I often get calls from massage chair owners who have a non-functioning chair looking to get their chair working again. I can usually help them if the massage chair brand is still in existence. But, therein lies the problem. Many of the calls I get have to do with massage chair brands that are not in the industry or brand companies who are not in business anymore...the US distributor of that chair model is either gone or they don't carry massage chairs as part of their line-up anymore. They are discontinued massage chair brands.
That's a real problem...and I hate to say it, but there isn't much that can be done about the massage problems at that point.
Are All Massage Chairs Created Equal?
Chair owners tend to think that all massage chairs are created equally, in that they think that chair parts are interchangeable from one brand or model to the next. Folks also tend to think that their chair doesn't need any new parts...that it just needs to be fixed! Few and far between are the cases where a part is not needed to get a massage chair working again. Maybe a hose has become disconnected or some bolts and screws need tightening. But, from my long experience, a chair failure is usually related to a part failure.
When we get a call about a massage chair problem, and it's a model that we don't carry, whether it is discontinued or not, we always recommend that the customer call the retailer from whom they purchased their chair or, at the very least, the distributor of the chair if it s a direct-to-consumer sales model for that chair.
I know that many of these cheaper direct-to-consumer massage chair companies have very little in the way of customer support, let alone a healthy parts supply, but you really do have to try to reach them for troubleshooting of the problem or for getting needed replacement parts. I am familiar with one of these distributors who sell a chair for around $1500, and they don't even have parts for their chair model at all, let alone any semblance of a good tech support department! They probably figure that at such a low price, the customer can just buy another massage chair!
What I normally recommend to someone who calls us about wanting to get their chair repaired is one of the following suggestions:
a. Call the retailer or distributor of the chair (if it is a brand we carry, we will give you the phone number to that company) so that they can troubleshoot your chair problem(s). If they have parts inventoried here in the USA for your chair, great. But, if not, find out if the distributor can still get parts for your model from the Chinese factory. If they can, it may take months to get your parts. If not, ask that distributor if they have a chair replacement program with reduced prices of newer models for previous owners. In the past, Human Touch has offered this type of program to current owners of their chairs. You could also ask the distributor if they have any "open box" (aka previously owned chairs or floor models) that they could sell you for a much lower price, because you are a current owner of one of their chairs already. Or...
b. Call a company like Jez Enterprises, which is a company out of Arkansas that runs a network of techs all around the country. They will let you know if they have someone local to your zip code. If they have someone in your area, they can schedule an appointment for you with that local tech. By the way, Jez's phone number is (877) 242-0749. They may be able to tell you over the phone, based on what you tell them about the brand and/or model of your chair, if you should even waste your time trying to get it fixed. Or...
c. If you find out that the distributor/retailer or brand is out of business, you might be able to find out the Chinese factory in which the chair and it's parts were made (99.9% of massage chairs are built in China). Open the back of the chair and take a look at some of the electronic components. They may have labels displaying where the chair or it's parts are manufactured. Once you get contact information for that factory, you can reach out to them to find out if parts for your chair are still being made or are inventoried by that factory. They can arrange to ship them to you. If you get only the name of the factory, you can do an online search for the factory or go to alibaba.com to see if that factory is selling their chairs online through that platform. You may need to hire a tech just to find out what part or parts are needed. By the way, I can safely say that there are at least a hundred or more factories that either specialize in massage chairs or include massage chairs as part of their product category.
Discontinued Massage Chair Brands
Here is a list of some of the discontinued massage chair brands that have become obsolete since I began my involvement in the massage chair industry back in 2005:
- King Kong - This brand was part of an arm of the American Lighting Industry
Inc, which is or was a very big company. These chairs were sold primarily through Costco and seemed to have a pretty good stake in the industry. From what I remember, they, along with Premier Massage Chairs, lost a $4.55M lawsuit to Human Touch regarding a trademark infringement by both companies.
- Premier (Elite) - Premier had been a player in the market for quite a few years. Apparently, Premier filed for bankruptcy at around the same time that King Kong did, thanks to the $4.5M lawsuit judgment mentioned above. They then later re-emerged as Elite massage chairs. Later still, Elite massage chairs changed ownership hands but that shift in ownership didn't last long, as Elite has since shut down as well.
