The Enshittification of . . . Couches?

They don't make 'em like they used to.

WSJ (“Your New $3,000 Couch Might Be Garbage in Three Years. This Is Why.“):

The lifespan of your new sofa may be much shorter than you expect.

Instead of once-a-decade purchases, furniture makers and restorers say, couches are becoming more like fast fashion—produced with cheaper materials, prone to trends and headed to the landfill after just a few years. High-quality sofas still exist, pros say, but they are harder to find. Mass-market options, even those that cost over $3,000, are increasingly made with less sturdy materials and construction methods.

Members of the furniture industry don’t agree on a single culprit but say the proliferation of makers, rising price of materials and our shopaholic tendencies all contribute. Expectations for a couch’s useful life now hover around seven years—and sometimes less—save for some of the most expensive models.

Consumers are complaining that their new couch’s cushions are lumpier, springs squeakier and frames flimsier than those of the well-loved models they replaced.

After some anecdotes that shed no useful light on the titular question, we get this:

Furniture makers were inundated early in the pandemic as Covid-19 precautions kept millions of people home. Social-media posts bemoaning new furniture have shot up since then. Mentions of sofas that are low-quality, falling apart or uncomfortable were up 19% in 2023 across platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Reddit compared with 2020, according to analytics company Sprout Social.

The degree to which this is a useful metric of sofa quality is not obvious. Maybe people are more likely to use those platforms than they were three years earlier. Or more likely to use them to lodge customer service complaints. Or, in fact, the quality of sofas has declined 19% over that time.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After yet more tiresome anecdotes, we get this:

Americans have more sofa options than ever. That’s not necessarily to their benefit. 

“It has become kind of the Wild West,” says Adam Rogers, an independent furniture designer in Portland, Maine. “People have to choose between the right aesthetic, quality and price. If they want all three, good luck.”   

This starts to get at a useful answer to the question. Is the proliferation of options driving down the quality? Or is $3000 simply no longer a lot to spend on a sofa, making the expectation that that is enough to purchase a “lifetime investment” piece of furniture unreasonable?

A potentially useful anecdote:

Jeff Boyer and his team of four technicians at Creative Colors International restore around a hundred sofas a year, often through subcontracts with retailers making good on their warranty programs. The most common complaints he hears are about flaking leather, fractured frames and pancaked cushions.  

When it comes to leather, consumers often don’t know what they’re buying, says Boyer, who is based in Frisco, Texas. The “genuine leather” touted on many mass-produced options isn’t a single skin, but a slurry of ground-up slaughterhouse scraps held together with binders and glues, he says. 

Genuine leather is the furniture equivalent of cheap cashmere, pros say. Buyers should look instead for top grain cowhide, which may darken from skin oils over time but won’t flake and fall apart. 

One big advantage of older sofas is their hardwood or plywood frames, says Andy Buck, a professor of furniture design at Rochester Institute of Technology. Many newer sofas use particleboard or medium-density fiberboard, which Buck describes as compressed wood chips mixed with glue. 

“It doesn’t hold a screw and over time it’s very difficult to repair, especially if it gets wet,” Buck says.

The easiest way to suss out your sofa’s skeleton, he advises: Look underneath. You should be able to see if the wood pieces are interconnected with one another in what is known as mortise and tenon joinery. With more brittle couches, those connections are made with an external bracket. Wiggling the arms and backrest is also a helpful test of their stability.  

Boyer says he is getting more calls to fix snapped sofas, especially when the piece has an extendible foot or backrest. “It was a rare thing before, but we are seeing that happen even with some of the upper-end of furniture producers, where people are paying $5,000 or $6,000 for a sofa,” he says. 

Low-density foam is one of Boyer’s biggest pet peeves. Fifteen years ago, cushions tended to retain their shape and comfort for a decade, he says. Now, homeowners ask him for help swapping out the innards in as few as three years. 

What’s driving down the quality of materials and construction isn’t exactly clear. Presumably, some combination of manufacturer knowledge that customers are going to buy based on price and aesthetics over craftsmanship; lack of customer knowledge about furniture construction; and sheer fraud. “Genuine leather” is an obvious scam and should clearly constitute false labeling.

