A while back, I broke from the herd of my friends and colleagues. In the early noughties in Boston, we were all scurrying from one dotcom to the next, and having them go out of business as fast as they appeared. One of the biggest icons of the Boston dotcom scene was the Aeron chair - a Herman Miller flagship ass-cradler for the Information Generation. One of the chief means of unofficial compensation when ones' job vanished was the Aeron, as they cost around $850 at the time. There were few Boston-area dotcom tech workers whose home offices didn't boast an Aeron.
Anyway, I broke from the herd in that I actually bought mine. I never had the opportunity to acquire one in a less rosa manner, so I shrugged and paid out. It was worth it; the chair is awesome. But anyway, about three years ago, mine broke. Not just sorta broke; the seat frame actually cracked completely through on one side, rendering it quite unusable.
Well, one of the advantages of having bought something like that is that it has a warranty. But I was thwarted. The retailer I'd bought it from had gotten out of the Herman Miller business, and wouldn't deal with it. Herman Miller's national service department kept insisting I had to deal with the retailer, or failing that, the regional distributor for the chair. Try as I might, I couldn't get the regional distributor to acknowledge that they had responsibility; they kept referring me to the (defunct) retailer or the national number. I made three serious multi-day efforts at penetrating the bureaucracy wall and failed - immediately after the chair broke, a few months later, and a year after that. None were successful.
When I moved to New York City, I brought the (broken) chair with me. I figured maybe I'd find someone to sell me the broken part, eventually; it was just too much of an investment to throw away. I wasn't sure what the warranty length was, but as the actual break receded into the past, I grew less and less sanguine that it would ever be made right.
A week or so ago, I was talking to one of my older cousins. She's a retired kindergarten teacher, with lots of time and projects, and the conversation turned to my chair (she was considering buying herself a new desk chair, as she's having back problems). I mentioned that my chair had been awesome to use, but that it was presently a white elephant. She asked me to send her all the information off my chair (serial number, model number, etc. etc.) - so I did.
Well, today she called me excitedly to inform me that she'd spent a day finding The Right Guy at Herman Miller, penetrating their phone maze. And she'd done it, too. The upshot is that she has succeeded where I failed - and Herman Miller customer service has contacted me, apologized, and informed me that they will be building me a new chair (the Aerons are built to order now) and sending it right out. UPS will contact me to arrange delivery, and will also take away my broken chair. Best of all? The new chair will come with a full 12-year warranty, rather than the remains of the original one.
So I'm pretty happy. Grateful to my cousin, happy that I'll once more have a good chair at home, and grateful to Herman Miller for making things right. Grateful enough to consider this response to have cancelled out the annoyance I had the three prior times I dealt with them. The three years aren't their fault - if I'd had more persistence, maybe I could have gotten this settled the first time through.
But anyway, all's well that ends well, I guess. Can't wait for me new chair!