- Casada - Casada massage chairs is a German company and their chairs are built in China, They had a brief run in the USA as part of the Elite massage chair line-up. With the shutting down of Elite massage chairs, Casada went the way of dinosaurs in the USA. From what I understand, Casada is still a going concern in Europe. We sold a few of their chairs as a distributor for Elite massage chairs and some of the owners needed parts for their Casada models. Feedback I got from one of those customers was that the German company was accessible to US inquiries and parts were made available to our US customers. I have not heard hide nor hair since that happened quite a few years ago, but it was cool to see them support my US customer when they needed that support.
- Neox - This company sold their chairs primarily through trade shows and home shows. When I began in this industry back in 2005, they sold a number of their Taiwaese-made chairs and I met a number of people who had purchased a Neox chair through that distribution channel. I remember sitting in the Neox chair and thought it was pretty nice, especially how the calf airbags moved the legs/lower portion of the body from side to side in a wave-like motion. This was before arm and foot airbags, foot and calf rollers, and L-tracks. Nowadays it would be considered a fairly plain chair. But, it had a nice and smooth roller massage. Well, Neox shut down some years ago but Infinity carried, and still has, the IT-9800, which is basically the same chair as the Neox. I have had a few calls over the years from Neox customers needing a repair. I have referred them to Infinity to see if their IT-9800 parts are compatible with the Neox chair.
- Sanyo - When I first began in the massage chair retail industry, Human Touch, Panasonic, and Sanyo were really the only games in town. Only Human Touch was marketed aggressively and that was primarily to chiropractors. That is
how I got into this massage chair world to begin with. At that time, Panasonic and Sanyo chairs were also available but not widely known. They made great chairs and were actually designed, engineered AND manufactured in Japan. I remember very clearly selling quite a few of the Sanyo 6700, 7700, and 8700 models before the Sanyo company was bought out by Panasonic. All their models were discontinued and we've not seen them since. The Panasonic models continued but they did not seem to incorporate much from the look and feel of the Sanyo models. I get calls and emails from time to time from folks looking for Sanyo parts. They are out there, sold through some online sites, but they are few and far between.
- Omega - We used to sell a number of the Omega 510 and the Omega Montage Pro models. The 510 was a solid chair that had a low failure rate. The Montage was a bit more feature-rich, but we saw more problems with it. It was one of the first chairs to try to mimic the iconic Inada Sogno chair that was all the rage when it came to market with a bang back in 2009. It had the "kidney shaped" armrests and more airbags, like the Sogno. It was also priced similarly. I always thought it was a good chair, maybe a bit high priced at the time, but it never really took off and the company never really promoted it too heavily. It, along with the company, just kind of faded off into the sunset. We didn't realize it had shut down until we tried to reach out to them for a customer who was having problems with their Omega chair. No answer! It wasn't unusual for Omega to take their sweet time getting back to us for customer support, but this time...nothing. They were done. We don't get many calls about their chairs at all anymore. I wish I could tell you in what factory those chairs were built, but I have no idea.
- OSIM - I had never heard of the OSIM company until they purchased Brookstone stores in 2005 and began to transition their massage chair line-up. When that change of Brookstone ownership happened, OSIM stopped carrying the chairs that were commonly displayed in their stores, like Panasonic and Human Touch and replaced them with their own models. You may remember models like uDivine, and uDream. You see, OSIM is a huge company from Singapore that produced electronic and health & lifestyle products, including massage chairs. They purchased Brookstone to become an instant distribution arm of all their products. That lasted a few years but eventually they changed hands, filed for bankruptcy, and ultimately closed all 101 retail store locations in the USA. They still have a presence in airports and online, but it is relatively minimal compared to what they used to be. They now carry regular brand name chairs again and the old OSIM models are not part of their offering. OSIM USA is a player in the US market, but their influence is minimal. However, if you bought one of their chairs back in the Brookstone days, you can, at the very least, reach out to OSIM USA for some direction as to the availability of parts for your "u" chair model.
I may have forgotten some other discontinued massage chair brands, but these are the ones we get the most calls about. If you are in this position of needing your chair fixed, but not being able to get connected with parts or support, I hope this information and these tips are helpful to you.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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