Sunday, March 19, 2006

Unconditional Guarantees and Lifetime Warranties

Every once in a while, I wind up buying a product from a store that offers an unconditional guarantee or lifetime warranty on every product that it sells (e.g., stores like Hammacher Schlemmer or L.L. Bean). They're a dying breed.

In 1999, I bought a women's rechargeable electric shaver from Hammacher. About a year later, the AC adapter started to malfunction. I had to move the cord 'just so' in order to get the darn thing to turn on or recharge. Well, towards the end of last year, I finally got fed up with the temperamental beast and decided to purchase a new one.

About 2 months after I purchased the new shaver, I was browsing the Hammacher website for some gift ideas, and I stumbled upon their lifetime warranty. So, I decided to send them a friendly email, to see if they could help me replace the AC adapter for my old shaver. Within 2 days, I received a response from a customer service rep in Ohio. After a couple of email exchanges, she was able to look up my order in the system using my old street address. Although they no longer carry my old electric shaver, she said that she would still try to locate an AC adapter for me. If they had one in stock, it would arrive in 5-7 business days. Otherwise, the part would be shipped directly from the vendor and it would arrive in 2 weeks. Now that's what I call customer service!

Too bad I didn't think to contact Hammacher before I purchased the new shaver. Ah well. It's nice to know that some stores will still stand behind their lifetime warranties. Admittedly, these stores usually charge higher prices, so you're not exactly getting a bargain. But given the trend towards shorter manufacturer's warranties on the one hand and expensive extended warranties on the other, sometimes it's worth paying a premium in exchange for some great customer service and peace of mind.

No comments: