Review & Rating
4831 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Footnotes:1. The company represents that it offers a limited lifetime warranty on its faucets, but a careful reading reveals that it is actually a 5-year warranty that does not apply to "the replacement of components where damage is caused by . . . lime scale [or] aggressive water conditions. . ." We are not certain what constitutes an "aggressive water condition", the term is new to us.2. The Alfi warranty appears to offer a lifetime guarantee on finishes to the original buyer, but the language is ambiguous.
This Company In Brief
Alfi sells faucets made in China over its own websites and on sites that host small retailers such as Wayfair and Amazon. The company has not gone to the bother of having the faucets certified to the standards required by law in the U.S. and Canada. In consequence it is not possible to tell whether these faucets are safe, reliable and free of lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxic substances that are found in Chinese-made faucets.
Alfi Trade, Inc. is a California corporation owned by Eldad Alfi and his father Aaron, chartered in 2007. It is primarily a sink company, selling imported sinks under its own Eago and Eago USA brands. It sells faucets as a complement to its sinks, but faucets are a fairly minor part of its overall business. Eago sinks are imported mostly from Israel and Italy and its Alfi branded faucets from China. Both the Eago and Alfi brands are registered.
It sells over the internet, including through its proprietary website, owned by Blue Bath, Inc, a company organized by Eldad Alfi in 2014. It also sells at websites that host small retailers including Amazon and Wayfair.
Its faucet manufacturers include:
• Guangdong Mischa Stainless Steel Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd., which makes most of Alfi's kitchen faucets, and• Cae Sanitary Fittings Industrial Co. Ltd., an manufacturer that provides additional kitchen faucets and most of Alfi's bathroom sink faucets.
Some of Cae's contemporary faucets are designed in Italy by Itamar Harari of Slide design, a noted Italian design firm, but they are not Italian faucets, as Alfi customer service agents sometimes claim. They are Chinese faucets, some of which are designed in Italy. Cae is also well known for casting its faucets from DZR brass, an alloy that resists a chemical degradation process called dezincification. We do not know if DZR brass is used in Alfi faucets.
There may be other manufacturers. Alfi buys some products through a Chinese broker that may represent other faucet factories. However, the contribution by other Chinese manufacturers does not appear to be more than minor.
Alfi's faucets are neither designed expressly for nor unique to Alfi. They are out of each supplier's and routinely sold by Alfi's Chinese manufacturers to other importers in the U.S. and Canada. Cae, in particular, manufactures faucets for and are available from outlets that sell these brands.
Alfi's line of faucets is heavily slanted toward contemporary styles. Only a few are traditional or transitional in design. Its finishes are limited: bright chrome and brushed nickel on its bath faucets; chrome, nickel and stainless steel for its kitchen faucets. Not all faucets are available in all finishes. The available finishes depend largely on which Chinese manufacturer made the faucet.
The cartridges used in the Alfi faucets made by Cae are from Kerox, Kft, a Hungarian manufacturer of very good to excellent ceramic cartridges that are favored by a number of European faucet brands.
Alfi's other Chinese manufacturer, Mischa, prefers a cartridge from Sedal S.L.U., a company chartered in Spain, but manufacturing in China. The Sedal cartridge is a favorite of Chinese manufacturers making faucets for the European and North American markets. We judge it to be a good cartridge that should give reliable service for many years. However, if you have a choice, opt for a Kerox cartridge.
Alfi's wholesale websites, Alfi Trade and Alfi Brand are designed roughly the same way. Navigation used to be a little mysterious until you realized that the key was the link to "Menu" displayed unobtrusively about a third of the way down the page, which opened up the site's navigation links. Once you figured this out, navigation became generally intuitive. The menu has now been moved to the top of the page, which makes the whole process more obvious. Site search is effective and individual faucets are easy to find.
BlueBath.com is Alfi's retail site and its navigation is more traditional, with a menu bar across the top of the page. The site is a sanitary wares retail store selling Alfi Brand products along with a assortment of inexpensive faucets from other importers of Chinese and Taiwanese faucets and some good to excellent faucets from major brands such as lesser know but reputable companies.
Alfi also sells its Alfi brand faucets at web sites that host small business such as Amazon and Wayfair. There are serious problems with these on-line hosting sites. All of them sell black- and gray-market faucets that have not been certified safe, reliable and lead-free to North American standards. Such faucets are illegal to sell in the U.S. and in most of Canada.
Despite the promises made by these sites to protect customers by refusing to sell contraband products, they do not do much to investigate the legality of faucets and protect customers against the sale of potentially dangerous illegal faucets.
This lack of vigilance makes these sites attractive to black market sellers. Well over 70% of the faucets offered for sale on Amazon are uncertified and, therefore, illegal to sell or install in North America. The fact that most of these black market faucets are Chinese in origin makes them of heightened concern because China has very loose standards in general and no lead standards at all.
Lead poisoning is epidemic in the Peoples Republic (see sidebar), in part because the government denies that lead poisoning is a problem. Uncertified faucets have not been tested for lead, so the likelihood that that these black market faucets contain dangerous levels of lead is very high.
Our most recent survey of Alfi retailers also found the faucets being sold by Build.com and its related faucet retailer, Faucet.com, both Ferguson Enterprises companies that cater primarily to consumers. Ferguson itself is principally a supplier to the trades and does not sell Alfi faucets. Typically these sites are more careful about selling anything illegal to sell, hence our astonishment. We have asked Ferguson for comment, but have so far not heard back from the company. Once we do, we will amend this report.
