Sunday, February 8, 2009

Manufacturer's Warranty – Is It Worth The Hassle?

You buy something, and it breaks a few months later. What do you do?
It depends on why it stopped working:

1) There is physical damage. For instance if your camera fell into a pool, or got ran over by a truck etc. In such a case there is usually no warranty coverage, although sometimes the company will replace the item anyway (See Corelle below). If something breaks during the first 90 days after purchase, and you bought the item on your Amex card, you're in luck! You can easily get the money back from American Express.

2) The item just stops working on its own. When this happens, the manufacturer's warranty should kick in.
When this happens, some people like to wait till the year is over and deal with Amex (which is usually a breeze). You generally should try to deal direct with the manufacturer, unless you know that it will be really difficult. In any event, if the item broke a few months after purchase, why should you wait till the year is over to get your item fixed/replaced?

Warranty Coverage:
Is it worth all the hassle and time, to try to get your item replaced, or should you just buy a new one yourself? Well, the answer is, it depends. It depends on the company you would have to deal with. I have had experiences from extreme to extreme. From a company sending me out a brand new item after one quick phone call, to the suitcase that supposedly came with a 15 year warranty, but when the suitcase broke and I tried claiming the warranty, I was told that I need to ship them the suitcase at my expense in order to get a replacement! Shipping the suitcase would cost the same as buying a new one! Needless to say, I just threw it out.

These are the different ways companies handled my warranties:
1) Sent out a replacement after one quick phone call. No need to ship anything back.
2) Wanted proof of purchase first. Like a fax of the receipt (kind of makes sense).
3) Made me send in the product once I received the replacement.
4) Made me first send in the item, but they paid for shipping.
5) Made me ship the item at my own expense before getting a replacement.

Some companies are so bad, it's almost as if they are telling you that its not worth it to claim a warranty again. Which in my mind translates to: Next time think again before purchasing their product. I usually don't mind shipping the item, and even paying for the shipment if its not too expensive, but sometimes they just draw it out so long and just make it one big headache. After the first phone call to a company, you can usually get an idea how much of a headache it will be.

Here are some of my experiences with different companies that come to mind. When I remember more, I will post them. I rated each experience from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and 1 being the worst. I tried keeping the article semi short, so if you want more details on a specific company, send me an email.

Canon - Camera: Had to first ship them the broken camera, and pay for shipping. Canon then fixed/replaced the camera. All in all it was pretty simple and straightforward. Rated 4.

Commercial Electric - Lightbulbs: I called, and was immediately sent out new bulbs. Rated 5!

Correl - Cups: Some of our cups fell and broke. They shipped out new cups after one quick phone call. Amazing customer service - they did not need to replace the cups, as I doubt their lifetime guarantee is meant to cover cups falling on the floor... Rated 5!

I-Robot - Roomba: Great experience. It did take some time on the phone though. Rated 4.

Jabra - Bluetooth Headset: I had to send in old unit, they then shipped me out a replacement. I wasn't too impressed with the time it took. Not sure if I would do it again. They made me fax things to them a few times. If I remember correctly, I also had to ship the headset on my expense. It was kind of long and drawn out. Rated 3.

Logitech - Headphones: They made me fax in the receipt, but I did not have to send in the old headset. All in all it was pretty simple, although I do remember spending quite a bit of time on the phone with them. Rated 4.

Motorola: From what I remember, it was great. They just sent out new parts after one quick phone call. Rated 5.

Rockport - Shoes: Their policy seems to be: Send in your old pair of shoes, and they will send you a new pair. I think I once sent them shoes without a receipt as well. You have to pay to ship the shoes to them. Rated 4.

Note: From my experience, don't bother with the store you bought the shoes from, unless they have amazing customer service. Better just go straight to Rockport. I've tried dealing with a online store, I think it was, and they didn't want to replace the shoes, so I just shipped it back to Rockport and got my replacement.

Sprint - Cell Phone: I called Sprint technical support, and after two minutes of telling the Sprint rep that I tried all their 'solutions' to try and fix my phone, he sent me out a free new phone.
Actually, they wanted to send out a refurbished model, so it took some convincing to get a new model instead. Rated 4.
I have Total Equipment Protection which includes warranty service.

Uniden - Cordless Phones: They have an interesting warranty program: They make you pay $10. They then send you a refurbished system, and you don't need to send back the broken one. They even let me choose any phone system they currently had in stock! (From the refurbished models). Although it cost $10, I was very happy with the service. Rated 4.

Waterpik - Showerhead: Great customer service! One quick call and they sent me a new showerhead! Rated 5.

These were my experiences, yours may differ. But it does gives somewhat of a picture as to the company’s customer service. You will have to decide how much your time is worth. When to go after the warranty, and when to just throw the item out.

Some people may consider shipping the item back to the manufacturer difficult. But it's really pretty easy. I will be soon writing up a article on how to ship things real easy. In the meantime, read this post on shipping with USPS.

Related article: Replacing My Lightbulbs


Anonymous said...

Great post! You can dedicate a whole site just for users to post their experiences with companies warranty's.

Anonymous said...

You mention the Irobot Roomba, how is it?

Anonymous said...

check out for great customer service reviews. said...

Mendel: Thanks. Good idea...
Benny: I love my Roomba! Maybe one day I'll write up about it
Anonymous: Thanks for the tip

Anonymous said...

Great post!!

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