Branch Standing Desk Review
- First Look
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Branch Furniture splashed onto the scene as a brash alternative to the traditional contract furniture dealer, hoping to attract small business customers who aren’t savvy enough to do their own research into far better alternatives that can be found online. They sourced a standing desk from China that is utterly bottom-drawer in quality and design, and priced it where you can buy a top-quality, fully-featured, American-made standing desk. Most customer disappointments start with damage in shipping due to the particleboard desktop and insufficient packaging. The next hint of poor quality is the pre-drilled holes not aligning with the frame. But you better not count on that 10-year warranty because in the fine print it says that motors and electronics are only covered for three years. That’s pure marketing fraud in our books.
|MSRP / List Price||$699|
|Street Price||Scan for available discount deals|
Free 3-7 day shipping across contiguous US
10 years on frame
electrical, dual motor
0.5″ per second
Touch keypad with four memory presets
48″ x 30″
Desktop: Woodgrain, white, walnut, fog
Melamine and particle board desktop. steel frame
Height range: 25″-52″
275 lbs (minus weight of desktop)
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Where to buy||
Buy on Branchfurniture.com
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||The base is very heavy, giving it good stability at lower heights. It has a top-end height range of 52 inches, great for tall users.|
|Negatives||The base is the slowest we have ever seen in a decade of reviewing electric standing desks, moving at transit speed of only one-half inches-per-second and featuring no standard features you’d expect at this price range like anti-collision or anti-tilt. The desktop is made of extremely cheap particleboard and melamine laminate that gets easily damaged in shipping and quickly starts to droop in the middle, delaminate and get dinged up. Poor quality control makes assembly difficult. Poor design makes it hard to mount certain ergonomic accessories or manage cables.|
Lipstick on a Pig
Having reviewed many dozens of standing desks over the past decade we have generally organized them by price tier for easy comparison shopping: super economy desks under $400, value desks under $800, and premium desks above $800. As a rule of thumb, you generally get what you pay for in terms of quality and features for the money, as one would expect.
On Branch Furniture’s website they have a comparison table that touts their $699 Standing Desk as being equally comparable to a $1,495 “premium” standing desk. This kind of marketing spin certainly seems to have fooled a lot of customers, but to experts who’ve actually tested countless desks from countless brands this comparison is beyond laughable, it is downright fraudulent.
The Branch Standing Desk wouldn’t qualify for a decent score in the under $400 tier, much less in the $400-$800 tier.
A Flair for Marketing Copy
We have to hand it to the marketing team at Branch, who can take something like a dirt cheap particleboard desktop with a dirt cheap melamine laminate and describe it as an “Impact resistant melamine top in four colorways”. That’s a very fancy word, there. Colorways. We’ve never seen any other office furniture seller use the word “colorways,” that’s got to be worth $75 right there alone.
For being “impact resistant,” the number of customer complaints about shipping damage to this commodity-grade desktop is kind of breathtaking. The complaints about pre-drilled holes not lining up with the screw holes in the base are another indicator of the total lack of quality assurance in the Chinese factory.
In another copywriting masterclass example, the next marketing bullet point is “No coffee spills: dual low-decibel motors for a smooth, quiet raise.” At least it’s truthful in that your coffee will not spill, and the movement of the desk is guaranteed to be quiet. But, that’s not because it’s some fancy advanced linear actuator technology being employed.
The desk moves up and down smoothly because the spindle threads in the lifting columns are so closely spaced that its transit speed is a glacially slow 0.5” per second. That means you’ll be sitting there holding your finger on the button for 20 to 30 seconds to change from sitting to standing position. At least three times longer than a premium standing desk’s transit speed. And less than twice as slow as any other electric standing desk we’ve ever lab tested. Ever. That’s some premium quality desk there.
A Fraudulent Warranty Claim
We could go on and on with things we find troublesome with the Branch Standing Desk, but we were stopped dead in our tracks by one deceptive marketing tactic that just crossed the bright fraud line: the warranty.
Promoted throughout the site is Branch’s “industry-leading” 10-year warranty. Now, a lot of standing sellers play games with carve-outs in their warranties, especially when it comes to desktops. It’s become so bad lately that we’ve had to write an entire primer on How To Compare Warranties Between Standing Desk Manufacturers (which we highly recommend every standing desk shopper read before buying).
Reading the fine print in Branch’s standing desk warranty, it turns out that it isn’t a 10-year warranty at all. The motor and electronics — the only things a consumer would really care a whit about in a standing-desk warranty — are limited to just three years. So in case a weld breaks on the heavy steel frame, you’re covered. The odds of that are infinitesimally slim. The odds of the cheap motors or electronics burning out before the 10 years are up are pretty high in our experience with these commodity-grade Chinese bases. And if that happens, you’d be out of luck.
What Happened to the High-Touch Model?
When Branch first launched as “Bureau Furniture” with $2.4M of fresh new venture capital funding in late 2019, they reached out to our editorial team, touting their business model as a bold new alternative to contract-furniture dealers. They planned to launch their offering market by market, starting in New York City, with a highly-curated line of ergonomic office furniture, and a “high-touch” focus on the customer.
The business plan was to go after small to medium sized businesses with a lot of service. They would help businesses with their space plan, figure out what desks, chairs, file cabinets and other accessories they would need, deliver it, install it, and even haul away the old junk. All for a much lower price than any Herman Miller or Steelcase dealer could come close to.
They certainly stuck to the “highly curated” product offerings part of the business plan. The high-touch portion of the plan seems to have been cut back just to NYC — where the company is based — perhaps made too difficult by COVID.
Without those service built-ins, the prices on these products turn out to be pretty high. And the quality of those other furniture products, which now include even fixed-height desks, doesn’t look much better than on the standing desks. Cheap Chinese imports at premium prices.
The company does offer on-site installation anywhere in the USA as an add-on that’s really no different than going to TaskRabbit or ThumbTack to book an installer yourself. All they do is outsource the job for you.
We’re really disappointed to see how Branch Furniture has evolved its business model. Everything that they proclaim to be different between themselves and contract-furniture dealers is what’s different about all e-commerce sellers and contract-furniture dealers, except for the small, overly-curated selection of products and the inflated Manhattan prices. To the degree the high-touch services might still be available, it’s limited only to the New York City area.
The marketing sure is slick and they seem to have taken in a lot of customers with it. Branch is certainly enjoying significant growth in market share both in the USA and in Canada. The company does appear to be quite successful by all outward appearances.
But you, dear reader, are not an unwary consumer. You search for expert reviews and that’s why you know that it’s time to move on to find a better bargain. Check out our complete roundup of the top-rated standing desks move along with your journey of discovery.