Transcript of Video Titled “Massage Chair Industry Update – August 10, 2021”
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Alan: Hi, I’m Dr. Alan Weidner from ‘Massage-Chair-Relief.com‘ and today is our biweekly massage chair industry update for Tuesday, August 10th, 2021. Thanks so much for joining today. We are in August, which is considered the dog days of summer for the massage chair industry, not a lot usually happening in August. The fourth quarter is when things start to kind of wind up with the you know, Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Christmas/New Year’s, that time of year is usually pretty busy, but July and August usually are a bit slower. People are outside now, especially with COVID, well, I was going to say with COVID kind of settling down a little bit, but it’s not settling down in a lot off places, it’s spiking again, including here in Utah, but anyway, summer is when people spend more time outside, of course, working in the yard, and camping, and holidays, and whatnot. But anyway, things are a little bit slower right now, not any new products coming out just yet. I know Luraco is coming out with their new i9 in the fourth quarter. I know of another major brand that will have a, a major company that will have a new brand coming out, I believe, within the next couple of months as well. And so, things will start to heat up as the fourth quarter comes, but anyway, thanks for visiting today. I know there’s other things, there’s lots of things to do in the summer time, so I appreciate the time that you’re spending here with me.
[SCREEN TEXT: Current Sales]
Alan: We had, we have some new, and again, the dog days of summer, there’s not many sales either, so the only thing that I’m currently aware of is that Furniture for Life has the free, and when you purchase one of their chairs, you have a free, it’s an ergonomic postural desk chair called the Balans, B-A-L-A-N-S, by one of their companies called Barrier, and it’s a nice, it’s a nice, I think the thing is worth like $395, something like that, and it’s free with the purchase of an OHCO, Positive Posture chair, except for the Sol, Panasonic, and the D.Core chairs from Furniture for Life, and that’s a nice offer. They also are throwing in their extended warranty, a five-year extended warranty on those chairs as well, for the month of August. Anyway, also, Osaki has their First Class, the First Class model on sale for $4999, and this kind of leads me to another topic.
[SCREEN TEXT: Logistics Problems Across the Board]
Alan: You know, these, and I’ve talked about this in previous issues, but the price of chairs is going up because of freight problems bringing in chairs from China, and this is not just with massage chairs. This is across the board, you’ve probably heard talk of ships that are hard to get a hold of now. There’s also the problem of availability of containers because, and I think this is because of container shipments have been backed up at all the destination ports around the world, and so the containers are sitting out, sitting in the ocean off of the ports of many of these countries with containers full of product, and those containers that are sitting off the port of these countries are the containers that need to get back to China and Japan, so that some product can ship from there, and so there’s a shortage of containers available to ship Chinese products and Japanese products, and so they are charging an exorbitant amount for a container load, and what used to a $4000 fee to book a container load is now $15,000 to $20,000, and then of course, that gets passed on to us, and kind of passed on to the, and when I say us, I mean us as the retailers and the consumers, and so prices, costs have gone up, and some prices have gone up as well. And we were just notified, you know, Ogawa, the company, Cozzia, you’ve probably heard of Cozzia or Ogawa or JPMedics, that company and their brands, they’ve increased their prices on the cost of their chairs, so far 7%, it was a 5% increase and then a 2% increase in July, and now they’re increasing it again another 5%, and so there will be a 12% increase in costs of these chairs, which is significant. And so, what that means is that, in some instances, the prices of the chairs are going up, or chairs that used to have a little bit more room for negotiation don’t have that room anymore, so the deals, if you will, that were out there before, or that you may have experienced or heard about before are not going to be available anymore, at least until these surcharges, these ocean freight shipping surcharges are, as long as those are in place, these prices are going to be, these costs are going to affect the ability to get lower prices on chairs. But and they all tell us that these surcharges will go away once things settle down, but I’m a skeptic, I’m cautiously optimistic that they will go down again, but I think there may be a comfort zone that is reached, and everybody’s making more money off of those surcharges, even when the surcharges are dropped, if and when they are dropped, or you know, the availability of containers goes back to normal, and all those surcharges are dropped by the shipping companies, I suspect that some companies will keep their costs higher because that will increase their profit margins. But anyway, we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, when things normalize, these surcharges will be wiped off the spreadsheet for all of us, and things might get a little bit more back to normal. I don’t even know what normal is anymore.
