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Surreal Sit-4-Less and American Express Dispute

After the Nth go-round of "it's broken", "it's clearance" with American Express on the dispute with Sit-4-Less regarding their ability to ship parts of a product rather than the whole thing, I decided to try a different approach.

I'm now writing to the various company CEOs directly with the following letter. I'm open to other suggestions, so long as they don't involve violence. At least not prosecutable violence.

Here's the most recent letter, with key information redacted. I've always wanted to publish a redacted document. It makes me feel like a journalist protecting his sources, similar to Bob Woodward during Watergate. In this case, it may be more like Carl Kolchak. I liked The Night Stalker series. Inspired me to be a reporter. That was after I decided astronaut wasn't as easy to achieve as Tang made it appear.

June 3, 2009
American Express

PO Box 981532

El Paso, TX 79998

Dispute #xxxxxxx

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in regard to the request for more information on a dispute I have with Sit-4-Less regarding a charge of $$.

Since AMEX last contacted the vendor in April, I received an abused unmarked box with 4 screws in it (on April 22). The intent of this gift was a mystery until I noticed that the return address is where Sit-4-Less ships from. While the screws would allow me to attach the back of a chair to its base, they don't solve the primary problem area, namely "back of chair".

I need an office chair that can be used for sitting as opposed to the one from Sit-4-Less which is more suitable as a sculpture or stand for a pet parrot.

Not having a parrot, I am at a loss as to what I should do with this "chair".
I suspect the assembly and adjustment manual that accompanies a Herman Miller chair explains how to use it for pets other than parrots when one can't use it for sitting. Sadly, this manual was lost along with a few other parts that might contribute to the classical definition of a chair when Sit-4-Less improperly packed it for shipment.

To help explain my position, I've included a diagram showing the consensus definition of a "Herman Miller office chair." Note: consensus is defined by my wife asking "
How exactly are you going to sit on that thing? It's missing parts." which demonstrates our agreement. (Apologies for the crudeness of my diagram. I often slept in art class due to the early morning start.)

Diagram 1: purpose of chair parts

Diagram 2: components of a chair

Diagram 3: Einsteinian thought experiment involving chair, me, and a parrot

Missing any of these elements changes an office chair into another class of product, say "hurricane-strength paperweight" or "perch for large avian beasts."

While Sit-4-Less demonstrates true American business efficiency by selling partial chairs as clearance items, it would be helpful if they would label them as such. Perhaps they could call them something other than "chair" or add a footnote that reads "item can't be used for sitting, but will be helpful to parrot owners."

I suspect the "4-Less" part of Sit-4-Less derives from their ability to ship one chair's parts to two customers, a wholesale savings to them of 50%, not to mention lower shipping costs. I'm partly to blame for assuming the name was an indication that I would benefit from the "4-Less" part as well as the "Sit".

If these practices are what AMEX expects from businesses, I will plan better in the future by exploring the types of pets that can use half-assembled products as perches. A vulture would be cool. I've always been fond of iguanas too. Do you think they would get along?

Regardless, this complaint has been open for almost a year for one reason: Sit-4-Less sent me an improperly packed product in a damaged box and made no effort to correct the problem for almost 9 months, during which time I bought a new (real) chair. My niece would like me to add that the new chair's wheels do, in fact, go round and round.

I would appreciate your attention the matter of getting me a refund or return. I can be reached at ###-###-####, day or night, although at night I sometimes stub my toe on the Sit-4-Less bird perch while trying to reach the phone, so please don't take the swearing personally as that is not my intent.

Resolutely yours,

Labels: ,

Hi Mark,

Sorry to hear about your experience with Sit4less. We'd like to get some more information from you and see if we can help with a resolution! If you could contact us at 800-646-4400 x 2, or email at, we'd love to help out!

Herman Miller Retail Customer Care
Hi mark good to see you still blogging :) looking forward to more :)
Thank you HM, I will follow up when I'm back in the office. I expect AMEX to once again disregard the broken chair and say "but it's clearnance."

I feel like John Cleese in the parrot sketch. It's passed on...
Hello Mark,

Sit4Less customer care here, we're sorry you have had a hard time with this order. After we came across your post, we pulled up your order records.

As you mentioned, this was a clearance chair, which is a final sale item. We do show record of a first set of bolts after initial contact - and when those failed to arrive, a second set of bolts was sent out and has been confirmed and signed for.

These bolts should be all you need to sit as comfortable as your pet parrot (hopefully even more-so)!

Let us know if there is anything else that you are missing or if we can help walk you through any questions you have with the assembly. It should be pretty simple unless there is something else missing which we could determine if you walked us through any problems you are having.

Are you missing wheels as well? We don't see any record of a request for wheels. Let us know and we will get some right out to you!

Please email us at and we will make sure that your issues are addressed immediately.

Thank you, customer care
It all ends well, as AMEX decided that there wasn't enough evidence that anything had been done by the vendor and refunded my money. Maybe I'll donate the chair parts to a home for old pirates.

What puzzles me is why S4L would post here after looking up my account. Isn't it more sensible to call customers directly rather than posting in blog comments? Curious company that I won't be recommending to anyone.
Fantastic posting here! good job!
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