Buck at Rochester Institute of Technology says consumers could be better off spending a few thousand dollars to reupholster a thrift-store find or hand-me-down. “Most often the construction of vintage sofas will be superior to what’s made now,” Buck says.

This, alas, is likely true for a whole array of products. Even relatively simple and inexpensive items like shoes and boots are mostly junk now, even if one buys from a longstanding brand with a great reputation. Partly, that’s a function of new ownership sacrificing craftsmanship for mass production, with little concern for the long-term damage to the company’s reputation. Mostly, though, it’s an understanding that quality goods are competing with “fast fashion” crap from China that can be purchased for pennies on the dollar.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    What happened is that most Republicans believe fraud should be legal and have spent 40 years creating an environment were companies are free to do so with impunity.

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  2. Jen says:

    Buyers should look instead for top grain cowhide, which may darken from skin oils over time but won’t flake and fall apart.

    They should also look for piece-dyed leather. This is when the hide is submerged in the dye, penetrating the skin. It’s much easier and cheaper to “paint” the dye on the top of the hide, but this is prone to scratching that shows as white marks, rather than scratches that can be buffed out.

    Many newer sofas use particleboard or medium-density fiberboard, which Buck describes as compressed wood chips mixed with glue.

    NEVER purchase a sofa with an MDF frame. Yeesh. I didn’t even realize this was a thing.

    One of the things that blew my mind when I lived in Arizona, outside of Scottsdale, for a brief period was how often rich people would decide to redecorate on a whim. The consignment stores in the area were full of good quality, high-end furniture that had barely been used. This included a lot of good sofas.

    I worked at RH for a while and learned a lot about furniture construction. As this article alludes to, “you get what you pay for” isn’t exactly accurate anymore, because people don’t know what to look for, so they assume $$$$=better quality.

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  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    An anecdote to go with an article full of anecdotes: a friend of mine learned how to re-upholster her couch during the pandemic. Then her neighbor threw her a few sheckles to do the same for his couch.

    Now she has more customers than she can handle and is hiring and training two new employees.

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  4. Kathy says:

    If I paid $3,000 for a couch, I’d expect it to endure for ten generations.

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  5. Grumpy realist says:

    I have one of those Togo couches which I bought 25 years ago not realizing it was a designer couch. Yes, expensive, especially since I bought the black leather version. Every now and then I have to redo the upholstery buttons and reposition the leather. But aside from that, it’s going fine.

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  6. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Lol, it’s become absurd how partisanship bleeds into everything. All bad things, like Kevin Bacon, can be traced back to the GoP.

    Anyway, my dad bought a Lazyboy recliner in this hideous shade of yellow back sometime in the 1990’s. After he died my wife insisted on keeping in our basement. I admit, the thing was build like a tank and was still comfortable after all those years, but that color. I finally managed to convince her to let me get rid of it at a garage sale and some college students loved it and bought it. I’m very confident it will stand up to the rigors of college student life.

    Almost all of our furniture is second-hand and it’s of varying quality. I’m not convinced that stuff used to be made better – rather I think that the stuff that has survived until today is the better quality stuff which gives the illusion that things used to be made better.

    Most importantly, the vast majority of people shop on price. You can still get quality furniture, but very few people are willing to pay five times the price for something with the same level of utility.

    Contra Stormy’s obsession with Republicans being responsible for all the supposedly bad things, the reality is the market and the consumer created the incentives and demand for cheap goods, and producers are working to meet that demand. This is basically the opposite of the fraud that Stormy alleges – it’s giving people what they want!

    If you want quality furniture that’s going to last a lifetime, you’re going to have to pay a premium for it. No one is stopping you from spending that money. Or you can go to Ikea and get something that looks similar for less than a $1k and won’t last a lifetime. It’s not Republicans that are forcing people to choose the latter option. There is no magic wand, and there certainly is no political “solution” to this non-problem that Democrats have to make furniture higher quality while not increasing the cost.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    There is no magic wand, and there certainly is no political “solution” to this non-problem that Democrats have to make furniture higher quality while not increasing the cost.

    I fully concur but, laissez-faire as I am, I do think there’s at least modest room for regulatory reform here.

