentally remove labor from the equation:

● Shift as much of the assembly process to the consumer as they allow.

   

● Put more investment into engineering a better design upfront, more tooling, robotic lines, and test results, to reduce the number of components people need to touch.

    

● Use more durable components that are less likely to fail QA steps and resulting in reduced re-work hours and waste.

● Manufacturers focus on #1, while quality producers focus on #2 and #3 to be competitive.

The difference between the end-sellers and their OEM suppliers

It’s noted that 99% of the time, the companies that make the base frames for standing desks are not the ones selling them to you. There is a middle company that sources the base, sources tops, creates the end product like component selection, testing, documentation, packaging, warehousing and fulfillment, submitting the complete desk “system” to ANSI/BIFMA for certification, etc. It does all the branding, pricing, advertising, sales, and customer service for it. 

The base supplier is an “OEM” (original equipment manufacturer) to the company that sells the full desk system. Their warranty is to their customer (the end-seller), not to the end-user. So, the seller is the one deciding if a warranty that’s even better than their factory gives them if they see it to be competitive.

It’s all about a difference in attitude towards quality versus short-term profit

One of the big differences between bases manufactured in America versus China is that in China, they do not ever want to receive a failed part from a customer. It’s too expensive and too much hassle to receive it from abroad. So, they simply credit their OEM customer’s next order for one unit instead. American factories want to retrieve the failed part. Through their OEM customer, to analyze and try to improve on it.

American base manufacturers want no failures on the line against trying to keep it under 8%. And they invest heavily to reach that number as close to zero as possible. 

About 99% of all the companies selling standing desks through e-commerce get their bases from Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, or Korean manufacturers. 

Ultimately, the desks will not break down when they use the best components. These are laser cut and robotically welded, and largely pre-assembled. They are tested separately before shipping out. The assembly process is done by the end customer. This might run into a warranty issue because of a part failure or assembly failure.

Check out the warranty limitations before you buy

The legal language on most Limited Warranties can only be interpreted by a qualified attorney or written in plain English. Sometimes the warranties are well hidden that you have to buy the product to find it in small print inside the assembly manual. This is common of all commodity-quality, foreign-made standup desks. Even though Amazon requires sellers to post their warranties on the products. Because there are no specifics on limitations to the warranty.

In most cases, it turns out that the link to the warranty goes to an empty page or one is not connected to the specific product being advertised.

This is the reason it is strongly recommended users do their research outside of the sellers’ platform before buying.

Majority of cases, stand-up desks are being “seller fulfilled,” not shipped from an Amazon facility, and such sales are subject to the seller’s return policy. These policies usually put the return shipping cost on the user and include restocking fees and/or refund reductions for any damage to the unit, including damage incurred in transit back to the vendor, which is always hard to refute. So the buyer should be well of this.

Consumer Alert: Warranty term is no longer an indication of product quality

Before, consumers look to the warranty terms as a reliable indicator of the manufacturers’ perception of the durability, reliability, ease of assembly, and overall quality of their product. But sadly, this is no longer the case.

There are some sellers out there, especially from overseas. Who put out a marketing scheme on their warranty terms. This is to make it look like a super high-quality product but in reality, the warranty coverage is significantly lessened by all the things they put out in the fine print.

Recently there has been a spate of online sellers of foreign-made standing desks increasing their warranty coverage periods to make their products seem more durable than they are. Some of these companies offered extended warranty policies, which some consumers went for it. At some point during a lifetime or 15 warranty on a desk, the seller will not think they will still there at the expiration of the warranty

manufacturers of foreign-sourced, commodity standing desks look at their business models as a numbers game, prioritizing win sales by reducing component quality to achieve the cheapest price.

There is still one reliable rule of thumb when it comes to warranties, and that is those made in the USA are written in plain English, have fewer exclusions, and far better customer support than desks made overseas.

Conclusion:

As with any products, always read the fine print in the warranties to see if you are not being cheated with an inferior standing desk product. We’ll discuss it more in the next article.

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