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The Top 6 Problems with Buying Used Office Furniture in 2023

The Top 6 Problems with Buying Used Office Furniture

Everyone loves a good bargain, right? Well, of course – but if there’s one thing you should pay more money for, it’s office furniture.


If you’re thinking about buying used office furniture for your workplace, you may want to reconsider. The truth is, buying used office furniture can actually cost more money than newer office furniture.  


Here at Egyptian Workspace Partners, we're constantly being asked if we sell used office furniture. While we don't, we do think it's important to understand the good, the bad and the ugly of buying used office furniture. 


In this article, we'll discuss all the reasons why you shouldn't buy used office furniture, from the lack of a reliable warranty to hidden costs you may not be aware of, and everything in between. 


Why Shouldn't You Buy Used Office Furniture?

Problem #1: No Warranty


One of the main drawbacks of buying used office furniture is the lack of a manufacturer’s warranty. Used furniture is generally sold as-is, so there’s no guarantees, service plans, or warranties to fall back on.  


Unfortunately, most warranties only apply to the original buyer. When office furniture is re-sold to someone else, any existing warranties will no longer be valid.  


If you buy a used office chair and it breaks, you’re out of luck. No one will be able to repair or replace the chair, and you’ll be left with a broken piece of furniture that takes up space and serves no purpose. Plus, you’ll have to spend money on a replacement chair.  


Although new office furniture with warranties is more expensive at first, the value is unmatched. Once you go up in price, the better the warranty will be and the more it’ll cover.  


For example, Steelcase offers a limited global warranty on all furniture, including the Leap and Gesture task chairs. These chairs do cost more than other seating options, but the warranty will cover repairs, replacements, and any shipping costs.   


Problem #2: Condition of Furniture


When you buy used office furniture, it's hard to tell how old it is, where it’s from, who was using it and how they were using it.  While you may be able to find used furniture in great condition, the chances of buying used furniture that’s dirty, dinged-up or defective are highly likely.  


Used office furniture may cost less upfront, but newer furniture will last longer. Office furniture is prone to normal wear and tear, and parts like mechanisms and fabrics will eventually wear out.  


If you buy a used workstation that’s already five years old, it may only last a few more years. On the other hand, if you buy a newer workstation that’s covered by a warranty, you may never have to buy another workstation ever again.    


Additionally, used office furniture is more likely to have hidden defects, such as a compressed seat cushion or broken armrests. These defects won’t be covered by any type of warranty, and you probably won’t be able to find any replacement parts either.  


Problem #3: Fewer Design Options

If you care about the look and feel of your organization, it can be challenging to create a space you truly love when you buy used office furniture.  


Whether you’re in need of cubicles of height-adjustable desks, the design possibilities are almost always limited because you won’t be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.  


Most used office furniture is out-of-date, so you won’t be able to match the exact aesthetic of your office or be specific about the design choices. You also won’t be able to handpick any fabrics or finishes.  


Furthermore, you won’t have access to an interior designer who can guide you through the entire decision-making process, which is arguably the most important aspect of redesigning or furnishing your office space.  

Problem #4: Discontinued or Missing Parts

Used office furniture can be anywhere from ten to thirty years old, if not more than that. This means any mechanisms, lighting components, power connectors, and other parts can be outdated, discontinued, or completely obsolete.  


Most used furniture providers aren't authorized dealers of the furniture they sell, so they won’t have direct access to replacement parts from the manufacturer.  


These dealers will often use generic parts that are lower quality and not specifically designed for any particular piece of furniture. If you want quality parts that actually fit, you’ll have to buy more than you need.  


For example, if you need ten workstations, you’ll probably have to buy five more workstations to have all the parts you need on hand.  


This option is not ideal since it’ll require you to spend money on furniture you don’t really want. There’s also no guarantee that the extra furniture won’t have any missing or broken parts.  


If you’re worried about discontinued or missing parts, you should opt for newer furniture that comes with a warranty and covers any repairs and replacements for free.  

Problem #5: Hybrid Solutions

Most used office furniture is sold as-is. However, some dealers sell used furniture that is no longer designed the way the manufacturer originally intended it to be.  


Sometimes, when dealers buy used furniture at deep discounts, they end up with furniture that’s broken or missing original parts, such as panels or binder bins.   


When this happens, dealers may be forced to create hybrid solutions with furniture from different manufacturers, so they can eventually sell what they have and make room for more.  


For instance, let’s say a dealer buys a used Steelcase Answer panel system that’s missing panels and a tabletop. They could replace the missing panels with older Haworth panels, and build a homemade top that looks the same but doesn’t fit quite right.  


If you want high-quality furniture with the original parts, you should stay away from buying used office furniture at all costs. Instead, you should choose new furniture that’s covered by a warranty.    

Problem #6: Hidden Costs

Even if you find used office furniture that’s advertised as free, it’s not actually free. Over time, the hidden costs of owning and taking care of used office furniture can be higher than that of newer furniture.   


Costs such as handling, assembly, and storage can be outrageously expensive. Transportation can also be costly since you’ll most likely be responsible for picking up the furniture and taking it where it needs to go.  


In addition, dealers are more likely to overcharge for used furniture and what it’s really worth, so you’ll need to take those costs into account as well.  


New office furniture from a high-quality manufacturer may cost more initially, but you’ll save a lot more money. Plus, you won’t have to worry about hidden costs such as transportation or storage.  

Should You Buy Used Office Furniture?

So, the question remains: should you even consider buying used office furniture? 

When clients tell us they want used furniture, we always want to know if they're taking it because it's the right solution for them or because it costs less upfront. 

Most of the time, it's because they want to save money. Fortunately, there are cheaper options that don't involve buying used furniture. 

For example, instead of buying the most expensive piece of furniture, you can go with a cheaper option that looks similar and comes with a warranty.

This way, you won't have to worry about buying used office furniture that's in questionable condition and has to be replaced in just a few years. 

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