    It’s next to impossible to be a sufficiently educated consumer to stay ahead of scams. Companies ought not be able to market things like “genuine leather” that are the opposite of what the name implies. It’s just not reasonable to expect the average consumer to know that “genuine leather” is leather in name only and that they should be looking for “top grain leather.”

    If I go to Ikea and buy a couch for $300–as I did to have one that might get 5 hours of use a week in our master bedroom—then I have no expectation that I’m buying heirloom-quality furniture. But if I’m at a quality furniture store and see a $3000 leather coach from a name-brand manufacturer, I think it’s reasonable to assume that it’s made of cowhide and that the innards are made of furniture-quality material rather than pressboard. Indeed, even if I flipped my couch over, I can’t inspect the wood frame construction, as a strip of fabric is covering the bottom, making the innards invisible.

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  8. becca says:

    Paraphrasing President William McKinley, cheap goods make cheap people.
    I consider myself lucky that I dislike shopping, because I am always disappointed when I see what’s out there. We have been conditioned to think quantity is better than quality. It’s depressing. And we think nothing of tossing out the cheap crap and filling up on more.
    There was a big box store that popped up in a dying strip mall outside Memphis. The name of the store was Everything is Cheap! . I don’t know if it’s still there, but how sad is that?

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  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    @James Joyner: Yeah. I’m with you on this. How do we, as consumers, determine whether a thing is good quality or bad? My thing is dining chairs. I went through a lot of them that kind of fell apart after about 5 years. My parents chairs are still going and they are 75 years old. So, how do I tell? I can’t tell by price. Price is driven by style, not quality. Assuming quality goes with price is asking to be fleeced.

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  10. gVOR10 says:

    It may not be fair to blame this on Republicans. On the other hand I see no reason to be scrupulously fair about what we blame on Republicans. But much of it is the result of changes in corporate governance over time. Once upon a time corporate managers felt, or at least pretended to feel, a loyalty and obligation to all stakeholders: investors, employees, and customers. Now it’s all Chicago School shareholder value and damn the quarter after next. There’s no point in worrying about a reputation for quality when the benefits will accrue long after the current CEO has cashed out his stock options and bailed.

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  11. Jen says:

    Price is no longer a valid indicator of quality.

    If your salesperson cannot list off a bunch of quality features (such as the mortise and tenon joins mentioned in the article, hardwood frames, and the type of springs–8-way hand tied is the most durable and most labor-intensive; sinuous springs can be decent but really grill them on the durability), thank them and move on.

    Or, ask if they can flip a couch and show you the underneath. If it’s covered, it’s usually just secured with furniture staples–ask if they can remove it and show you. We did all kinds of things at RH, we were trained hard to answer tough questions (one of our sofas was a leather behemoth that was over $8K back in 2003-2004–that’d be a roughly $13K sofa today). We were encouraged to take nails and scratch our leather samples to show exactly what piece-dyed meant. We were allowed to take apart cushions, pull apart the store models, etc.

    Don’t expect Ethan Allen quality for a WalMart price. But also don’t assume that a sofa with a high price means that it’s constructed well. ASK.

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  12. Grumpy realist says:

    @Andy: this is the same problem historians have with clothes and shoes from the Victorian period. It was only the “small out sizes” that survived, because no one else could fit into them (while larger clothing could be taken in), so we’ve ended up with the idea that all Victorian women were petite little things.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    The lifespan of my sofas is a function of hand-eye coordination: how often will I spill coffee, how often will I drop a glob of pizza cheese on leather. Then there are dogs.

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  14. de stijl says:

    Back in the mid 80s I rented an apartment in St. Paul with a built in Murphy bed.

    The concept of a Murphy bed is cool, but the reality sucks. It eats up the same amount of space as a traditional bed would take up. I guess you can sort of hide it.

    A built-in Murphy bed is cool on paper, but dumb in reality. It doesn’t save you any space unless you are really into moving around major furniture at least twice a day in and out of the flop-down zone.

    Having a Murphy bed available taught me that sleeping on the sofa instead was the better choice. Way less hassle!

    A life lesson I’m still grateful for.

