Determining Value FAQ

  1. How do I judge quality?
  2. If I buy online, what are my assurances?
  3. How can I be sure I'm getting a good price?
  4. Why should I hire a design consultant?
  5. Where else can I turn for help?


FAQ Finder

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1. How do I judge quality?
This is a very tough question and it's very important when judging contract furniture. We've been working on some check lists which ought to be available soon, but in the meantime, there are three major factors to consider. Is there a warranty? Is there a reasonable return policy? Is free local repair service offered? If these three factors are covered, you can be assured that the manufacturer believes he will have only a few problems and he's prepared to deal with them. If you are not comfortable with the warranty, return policy or repair service option, don't buy. Commercial and contract furniture isn't always covered by consumer protection laws like home furnishings...even if you use them at home.
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2. If I buy online, what are my assurances?
Deal with a reputable vendor. Look at their customer list and contact a few companies for references. Check the return policy. If it is a matter of quality, it shouldn't cost anything to get a replacement. If you just want to return an item because you don't like it and you want your money back, remember that shipping costs are usually not included and that often there are restocking charges, as well.
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3. How can I be sure I'm getting a good price?
There are a number of ways to buy furniture. In the Contract Furniture Dealers Index, we identify and describe 7 resources for contract furniture: Full Service Dealers, Office Products Suppliers, Used and Remanufacturered Furniture Resources, Specialty Dealers, Online and Mail Order, Department Stores and Mass Merchandise Discounters. In addition, purchases can be made through design professionals, purchasing cooperatives and associations, related-industry retailers and through direct contracts with certain manufacturers.

Since most contract furniture manufacturers publish "List" prices and sell to the "Trade" at 40% to 60% discounts, vendors generally set their prices based upon the costs of providing a certain level of service. This service may include: Incoming freight costs, receiving, prep and inside delivery, assembly and set-up, space-planning, CAD drawings and interior design. In addition, other factors that may affect your price include: National and local competition for market share, quantity discounts, sales and marketing costs, premiums for "In-Stock" and local warehousing for quick delivery, and method of financing.

Before you can compare prices, you have to determine the level of service you require.

If you are ordering one chair, you are not necessarily in a big hurry, you are reasonably confident in both the product's quality and suitability and your ability to receive, assemble and place it, and you have a high level of trust in the manufacturer's warranty and the vendor's service policy - you can acheive a level of comfort using price as the determining factor even on high-end products.

On the other hand, if you are furnishing a large space with modular office partition systems, you'll need to compare all of the service factors involved and be willing to accept a price that includes these costs. Of course, somewhere in between these two extremes, you have to decide how much your time is worth - after all, it's furniture for your business and time is money.

More additional information can be found on the vendors' Web sites listed in the Contract Furniture Dealers Regional Directory.
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4. Why should I hire a design consultant?
Architects, designers, facilities managers and purchasing agents play an important role in putting everything together - providing the proper foundation and planning; assembling, installing and then maintaining it - to achieve maximum benefit from capital expenditures for human comfort and productivity.

For a fee equal to a small percentage of your overall cost, a consultant will help to insure that your finished project realistically meets your expectations and that you stay within your budget. The Design Professionals has listings of professionals by location and shows areas of specialization. In addition, you'll find selected portfolios in each of the Work Place Environments sections.
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5. Where else can I turn for help?
There are a number of resources on the internet that deal with setting up a small business or home office. We list a number of these in the Work Place channel. In addition, see the Reference Shelf for books on this subject. Our reviews will help you choose a guide that will help.
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