All manufacturers sign a contractual agreement with their dealers that require dealers uphold a specific code of behavior that includes providing for quality support both before and after the sale of their products, including warranty support.
Among these rules:
1. Warranty support - while some sellers may have their own warranty, it is usually very limited in scope, often as short as 30 days. The warranty is only as good as the dealer who backs it. If they go out of business, your warranty is gone with them.
2. Steelcase assigns serial numbers to every chair they manufacturer - this record details the original purchaser and the limited lifetime warranty is only valid for the original purchaser. You may not be able to purchase replacement parts, pads or fabric without the serial number. If your chair breaks, repair may be difficult to achieve.
3. Would you buy a used car if it didn't have an odometer? Chairs don't have mileage meters on them so you have no idea how much life they may have left. Steelcase chairs are rated to 300lbs and a 40 hour work week. If your chair has seen more use than this, its lifetime may be shortened. Cushions that have seen heavy use may be less comfortable.
4. Selection of fabrics, leather and colors - Steelcase has exclusive contracts with all its fabric suppliers. While a refurbished chair may look like it has the same fabric, there's a fair chance it is a lesser quality fabric with an unknown wear pattern and lifespan. Leather comes in many grades. Steelcase only uses top quality hides.
We are not implying that a used Steelcase chair doesn't have value, it does. These are great chairs. However you should be fully informed of the history of your chair and pay a price that is low enough to reflect the risk you take on given the unknown lifespan remaining in the chair.
When comparing dealers and pricing, read the description thoroughly. As all authorized dealers are subject to the same minimum advertised pricing, any dealer lower should be suspect. Ask the right questions.