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  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: I just replaced my ~5o year-old leather easy chair (the metal frame had finally become unwelded). When my new chair–that I have no expectation or need to last 50 years came–the delivery people needed to install the legs. At which point I discovered that the fabric bottom has a zipper opening that allows access to the “guts” of the chair.

    I don’t know if this feature is unique to this chair, it may be, but I suspect that such features may be common given that this chair was relatively low priced–in fact it was the least costly chair of its kind in the store. If you find yourself buying furniture again in the near future, you might find that seeing the frame is not the challenge you imagine.

    (No, I haven’t checked the frame construction of my new chair. I have no particular expectations for its longevity.)

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    we’ve ended up with the idea that all Victorian women were petite little things.

    Also, consumption was fetishized. The disease, not buying and eating lots of stuff.

    It tended to run in families (probably because they are hanging out with family members who had active tuberculosis), and was circulated in the creative classes and then associated with a certain lifestyle that led to painting and poetry (no one noticed poor people, because why would they?).

    Who are you doing a painting of? Why that slender woman with the wasting disease! So they become disproportionately represented in art.

    And then some scientist discovered the tuberculosis bacteria and everything changed.

    If something similar happened today, I suspect they would have marketed tuberculosis to the middle class as a fashion product.

    (Also, a lot of poets and artists in the Romantic period died of “genius”, which shared the symptoms of late stage syphilis.)

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  17. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Oh, I’m all for requiring full disclosure and accurate representation of a product. I admit I don’t follow the furniture industry at all but I have read a bit about the controversy regarding the definition of “vegan leather” of all things.

    @Jay L Gischer:

    How do we, as consumers, determine whether a thing is good quality or bad?

    This isn’t exactly a new problem. We have more tools and information to evaluate products than ever. Of course, we have more products than ever to. Being skeptical of marketing claims and sales people continues to be the norm – or at least it should be.

    @Jen:

    Yeah, buyers need to do their due diligence, especially if they are going to spend that kind of money. The expectation that some third party is going to ensure a product will have a certain quality level with no effort on the buyers part just seems strange to me. If you’re going to spend $4k+ on a couch and can’t be bothered to use google to read a couple reviews and see if it’s real, full leather or not, then it’s hard for me to have much sympathy.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I see the Murphy bed issue differently. I see as the ability to have that space available for other purposes when I need or want the space.

    Then again, I only make my bed in my current studio when someone is coming or need to rearrange the bedclothes for greater comfort. Putting the bed back into is closet when I get up isn’t even in my playbook.

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  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @de stijl:

    Disagree. We have a 3 bedroom house, with an extra room. That extra room is an office, a craft room, an exercise room and–once or twice a month when we have overnight visitors–a guest room. If we had to have a queen bed in there all the time, I would have no office space, no exercise space, etc. Or all of those activities would be done in our common space. Yelling would shortly ensue.

    Instead, the bed takes up maybe 5 square feet of floor space 28 days out of the month.

    (If anyone’s in the market for a murphy bed, Lori Beds are super cool. We built in some shelves on either side, and most people have no idea its a bed when its folded up. https://www.loribeds.com/products/lori-bed)

    ETA: I realize now after reading your post, you are referring to a murphy bed as the main bed. One you’d have to fold down every day. Yeah, not nearly as useful. I get it.

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  20. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    The concept of a Murphy bed is cool, but the reality sucks. […] A built-in Murphy bed is cool on paper, but dumb in reality. It doesn’t save you any space unless you are really into moving around major furniture at least twice a day in and out of the flop-down zone.

    I beg to differ. Our guest bedroom is an office/library, with one wall occupied by a custom built-in with integral desk, bookshelves, and cupboards. Two of the shelf units pull aside to reveal the Murphy bed, which then folds down perpendicular to the wall. The only floor area you need to keep clear is the footprint where the bed comes down, which is about 1/8 of the total floor space. It’s attractive, functional, space-efficient, and amusing to guests. The bed folds up (fully made) during the day, if you want more floor or want to get something off one of the blocked shelves.

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  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    (Also, a lot of poets and artists in the Romantic period died of “genius”, which shared the symptoms of late stage syphilis.)