The Alfi warranty is below par for North America. The company promises a limited lifetime warranty "against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship", but takes it away again in the very next line that reads: "Mechanical components are warranted against defects for 5 years from the original purchase date." The term "mechanical components" is understood in the faucet industry to mean the moving parts of a faucet, that is, the parts that are most likely to develop problems. After subtracting the mechanical components, the only parts of the faucet protected by the lifetime warranty are those least likely to prove defective: finishes, body, baseplate (if any) and spout. Not much protection.
Additionally, the warranty does not apply to "the replacement of components where damage is caused by . . . lime scale [or] aggressive water conditions. . ." We don't know what constitutes an "aggressive water condition" — and the term is not defined in the warranty — but it sounds rather ominous.
We view the warranty as a essentially 5-year limited warranty and rate it "far below" the North American standard "limited lifetime" warranty. It is certainly not a ringing endorsement of Alfi's faith in the durability or longevity of its faucets.
There are two basic approaches to warranties in the faucet business. The first approach tries to reduce the cost of warranty service to its irreducible minimum and insulate the company as much as possible from liability for a failed product. This is the bean-counter approach, the tack favored by accountants and chief financial officers. This describes Alfi's warranty exactly. The other, and better, approach is to use the power of a good warranty to drive sales — figuring (correctly) that any additional cost of providing a first-class warranty will be more than offset by additional sales revenue that a first-class warranty generates.
This is the Moen approach. Moen, one of the first major faucet companies in the U.S. to offer a lifetime warranty on its products, figured out early that a good warranty and strong back-end support would substantially increase sales on the front end. It worked. Its warranty helped boost Moen from a little-known bit player in the 1950's to the second largest faucet company in the U.S., behind Delta Faucets, by the 1970s. (The companies are now neck and neck for the top slot, each having about 30% of the U.S. faucet market.)
The loyalty of Moen customers is legendary. It is nearly impossible to talk a Moen customer out of a Moen faucet, shower or tub filler — not that we try. Alfi needs to take a leaf from Moen's play book and start looking at its warranty as an opportunity to build sales and forge customer loyalty rather than strictly as a nuisance liability to be minimized as much as possible.
Faucet Listing CertificatesA faucet "Certificate of Listing" is an actual document that to be valid contains the following minimum information:
- A unique identification number,
- The name of the faucet company being certified,
- The brand name of the faucet line (if different),
- The faucet's model name and/or number,
- The standard or standards to which the faucet is being certified,
- The organization issuing the certification, and
- The expiration date of the certificate.
The certificate allows a faucet to be positively identified. A plumbing inspector or interested homeowner can look at a certificate and tell without question whether a particular faucet is listed.
If it is not listed on the certificate by manufacturer and model name or number, then the faucet is not certified no matter how fervently the faucet company insists that it is. It's as simple as that. To be certified a faucet must be "listed" in a valid certificate.
All of the various telephone numbers used by Alfi and Blue Bath route to the same automated answering system. Customer service is sometimes hard to get in touch with. Long hold times are typical. After about three minutes, the automatic answering computer will give you a choice of leaving a call-back message. If you leave a message you will get a call back, usually within 24 hours. Once you get a customer agent, you will usually get your question answered. Agents are knowledgeable about Alfi faucets and generally cordial and helpful..
Alfi Trade does not have a Better Business Bureau rating, but its associated retail sales site, Blue Bath, is rated A+, the BBB's highest rating. The company is not BBB accredited. It is, however, a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and has agreed to abide by that organizations code of conduct which, among other matters, prohibits deceptive statements about the company's products.
Alfi routinely identifies its faucets as in compliance with the joint U.S./Canadian mechanical safety and reliability standards (ASME A112.18.1/CSA 125.1) and the North American lead-free standard (ANSI 61/9). However, none of the seven accredited organizations that test and certify faucets to North American standards have ever heard of Alfi faucets.
When we telephoned Alfi about the apparent lack of certifications for Alfi faucets, we were initially assured by a customer service represent that they were "UPC certified" and fully compliant with all North American standards. But when we insisted on a certificate number, we were given a number that turned out to be a Uniform Product Code registration, which has to do with the assignment of retail bar codes and absolutely nothing to do with standards certifications. So far, after several requests, the company has been unable to provide us with or even identify a listing certificate for an actual standards certification.
North American faucet standards are tough — some of the most stringent in the world. Their aim is to protect consumers against potentially dangerous materials and shoddy manufacturing by ensuring that faucets do not contain toxic substances and are minimally safe and reliable. No one, not even an experienced industry professional, can tell by looking at a faucet, or a picture of a faucet on a website, whether it is free of lead, mercury and arsenic, or whether its cartridge will be leak-free over the long run. Extensive testing and certification is needed, precisely the testing and certification that Alfi has not done.
Fully certified, safe and lead free faucets made in China and Taiwan that are comparable to Alfi include any of the following: If you are in the market for an inexpensive Asian-made faucet, one of these suppliers might be a better choice than Alfi. All sell faucets that are known to be certified safe, reliable and lead free, and authorized for use in U.S. and Canadian water supplies. Some may not be especially good faucets, but they are at least safe faucets.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Alfi faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.