[SCREEN TEXT: Delays of Ocean and Land Freight]
Alan: It’s so weird, like the backlog of shipping began last, the fourth quarter of last year, two thousand, no, two thousand, yeah, 2020, last year, when the epidemic started or the pandemic started to really gain some momentum, and there were backlogs of shipping once the production in China got back to normal and it coming, like for example, the United States, chairs coming to the United States were backed up to two to four weeks off the port of Long Beach, trying to get in, but there was such a backlog, and a shortage of truckers to haul the increased orders coming from China that it just, things have just been like molasses, and it’s still like that, even after the fourth quarter, which is usually the busiest quarter of the year for retailers, including massage chair retailers. That was backlogged, and it’s still backlogged, even in to the dog days of summer, of July and August, it’s still backlogged, and some companies are saying expect four to six weeks on a white-glove delivery because of the backlog of shipments, and the availability of like in-home delivery and setup companies. It’s just, it’s just a mess, so just be patient if you order a chair, and it is backlogged or back-ordered, and it’s not here yet, you’re going to have to be patient, and then when it does come, you’re going to have to be patient again because the shipping may not be available to get your chair to you as quickly as possible. We used to say regular curbside delivery, one week, we used to say, you know, two weeks for white-glove delivery, or in-home delivery and setup, we don’t say that anymore. We say typically seven to 10 days for curbside delivery, and two to three weeks for white-glove delivery, but some companies are saying ‘Hey, be careful, because it could take four to six weeks because of the availability, the lack of availability of trucks. So, and not just trucks, but the availability of companies to do the in-home delivery, because you see, the increase of massage chairs, there’s been an increase in the purchase of massage chairs since the pandemic hit because people aren’t going to the massage therapist and the chiropractor like they used to, or they weren’t. So, now they were looking for alternatives so they could still enjoy massage and some kind of manual therapy at home, so they’re buying massage chairs. Well, that increase in the supply of massage chair, increase in demand of massage chairs has led to an increase in the supply of massage chairs, which has increased the need for containers, and so that’s where all this stuff, all these problems have happened, and now there’s not enough, there’s too, there’s so many in-home delivery and setup orders, and not enough companies, or staff availability with these companies to deliver, and you’ve probably heard about the shortage of workers available. I don’t know what the cause of that is, I’ve heard all kinds of things like that the increase in demand was so great that there’s not enough people to work. I’ve heard that people are not willing to surrender the government assistance because it pays more than what some of the jobs are offering, and I don’t know if all these things are true, I’ve heard that from people in the industry, and people out of the industry, but whatever the reason is, there is a backup. And so, just be patient if you’ve ordered a chair, and you’re, and it’s not coming as quickly as maybe you had hoped, or maybe as we had told you it would, maybe there’ll be more of a delay. So, anyway, I apologize on our behalf for those times when the chairs aren’t delivered as promptly as we’d hoped. Alright, so we talked, OK, so that’s about it in terms of sales, that’s about it in terms of getting an update on the backlog and the increase of shipping costs, and all that sort of thing is just delightful.
[SCREEN TEXT: What Parts Tend to Break Down in Massage Chairs?]