    I’ve been listening to a lecture series about the history of the symphony. It’s hard not to notice what happened to life expectancies of composers in the late 18th and early 19th century:
    Mozart, 35, probably a bacterial infection of some kind
    Schubert, 31, syphilis (plus probably mercury poisoning from the treatments)
    Schumann, 46, syphilis / mercury poisoning
    Mendelssohn, 38, multiple strokes (genetic predisposition)
    J.C. Bach, 46, unknown (to me)
    Johann Stamitz, 39, unknown (to me)
    Frederic Chopin, 38, tuberculosis

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  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Andy:

    Contra Stormy’s obsession with Republicans being responsible for all the supposedly bad things, the reality is the market and the consumer created the incentives and demand for cheap goods, and producers are working to meet that demand. This is basically the opposite of the fraud that Stormy alleges – it’s giving people what they want!

    This is EXACTLY the reason I said what I said. In your mind, it’s never the poor corporation’s fault for knowingly selling defective products to grab quick cash before the customers realize the crap they’ve been sold, no it’s all the customers’ fault because they bought a sofa without becoming experts on furniture construction first. And in your mind we certainly should never do anything legally to stop the companies; all we can do is thoughts and prayers and wish on a star that the magical fairy god-market will stop sleazy manufacturers, but under no circumstances should we actually DO anything to stop them.

    You can dress it all up however you want, but your revealed preferences, like pretty much every republican these days, is that fraud is perfectly moral and that the victims actually deserve to be taken advantage of.

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  23. de stijl says:

    I shared an anecdote yesterday about GI distress and related simultaneous pooping and puking.

    Some folks objected fairly hard.

    I thought I was pretty circumspect, all things considered. YMMV.

    Today, we have Mr. Joyner using the awesome neo portmanteau “enshittification” and radio silence from the person who objected is noted. Personally, I’d do one less t at end of “shit” in enshittification. It would make the “shit” bit pop more.

    It’s a portmanteau. Spell it however you prefer.

    Standards, here, are clearly going downhill. I need to clutch my pearls a bit tighter. The gall of Mr. Joyner. I’m aghast at the foul impertinence of such language!

    I may faint.

    Where is my fainting divan?

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  24. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You can dress it all up however you want, but your revealed preferences, like pretty much every republican these days, is that fraud is perfectly moral and that the victims actually deserve to be taken advantage of.

    Ah yes, revealed preferences. Which for you is consistently revealing that you don’t like Republicans, anyone who is tangentially – in your mind – associated with Republicans, corporations, and all the baddies you are consistently quick to point fingers at here. Hence, your first comment in this thread, which is entirely about revealed preference and little else.

    As I said in the part you failed to quote, I’m certainly willing to entertain some regulations WRT companies having to disclose what’s in their products. I’ve also admitted I don’t know much about furniture regulation, so here’s your opportunity to educate me.

    So, is there an actual fixable plan here? Do you actually have any ideas for solving this problem you’re polemicizing about, or is it just more screaming at clouds and the people and ideas you don’t like? Because if the only answer you have is to yell about Republicans and corporations, then yeah, I’m not going to bother to go much beyond caveat emptor when it comes to the consequences of people spending thousands of dollars of their own money on high-end furniture.

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: It’s one of countless words of the year.

    https://americandialect.org/2023-word-of-the-year-is-enshittification/

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  26. CSK says:

    I inherited my sofa and an easy chair from my great aunt, who would be 134 if she were still alive. They’re both in great shape. It’s true that some things aren’t made the way they used to be.

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  27. Grumpy realist says:

    @de stijl: Having lived multiple years in Japan, one easily gets used to unfolding and folding up a futon every night/morning. The one thing that I found was the greatest hassle was airing out the shiki-buton and the kake-buton every weekend because quite often the weather didn’t cooperate.
    This also really only works if you have tatami to put everything down on. Even with the typical foam-rubber mattress also used, there is a definite difference in feel between having everything down on a wood floor vs. having everything down on tatami.

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  28. de stijl says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Yeah it was a 300 square foot apartment.

    The biggest selling point of a Murphy bed is that you can hide it away during the day. (Shh! Our secret!)

    A Murphy bed has what I call a flop-down zone. It’s the area covered by what the bed when fully deployed takes up.

    I didn’t have the patience to re-arrange one third of my living space every night to accomodate a crappy bed. Crashing on my couch was way easier.

