Church seating is a major investment. It’s important to fully understand what protections you have against product defects and other issues. Here’s everything you need to know about chair warranties.
How Do Warranties Work?
A warranty is a guarantee that the product will live up to the manufacturer’s claims for a certain period of time. Specifics about product performance and the length of time should be clearly outlined in the written warranty. Be careful about verbal promises as they usually can’t be enforced. This is why it’s important to get everything in writing.
What’s Covered in a Church Chair Warranty?
Each church chair manufacturer will have their own warranty that covers different components for varying lengths of time. While it’s impossible to make a general statement about what church chair warranties cover, there are a few things that any good warranty should cover. It’s important to educate yourself on the components of a good church chair warranty so that you’ll know if you’re dealing with a fair and honest chair supplier.
The Games Companies Play & How to Protect Your Church
Some chair providers, including established companies, provide little or no practical warranty protection or use slick evasive language that ensures they won’t have warranty responsibilities or costs after the sale.
Here is a concise summary of some practices your church can avoid. Please read this information carefully! It could save your church thousands of dollars and many headaches.
The NO WARRANTY Game
Some internet church seating warehouses featuring “lowest prices” simply offer no warranty. They dazzle you with many pictures and “specials” and “discounts” stressing low price. But you can’t find any information on their website about the specifications for the materials used in their products or any mention of what they will do if something goes wrong.
And things will go wrong because their business model is based upon buying the cheapest offshore products available to resell to you. Do your church a favor and move on!
Note: Be careful of the verbal promises you might hear from them…they won’t exist when you need it.
The FRAME Game
A sound chair frame is at the heart of good durable church seating. If a frame warranty is provided, be sure it provides for problem-free use of the chair for many years AND that it covers the entire frame – and not just the welds.
Simply put, either the frame is trustworthy for many years or it isn’t. Limiting the warranty to a weld or a “manufacturing defect” is a quiet way of saying they don’t trust the entire frame for a long period of time.
Note: If you have a failure 5 years after purchase they may likely claim it should have been noted earlier because it was a “manufacturing defect” and they are not responsible.
The FOAM Game
All foam begins to slowly break down from the moment it is manufactured. High quality commercial foam will generally carry a warranty not to break down more than 80% of its original form for a 10 year period. Quality church seating providers will put their warranty on top of the foam manufacturer’s, assuming your provider is using quality commercial foam. But be careful of the word games some chair providers will use!
A well known North American chair seating company offers a “non-prorated” foam warranty against “the complete breakdown” of their foam. Probably worded as such because much of their foam over the years has been remanufactured foam from older discarded foam. While it’s cheaper for manufacturing purposes, it’s also vastly inferior to new high quality commercial foam.
Remember, a foam warranty should be specific about what is covered, for how long and how a problem will be resolved if it occurs.
The FABRIC AND SEAM Game
There are really three levels of game players here; the No Warranty, the Pass The Buck Warranty, and the Real Warranty.
The No Warranty companies may imply their fabric is warranted when in reality it isn’t by them or at all. Remember, if it isn’t in writing with specifics on how a problem will be resolved, that warranty doesn’t exist.
The Pass The Buck Warranty
A well known sanctuary seating manufacturer will seem to imply their fabric is warranted, when in reality it is designated in the fine print as a “wearable component” (including the seams) and NOT covered in their warranty. They will tell you the “manufacturer of the fabric” (one of several they may use) provides a warranty (again in the fine print) but they don’t tell you who the manufacturer is, how to contact them or how a problem will be remedied. Practically speaking, this means you have no fabric or seam warranty.
Few chair providers warranty the seams of the cushions and only two do so without qualifying conditions beyond three years – and that’s when most of the problems would occur. Be sure you insist on seam coverage and search out the firms offering seam warranty long term. It is well worth the protection for your church!
The Real Warranty
A good fabric warranty will certify the number of “double rubs” the fabric is warranted for and cover both the fabric and seams for a specific number of years and tell you how an issue will be resolved if it occurs.
Note: It IS reasonable for the chair provider to note the chairs are only for normal and reasonable indoor church use.
How Long Does a Lifetime Warranty Last?
Some companies claim to offer a lifetime warranty on their church seating, but it’s important to carefully examine the details of the warranty to know exactly what the supplier means by this language.
One internet provider of worship seating offers a lifetime warranty on their products, but a closer look reveals the game they play. Their chair is comprehensively covered for ONE YEAR and in subsequent years requires the church pay some or all of the costs of returning the chairs to the company and/or back to the church. The cost for shipping makes the offer to fix unattractive, thus assuring the provider that the warranty will not be exercised. This is a deliberate and misleading use of the term “lifetime” so far as we understand it.
Another version of the same game is to offer a comprehensive warranty for two or three years – but then what? Fabric wears out, foam breaks down, paint chips, foundations break, and your church is holding the bag with no protection.
So are all lifetime warranties bogus? This is a fair question that depends on several important considerations: the reputation of the chair provider, how long they have been in business, what the chair provider means by the term LIFETIME and what components are covered. It isn’t necessarily a gimmick, but always ask and get the answers in writing!
What to Do When the Warranty Is Not Honored
If something goes wrong with your chairs and the supplier will not honor your warranty, there are a few actions recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
- Make sure you understand the terms of the warranty. If it turns out that your issue is not covered, there is unfortunately not much that can be done. This is why it’s so important to understand the warranty before you make a purchase.
- If you bought the chairs from a third-party vendor instead of the manufacturer, try to work with the vendor first. If this doesn’t produce results, then reach out directly to the manufacturer.
- Contact your state or local consumer protection office for assistance. They can help you understand your options. They may also suggest dispute resolution programs to try.
- File a lawsuit. Smaller purchases can be settled in small claims court. However, many churches invest thousands of dollars in chairs. It may be in your best interest to take your dispute to a civil court and hire an experienced attorney.
What Is the Best Chair Warranty You Can Get?
The best chair warranty is one that covers the entire frame and foundations, fabrics, and foam for a reasonable period of time (usually at least ten years). Be wary of companies that play any of the warranty games mentioned above.
So how can your church identify and evaluate a trustworthy warranty?
- Insist on a warranty that is clearly written, easy to understand with without fine print exclusions.
- The company covers all components of the chair for specific time periods.
- There is no cost to your church to fulfill the warranty coverage and especially to transport replacement chairs to or from your church.
In summary, church seating warranties are only real if they provide your church with a realistic and cost-free resolution should your chairs have problems. Protect your church and only work with companies that will provide your church with a trustworthy warranty.
ChurchPlaza’s Comprehensive Product Warranty
ChurchPlaza has been serving America’s churches for over 35 years. We provide only the highest quality products at fair prices and with trustworthy warranties that can be relied upon. Our responsibility is to protect your church.
View the details of our comprehensive chair warranty here. You can get in touch with us at (800) 927-6775 to ask questions or make a claim under the warranty.