Alan: Now, one of the questions I get asked a lot when people call me is ‘What are some, what are the most common problems that you see with massage chairs?’ Because people want to know OK, so if their warranty is one year or three years, after those years are over, and something goes wrong with my chair, what is the cost of repairing? Well, of course, we have a Lifetime Labor warranty, so the cost, the service call for the repair is going to be included for as long as you own your chair, but what about the cost of parts? And so, people will commonly ask me what parts are typically breaking down in these massage chairs, and you know, it kind of varies from company to company. And I know one company has problems with their leg rests on one of their models going up and down after a certain amount of time, and so they need new actuators. Other companies, and is probably more common, the rollers go bad or the rollers break, and they have to replace the roller mechanism. Another thing that’s quite common is the PC boards, you know, the electronic boards of the chairs, and chairs usually have one main motherboard, and then there’s other little ones. For example, Ogawa has, for their Master Drive AI, they have a Bluetooth board that goes behind the, that’s situated behind the head in the body of the chair, and that sometimes goes bad. So, that’s a small one that just needs to be replaced, but then there’s other ones. So, it’s usually the electronics, the rollers, and then of course, you’ll see other things like an air compressor that goes bad, or an air hose. I had a customer that has had their chair for 10 years, and the hose, the rubber hose has begun to deteriorate, and so that was, and we don’t see that much at all. There’s motors that can go bad, but we don’t see much of that, we don’t see much of the compressors going bad. A remote control can go bad there, you know, maybe, and this, and one thing that is common is we get phone calls from people saying ‘You know, my cat or my dog ate the cord of the remote control, can you get us a new remote control?’ And remote controls are typically fairly inexpensive, so it’s not like that’s going to break the bank, but you know, most expensive, you’re probably looking at $400 for maybe you know, anywhere from $200 to $400 for a board or rollers, or you know, or what they call in our industry they call it a roller mech, like a roller mechanism, they call it a roller mech. And anyway, those are the kinds of things that we typically see go bad, and usually, the cost is, for the high-end cost, it’s usually maybe $400, and for some people, that’s not bad. For other people, that’s quite a bit. Typically, the Chinese chair components are a little less expensive than the Japanese, or the American-made chairs, their components are usually a little bit more money. But of course, the failure rates are usually lower, so it’s kind of a tradeoff. But anyway, I thought I would just share that with you. Those are the kinds of problems, if you’re wondering about that, what kinds of problems these chairs have, those are typically the problems. But again, having said that, the failure rate on these premium chairs is usually about 1%, maybe as high as 2%, maybe as low as, you know, half a percent. But that means half, you know, 1% to 2% of the chairs will have a problem, so you may never have a problem. But the people that are asking me are people that are thinking ahead wondering OK, so the chair might be a good deal now, but what’s it going to be like in five years when something breaks down, and how much is that going to cost me, and that’s a legitimate concern. And but, that gives you kind of an idea of what you can expect should anything go wrong with your chair down the road, and you, like I say, you may never have a problem with the chair. But anyway, that’s enough of the issue.
[SCREEN TEXT: Fake and/or Manipulated Massage Chair Reviews]
Alan: And finally, I just want to talk a little bit about reviews. I get a lot of people call, and this, this is one of my pet peeves, and I have to come up with pet peeves because it sounds like I’m a complainer, and I’m really not much of a complainer, I’m usually a pretty content guy, but when it comes to massage chairs, I do complain sometimes, and one of the things that bug me is these fake reviews, and you know, we get phone calls from people that say ‘Oh my gosh, everything about this chair is fantastic, there’s no, everything’s right, do you sell this chair, I want to sell this chair.’ Well, when I hear that comment that there’s nothing negative, I haven’t heard anything negative about this chair, it’s all positive, right away, I get red flags going off in my head, and I think OK, so these reviews are either being manipulated or they are altogether fake, and that is often the case. There’s an app called FakeSpot. You can download it, and you can use that to check reviews of varying sites. I think it’s primarily for Amazon and Yelp reviews, but I think I tried it even on my reviews, on my website, if I’m not mistaken and it’ll tell you, based on an algorithm that this app has, what percent of the reviews are fake, and what percent are real, and they give you a grade. So, if your reviews are all legit, and it’s determined your reviews are legit, you get an A, or an A+. If there is some, you know, funkiness going on, and they suspect, this app, the AI of this app is assuming that there’s some finagling of the reviews going on, then they will give you a grade, you know, commensurate with that sense of suspicion by the app. So, you can get grades as low as F, D, C, whatever, and it’s just like a scholastic grade scale. So, anyway, you might want to take a look at the Fake app, or the FakeSpot app, and see, and you can maybe apply that to some of the reviews. But that is, you know, I wrote a booklet called Buyer Beware: Red Flags You Should Be Aware of When You’re Buying a Massage Chair, and one of them, one of the issues that I talk about in that, because it’s such a big deal, are fake reviews. And please be careful, don’t, and it’s hard, OK, how do you know if a review is real