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  29. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Andy:

    So, is there an actual fixable plan here?

    From a legislative standpoint:
    1. eliminate companies’ ability to disclaim implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose
    2. eliminate arbitration clauses
    3. increase the ability of the FTC and the FDA to establish minimum standards for products

    From a judicial standpoint:
    4. retailers should be responsible for the quality of the products they sell, not being able to merely pass the buck to suppliers
    5. the current habit of companies making a bold claim upfront, followed by tons of small print essentially walking back or even contradicting the initial claim should not be treated as a defense, but rather an aggravating factor as it is evidence of premeditation on the company’s part
    6. increased restriction of contracts of adhesion on the basis of unconscionability

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  30. de stijl says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    I’ve slept on a futon many nights. Several thousand nights, in fact.

    See your point, here. A futon fully deployed is a bed. During the day it’s a low slung/low sitting sofa. Deploy it fully and it’s a bed.

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  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Neil Hudelson: @de stijl: There’s no rule that I can find saying that you can’t leave the Murphy bed open for as long as you want to, but rather must stow it away every time you arise.

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  32. Jen says:
  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Get over yourself, snowflake! You are a resident master of TMI. Learn to moderate your inclination to provide in-depth stories about your earworms, your experiments in DIY drug therapy, and other stuff.

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  34. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I can’t speak for furniture, but in the business, I know a lot about – telecommunications – some of those might work in a limited way depending on the details, and others would be bad. Again, depending on the details.

    That’s a big problem with regulation – it tends to be complicated, and therefore, the details matter a great deal. My view is that a lot of well-intentioned attempts at regulating outcomes end up being counterproductive because of tradeoffs and regulatory capture.

    For example, on point #2, getting rid of arbitration comes with the tradeoff of making the individual powerless unless they have deep pockets to fund a lawsuit or attract the attention of a class action, which might end up getting them pennies on the dollar.

    Similarly, on point #3, minimum standards only work if you have a testing regime for compliance and the standards are clear, achievable, and focused on what’s important. In my field, I deal with FCC certification and the minimum standards there are about emissions safety and ensuring there isn’t spectrum leakage and interference. They don’t care about build quality, or how long it will last, or marketing terms. There is a lot of cheap crap that gets certified and passes the minimum standards. It’s hard to see how that works for something like furniture. How do you develop minimum standards and a certification process for a dining chair?

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  35. Ken_L says:

    One would think the plethora of ‘product review’ websites would finally have created that perfect information on the part of buyers which economists have always argued is the key to an efficient market. One in which buyers will be able to seek out the best value for money goods based on the collective experience of the crowd.

    But economists may have overlooked the possibility that many buyers are incapable of evaluating value for money, and make their decisions based purely on price. Many times I tried to explain to my partner’s Filipino family that it was much cheaper to buy a two litre bottle of oil, or a sack of rice, and use them as required, instead of going to the local sari-sari store every day to buy a little plastic twist of oil and a cup of rice. But they could never see it. Did I know the price of two litres of oil and a sack of rice? Whereas they only had to spend a few pesos to get what they needed from the sari-sari store!

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  36. Ken_L says:

    @Andy:

    How do you develop minimum standards and a certification process for a dining chair?

    Voluntary codes and award schemes funded and administered by the industry itself are one possibility. See for example https://www.mla.com.au/marketing-beef-and-lamb/meat-standards-australia/ To be effective, they need to be accompanied by marketing campaigns to educate consumers about the product quality categories.

    Another example is potting soils and mixes, which in Australia are often designated as meeting an Australian Standard for either regular or premium products. This is now quite well-known among gardeners, thanks to persistent advertising by the big producers.

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  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    I can’t speak for furniture, but in the business, I know a lot about – telecommunications – some of those might work in a limited way depending on the details, and others would be bad. Again, depending on the details.

    Telecommunications is infrastructure, which is inherently public/private compromise. That’s hard, for sure, especially when you have warring factions in the legislature with very different visions of how it’s supposed to work.

    Sofas… not so much. It isn’t that hard.

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  38. Christina says:

    @Gustopher: @Stormy Dragon: Lawyer much?

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