You’ve seen the web ads: “Church Chair Sale — List Price $175 — Your Price $25.99.”
If you’re like me, you intuitively sense something is out of kilter here! Either the list price is extraordinarily inflated or this is an unbelievable deal! But despite your intuition and common sense trying to warn you off, that price is SO attractive! Isn’t it?
The Church Furniture Partner knows that price is attractive and by all reports, so do a large number of churches. It was just a few years ago that church chairs seemed to have a fairly standard price point. Basic chairs, consisting of a metal frame, plywood seat and back, dual density foam and fabric did not vary greatly in price from one manufacturer to another. Then two to three years ago, the American church market was deluged with imports that featured a significantly lower price. In addition, these chairs were very well marketed with the price highlighted, and churches began purchasing them. So here are a few thoughts about these low price chairs.
- Assembly: In the past, church chairs came fully assembled except for maybe inserting the book rack into pin holes when setting them up. The low price church chairs of our day require significant assembly by the church. While minimal assembly will be advertised, several churches have expressed their frustration at how long the process took and that at times, pre-drilling had not been carried out on some of their chairs.
- Shipping: Because the chairs are not assembled, the backs may ship on one pallet and the seats on another. An order arrived at one church of 300 chair backs. Sometime later the seats arrived (only after that part of the shipment was located).
- Foam: It is so important to make sure the foam is Cal 117 compliant (a standard fire code rating) for all installations and Cal 133 compliant in localities where that rating is called for. Some imported foam does not carry such ratings and have been rejected by local fire marshals after the chairs were purchased by the church. Talk about embarrassing!
- Frame Finish: The process of powder-coating the frames can have various levels of effectiveness. And this is also another area where chemicals that are used in this process might not always pass local inspection. How will the frame look in a couple of years?
- Warranties: This is an area where huge differences exist between some of the low price chairs and those that can cost a few dollars more. Please read the warranty fine print carefully (if you can get your hands on an actual copy of the warranty). While the frame might have a “limited lifetime warranty” you may notice nothing is said about the foam or fabric. Don’t be satisfied with less than 10 years of warranty on both the foam and the fabric. And make sure the frame has a 25 year warranty. Find out what those “limitations” are!
- Continuity: Is the low price chair your church is purchasing going to be around next year if you need more? Often in these third-party import situations, a foreign manufacturer may offer a cheaper chair than where the importer has been purchasing. And before you know it, a different chair is now carrying the same name as the chair you purchased, but it’s not the same chair.
So, should my church purchase a $28 worship chair? In almost all situations, Church Furniture Partner advises against this. I love to see churches save money, but the few dollars you might save, will likely not produce the long-term value you were hoping for. Over at Church Furniture Partner, they can provide you with the low price chairs if your church insists on them at the lowest price. But better yet, they can help your church obtain a far higher quality chair, for well less than the competition. Be sure and contact them for all of the seating needs for your church!