or not. There’s no obvious way to know, but when you look at the big picture, if you look at Better Business Bureau reviews, and here’s something that’s kind of interesting. Some companies have parent company names, and so when you have Brand X, you look up Brand X in the Better Business Bureau, and you can’t find them. Well, that’s a red flag, at least for me it is because there’s got to be reviews for this company, but usually it’s the parent company. I know one company, in particular, and we don’t carry their brand, but you know, people look up this name of this company, and there’s no review. Well, there is a parent company to that company, and nobody knows what the name of that company is, you know, it’s ABC, you know, whatever, ABC company, and then once you get that, then you can find some reviews, but even then, there’s not many because people don’t know about the parent company name. And so, they’re going to register their product as their parent company, and not as their brand, and so you may not be able to get good reviews from Better Business Bureau. But having said that, there’s also just like the general vibe, like if you, like I’ve sold some of the best chairs in the world, you know, Luraco, or the old Inada chairs, you know, currently, the Human Touch, Daiwa, these are all good companies, Infinity, great companies, and legitimate companies, and I have, you know, I’ve read reviews, I’ve gotten reviews on my website, for heaven’s sake, I’ve gotten tons of reviews on my website, and some of them are good, and some of them are bad about these products. There is no chair that fits the need of every customer in the world, there isn’t. But if you, if all you can read are four and five out of five-star reviews and everybody loves this thing, that’s, that to me is one humongous red flag. And another thing, just while I’m on my soapbox here, a lot of times, these reviews that are given are given at the time of purchase. So, you’ll read reviews like ‘Oh, what a great deal, I can’t wait to get my chair, or oh my goodness, I got my chair, I can’t wait to start using it, or whatever, or I’m still waiting for my chair, or isn’t this great, I’m so excited, but there is no what I call meat-and-potatoes reviews, where it actually talks about the experience of the chair, if it fits you right, if it is too strong, if it’s too soft. If someone has a chair for six months or a year, and it breaks down, and what their experience was with getting support. I get phone calls all the time from customers, especially from a company here in Utah, in particular, because people think that we’re that company because I, my main office is here in Utah, but there’s another company that sells out of Utah, and I get calls about them all the time. Oh, I can’t get parts, they don’t have parts, they won’t, they don’t have any technicians, or the warranty won’t cover this, what do I do? And I just feel sick about it, but these reviews, you don’t see some of these reviews because it’s after the fact of the purchase when people are hopped up on adrenaline for their new chair purchase, they don’t really, and they just, they are all excited. So, anyway, I can’t remember where I was going with that thought, but the idea is, you kind of get a gut feeling, OK, something ain’t right, everybody’s happy about this chair, not one person said anything negative about this chair. Well, that is a huge red flag, so just be careful, be wary of chairs that do everything for everybody, every size, every shape, every condition, every sensitivity to intensity, every person is so happy with their chair, even the best chairs in the world have customers that don’t like them. Oh, I don’t really like how the airbags work, I don’t really like how the headpiece works, I don’t really like, the foot rollers are a little too strong, or the calf rollers, I can’t really feel the calf rollers, or something, or the remote control is too complicated to use, or whatever. There’s always something, even if they love their chair. If you watch some of my video reviews with customers on my YouTube channel, I’ll ask them, I’ll say is there anything that you like, or what do you like about the chair, or is there anything that you would like to see different on the chair? And most people have an idea like ‘Oh, I kind of wish this wasn’t this way or this wasn’t that way.’ There’s always, there’s nobody, there’s no chair that has 100% four and five-star reviews that is legitimate. That is my bold statement for the day. Anyway, sorry to ramble on, I kind of get in to it, and I can’t, the reason these are always at the top of my mind because I get calls about this all the time. So, it’s kind of like top of consciousness for me, and I want people to be careful and beware when you’re out there that you’re not, you know, getting taken for a ride, or that you’re not getting something that is advertised that’s really not that way, or whatever, just please buyer beware.
[SCREEN TEXT: 888-259-5380]
Alan: Well, anyway, that’s about it for this week’s massage chair industry update. And if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 888-259-5380, I’d be happy to chat with you. You can go online and chat with us through our chat feature, you can communicate with me on our YouTube channel. When comments are made on the YouTube channel, I always respond, or on our Facebook page, or whatnot. Just feel free to reach out, we’re happy, we’re open, we’re an open book, we’d love to visit with you, and answer your questions for you, even if you don’t buy your chair from us, we’re quite willing to help.
[SCREEN TEXT: Please “Thumbs Up” Like This Video!!]
Alan: And also, if you found this video helpful, please feel free to thumbs up ‘Like’ us on our YouTube channel, and if you don’t mind spreading the word about massage chairs by sharing this video, or any of our videos, with your family and friends on your various and sundry social media platforms, we appreciate that. Well, I’m Dr. Alan Weidner from ‘Massage-Chair-Relief.com,’ and I will see you again in two weeks. Bye bye.
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