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Why A Longer Warranty Doesn’t Always Mean Much

Written By: 
Marc Blitstein / President & CEO

Warranty coverage can, and should, be an important consideration when making a purchase decision, particularly on bigger ticket items where replacement costs are relatively high. But, buyers beware - a warranty isn’t always worth the paper it’s written on.

1. Check the company

First and foremost, you need to know a little something about the company issuing the warranty. What good is a lifetime warranty if the company issuing it won’t be around to honor it? We find it a bit ironic to see extraordinarily long warranties on products from companies that, themselves, are just a few years old. While that argument could have been made about ADC three decades ago (and most likely was by some within the industry), we’d like to think our thirty years of service have erased those concerns. While a company’s youth shouldn’t always be a red flag, it shouldn’t be ignored either. We’ve seen a dozen, or more, companies in our industry come and go over the years leaving their customers stranded. So, do some research on the company behind the warranty before you make your purchase.

2. Read the terms

Look at the actual coverage provided by the warranty. Many companies post their warranties on their websites or will provide a copy on request. There might be so many exclusions - the fine print as it’s often called - as to make the warranty fairly worthless. We’ve seen some lifetime warranties with fine print that limits the actual parts covered, the frequency of coverage, and requires the covered party to send the request along with a postage paid envelope, which could add weeks to your downtime. Kind of diminishes the value of that impressive sounding free parts for life program, doesn’t it?

3. Weigh the cost

Does the warranty coverage make economic sense? Many, if not most firms assess a nominal charge for return postage and handling. That’s normal. We’ve noted lots of companies that offer lengthy, even Lifetime warranties on products with a very low MSRP, but impose handling fees that are often almost as high as the full replacement cost of the product. What good is a lifetime warranty on scissors costing $4, if the company charges you $3.50 to actually service the product? Not much I’d argue.

4. Quality matters

Finally, don’t confuse warranty duration with product durability. Aneroid sphygs are often covered by lifetime calibration warranties. That sounds great in principal. But, how valuable is it if the product needs service every couple of months?

ADC is a leading manufacturer of core diagnostic products. Our products are covered by some of the industry’s most comprehensive warranties. Since 1984 we have been making (and servicing – generally without charge) our products. Share your thoughts on your warranty experiences with us in the comments below.