When I bought my $200 office chair at Staples two years ago, the salesman offered me the furniture protection plan, which for most other products, I decline.
But the guy told me that it was so good that I could bring the chair back anytime over the next three years and they would replace it, no questions asked.
Yeah, right, I figured. They'd be out of business before my chair quit or they'd find some excuse not to replace it, like my butt was too big. But it seemed worth the gamble, just in case it was, like so many other cheap Chinese goods, defective.
When I've bought similar plans for other things, there is usually a catch or a hidden expense. When the wire broke to my old phone headset, Radio Shack wouldn't cover it it because they said it was my fault.
I had a policy that covered losing or breaking my Verizon Android cell phone, and there was a $100 fee to replace it, which isn't too bad. But after it happened twice, they canceled my policy.
When my car got stolen, Farmers refused to replace the musical instruments in it because they said I had once earned some money playing music, so should have bought a professional musicians policy, which, if you've heard me play, would be a joke.
So, I was a bit skeptical when the cushion on this fake leather office chair started wearing out after two years of hard use. Not reading the policy, I brought it into the store, so they could see, or feel, the problem.
The first time I went in, no one knew about the plan and they told me to come back. Uh...OK.
This company is one of the feathers in Mitt Romney's cap, since it was one that Baine Capital financed that grew and didn't lay off workers and spend massive loans on rewards for top executives, so I thought the promise might be a Romney-inspired flip-flop.
But the second time I went in, the sales guy knew all about the plan and told me to take the chair home and call the company and they would take care of it.
Now, I figured it was really hopeless, but I called and after about five minutes, they told me they would send me a $200 gift card to buy a new chair. And, by the way, they added, you can do what you want with the old one, give it to someone or throw it out.
All of a sudden, it became a better deal. Fix the cushion myself and give the chair to a kid or someone who won't use it 18 hours a day and have a brand new main office chair for $16.99.
Reading the small print of the policy, I see that they could have chosen to fix the chair, which would be fine, except for the time it would be gone. But they didn't go that route. It wasn't even considered. They barely asked what was wrong. They just gave me full cost of the chair.
I imagine they'd stop the policy if I tried too many times. Otherwise, I could buy and return a few every day and set up a business selling new office chairs for $100 bucks and making a nice profit.
Hey, that's the American way, right?
Well, for now, let's just say this was a good deal, not sketchy at all.