On Warranties and Guarantees

Your warranty / guarantee says a lot about you and your products and shouldn’t be considered some legal thing to what you will and won’t reimburse the customer for when things go wrong.

Your company sells quality products or services right? Shouldn’t you stand behind them as if they were as good as you claim they are?

Let me give you an example. I’m looking for a new messenger bag because my current one has two holes and is starting to break down in other areas. I want something nice, that will last me a more than just four years and I’d narrowed down my search to two bags. The Ogio Hip Hop (in spite of the name) and the Ground Shinumo. I was having trouble deciding between them. The Ogio had pictures of the inside (on various sites) that looked like what I wanted but no reviews and the Ground had great reviews but no pictures of the inside. They both claimed to be durable and to use uber-fancy materials to resist wear, but every bag that isn’t pure crap claims that.

So I thought, “hmm If these are really good bags the manufacturer will stand behind them.” So I go over to their home pages to see. Ground’s warranty says:

Our lifetime warranty guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was intended. Our warranty does not cover damage resulting from accidents, improper care, or the natural breakdown of materials over extended use and time. Defective or damaged products must be returned to us for evaluation (they must be cleaned before you send them). We will repair or replace them at our discretion. We will repair damages resulting from accident or improper care for a modest fee.

In other words, they guarantee they didn’t screw up when they manufactured it and even accidents or improper care “for a modest fee” which probably means whatever it cost them to make your bag. Not bad at all, admirable even, but not spectacular.

Ogio’s warrantee though:

Ogio International guarantees its entire *non-golf line of products for the **lifetime of the product (original sales receipt required). This warranty covers the product for the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship only. If the product ever fails due to a manufacturing or material defect, then Ogio will repair or replace with like product at our discretion. This warranty does not cover damage caused by normal wear and tear, accident, improper use, or the natural break down of colors and materials over time.

**Expected “lifetime” of Ogio products depends on customer usage.

The first thing they do is redefine “lifetime” to be some vague number they can never be held to that is somehow tied to how much you use it, and only applies to the person who happened to pay for it (original owner). You have to keep the receipt for the “lifetime” of the bag and you’re shit outta luck if it was a gift. Accidents, improper care? Tough luck. I especially like redefining “lifetime” in such a way that their support of their products ends up being inversely proportional to how useful the product is. If they make something you really want to use it’ll wear out faster so they’ll support it less. If they make some crap product you never want to use they’ll support it longer. Thus punishing the people most likely to spread the good word about them.

Then there’s L.L. Bean’s guarantee.

Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.

They’re not kidding either. There are many tales of people having returned worn out, beat up bags and things to L.L. Bean and had them replaced, for free, with the current year’s equivalent. Guess which company I want to buy a bag from?

In the end I think I’ll get the Ground bag. I’d love to buy from L.L. Bean but I’m picky about bags and they don’t have anything that really strikes my fancy except maybe this nice sling bag which a co-worker happens to have. Before I looked into the warranties I was really leaning towards the Ogio bag. But now, I’m willing to risk the internal pockets not being exactly what I want because they stand behind their product, whereas Ogio is doing everything in their power to get out of it.

What does your warranty/guarantee say about your company and it’s products or services?