The ErgoChair 2 is heralded as “one of the most ergonomic office chairs you have to choose from.” That is true, for a couple of months. I’ll explain my experience here so you can decide for yourself.
I bought my ErgoChair 2 in October of 2017 after needing an office chair that could handle some heavy use (8-12 hours a day), being unsatisfied with the options at Staples or Office Depot. I paid $329 for the white/black ErgoChair, which I thought was a fair price shipped. The price has been reduced to $299 for the same chair.
I work from home as a systems engineer, so I needed a comfortable, supportive, and most importantly, durable chair. My previous leather office chair was retired due to cracking leather and a flattened cushion.
After 4 months of daily use, I noticed some discomfort and fatigue after sitting for extended periods, and realized that the cause of this was the cushion. When sitting on the chair, I could feel the hard bottom of the cushion. I expressed this concern with Mark Arin at Autonomous when he checked in on me to see how I was doing (good customer service effort on his part). I received a response from Marquan, a customer service rep:
Thank you for reaching out to Autonomous! The cushion is a bit more firm when you first got it after sitting on it a while it will get softer. The seat has foam inside of it so after sitting on it for a while it will not support as much as is did when you first received it.
Customer Experience Rep.
I thought that to be a bit of a strange response, since I’d only owned the chair for 4 months. While I appreciated the acknowledgement from Autonomous that the cushion does soften over time, I was concerned by the fact that it only lasted 4 months.
I decided to do some digging online for reviews. On Overstock.com, I found the following, posted December 2017.
I sit long hours for gaming and work, so I need a chair that is comfortable. After 6 hours of gaming, my butt hurts because the padding seems like just a thin piece of foam. I weigh 130 pounds and I can already start to feel the bottom hard piece of the seat cushion. I would compare the cushion to be less comfortable than seats in a stadium or movie theater.
Hmm, sounded familiar, but I weigh 195 pounds. I wonder how long he had kept the chair. I kept reading…
This would have been a 5 star chair if the seat had a denser harder seat cushion. I’m about 215 lbs and by an hour of sitting down my butt gets sore and I can start to feel the base of the cushion. The cushion is thick however it is too soft.
I started to realize that my issue was not unique. I replied back to Marquan expressing this concern, and he replied back to me:
I do apologize about this, the cushion is made of foam so it does go a little flat depending on the usage of it. Even if we replaced it, the cushion would do the same thing after a while. There is no exact time frame of how long the cushion will last, it just depends on the usage of the customers. A lot of our customers who are wanting more cushion have bought a seat cushion off of amazon to use on the chair as well.
Customer Experience Rep.
I thought to myself, I realize that cushions made of foam tend to get softer, but to the point of discomfort on an ergo chair? Isn’t the whole point of an ergo chair to be comfortable while sitting for extended periods? My 195 pound build isn’t exactly excessive. What threw me off was the notion that some customers buy a seat cushion off of amazon to use with the chair. Red flags went up when I read that. I shouldn’t have to buy an extra seat cushion 4 months into using a $329 ergo chair. I expressed my frustration with Autonomous and got another reply via e-mail.
I do understand the frustration, I have set up for us to send you a new seat cushion, this issue has been bought to our founders and developers attention, I am not sure what they are doing to address it however it has been bought to their attention several times. However since you are under warranty I will set up for us to send you a new seat. It will ship out Thursday and you will be updated with fedex tracking via email that day as well. Please let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with.
Customer Experience Rep.
I don’t fault this customer service rep for what he said; he’s just doing his job. However, This is a blatant admission that not only is this a problem others have complained about, but also a problem that has been brought to the attention of the founders of the company and developers of the chair, several times.
I got the cushion in the mail in a timely manner, and here’s what I found when I unboxed it:
I get it, stuff happens. Manufacturing accidents are made. I mentioned this to customer service to address.
In the meantime, I decided to sit on the new cushion, and found it to be at least 3x firmer than the one I had before. It was a very noticeable difference. A good difference, in fact. I asked about this, and received the following reply:
The seat was definitely not a shipping error but a manufacture one. I went ahead and placed that on our replacement doc for you. You’ll receive a confirmation email with a tracking like you did before for this replacement. As for the seat cushion, I myself haven’t noticed much of a change in my seat but I’m also the type who sits on her feet from time to time. I’m not aware of the manufacturing in the chair changing. I will go ahead and let our design team know about this and maybe in the near future they can come up with a firm lasting cushion. Please let me know if there is anything else I could assist you with today, and I’d be happy to do so.
That e-mail was sent Wednesday the 31st of January. It is now Monday the 5th of February, and I haven’t received the replacement tracking number. An oversight, perhaps? Not exactly a major issue as I trust the replacement cushion will arrive, but the degree to which the cushion softened, if this defective replacement was in fact the same as the one I originally installed, gave me cause for concern. I expressed this concern with customer service repeatedly, noting that I have a 5 year warranty on this chair and that if we have to keep replacing cushions every 4 months because they go flat, that’s what we’ll have to do. I imagine with the cost of freight going up, that’s going to become far more expensive than just redesigning the cushion.
I bought this chair because of the warranty. I don’t mind taking a chance on a ~$300 chair if it’s backed by a 5 year warranty. Unfortunately, that warranty has been reduced to 1 year as of January 2018. Following the issue with the poor quality materials in the seat cushion, I have a difficult time recommending a $300 chair that has issues with the seat cushion getting too soft to support even a 130lb person’s weight. When my brother called me late last week asking me to help him buy a new chair since he knew I initially liked this one, I had to direct him away. Autonomous lost a sale that day.
A message to the owners of Autonomous: If you’re going to make an Ergonomical chair that you call The ErgoChair, and furthermore, label it the 2nd revision, the ErgoChair 2, then charge $329 for said chair, you ought to make sure you’re using a foam good enough to be supportive for the life of that chair. The rest of the chair is rock solid, but having to replace the cushion after less than 4 months of use is just unacceptable.
Update 8/21/18: The cushion is starting to bother me again. The first time they replaced it, they sent me a chair with one of the tabs on the bottom cracked, but I used it anyway. They sent me a replacement for that replacement, which I kept for later use, figuring I’d need it again. I was right. My cushion currently needs replacing. I’m impressed that I got 5 months out of this one instead of 4. Not impressed that there’s still no word from Autonomous regarding a redesign.
Update 9/20/18: The cushion is now bothering me again. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been finding myself constantly shifting my position in their chair and getting fatigued sitting in it. If I slide my hand underneath my butt, I can feel the screws sticking out of the bottom of the chair through the cushion. The cushion has softened to the point where it is no longer comfortable to sit in it. I contacted Autonomous today for another cushion replacement. At first, they told me that since they already sent a replacement, that I’d have to pay shipping. I told them that was unacceptable, and they went ahead and ordered a replacement for me. Let’s see how long this next one lasts. I’m wishing I had spent the extra $100 on a refurbished Herman Miller.