Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

Buyer beware : Dangers of lifetime waranties

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Chris Davis  under Creative Commons License

Image by Chris Davis under Creative Commons License

As a consumer, I love the idea of buying a product once and having it forever. Thats what makes a manufacturer product lifetime warranty so attractive. Often  these products are sold at a premium because of this additional coverage, but is it worth it? 

The answer is maybe but more often than not... NO! The problem is that the term lifetime doesn't have a legally recognized definition when it relates to a product. It can mean:

  • As long as the manufacturer makes the product (same SKU)
  • As long as the manufacturer makes parts
  • As long as a retailer carries the item
  • As the estimated useful life of the product as defined by the manufacturer
  • etc

In addition to the confusion list of definitions for "lifetime", often times the lifetime warranty is non transferable, only available to the original purchaser (requiring the original sales receipt).

Some manufacturers do provide honest and reliable lifetime coverage like RedOxx (my favourite luggage manufacturer).

As time rolls a ceaseless course, only the genuine guarantee remains. The mountains will persist, the oceans are bound to endure and Red Oxx will continue to be rugged, reliable, and tough. To the depths of the Amazon basin to the peaks of the Himalayas, Red Oxx Manufacturing is infallible. Our products are guaranteed forever, be sure to include them in your will.
— Jim Markel, CEO RedOxx

With RedOxx, as long as you have a "real" product (aka not counterfeit) and you ship it back to them, they will repair or replace damaged luggage. A real warranty shows the manufacturer is confident in the products they are selling. Sure their products cost more but this is often a result of better build quality (as is the case for RedOxx). 

Moral of the story is don't buy something just because they advertise  a lifetime warranty. Make sure you read the fine-print and really understand what you are buying.   Sometimes it really does provide peace of mind while other times it is nothing more than  puppet show to trick you into spending just a little bit more of your hard earned money.

  • Always read the fine print and make sure you understand the contractual language.
  • Never accept a verbal commitment from a salesrep. Everything should be in writing. 
  • Make sure the verbal explanation matches the written agreement.
  • Investigate the retailer or manufacturer. Are they financially stable? What kind of reputation do they have? Any complaints with governmental consumer protection departments or the Better Business Bureau?
  • Pay with a credit card when possible. In some cases credit cards offer additional warranty or a mechanism to reverse the charges  if your product doesn't perform as advertised (or if you start seeing strange charges).