True “Lifetime Warranties” make for happy customers

via True “Lifetime Warranties” make for happy customers,

Thirty-five years ago, my Dad and Mom gave me a special gift for my 15th birthday. It was a shiny new Buck knife, complete with a leather carrying case, rosewood handle and beautiful brass accents. I treasured that knife, and used it for years. But over time, the brass began to fade, and the blade grew thin from sharpening, so it wound up in a drawer. Last year, I found it again and threw it into my camping box, where I had also stored a battery-operated lantern. The battery compartment had come open at some point, and the batteries leaked acid all over the brass, making it bluish in color.

I tried desperately to restore the shine to the brass, but with no luck. Going online to look for a solution, I noticed that people had talked about how Buck products have a Lifetime Warranty, and there were many reports of Buck accepting old knives for cleaning and refurbishment. So I sent the knife to them, eager to see the results. When I got the knife back about six weeks later, I was amazed. Although I knew it was my knife because of the markings on the wood, I would otherwise think they had just sent me a new one. The brass now gleamed like a mirror, the blade replaced, and even the wooden inlays on the handle were polished.

Once upon a time, companies stood by their products. The good thing is that many companies still do, and that’s part of the reason they have the reputation they do. For example, companies like Hammacher Schlemmer, Otterbox, L.L. Bean and many others are famous for going above and beyond to stand behind their products.

When you buy a product with a “lifetime warranty”, it’s important to understand what this means. In the case of Buck and other companies I’ve mentioned, it usually means the company will repair or replace the item. However, consumers are often confused by the term, as it’s used with varying degrees of truth and meaning. For example, whose life is it talking about? Is it your life? The life of your home or car? Many products, such as roofing shingles, come with a lifetime warranty, but in the fine print, the company may disclose that the warranty is not transferable when you sell your home.

There is longstanding point in federal law about lifetime warranties that reads, “If an advertisement uses ‘‘lifetime,’’ “life,” or similar representations to describe the duration of a warranty or guarantee, then the advertisement should disclose, with such clarity and prominence as will be noticed and understood by prospective purchasers, the life to which the representation refers.”

So, I’d like to hear your stories about outstanding service on lifetime warranties, or perhaps cases in which they didn’t quite live up to your expectations.Drop me an email or use the comments section.

This story and others show that there are still great companies out there, standing behind their products. To Buck, I say “kudos; you’ve made me a very happy customer.” But if you’re depending on that lifetime warranty –especially for products with a big investment involved — you should read the fine print, and when in doubt, check it out.


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