Friday, April 29, 2016

"Warranties Relate Directly To Trust And Believability"

Warranties are not what they used to be. At one time, a company would guarantee that their product would perform for as long as a person owned it. They would essentially stand behind their workmanship. Occasionally, the product would be replaced. This, in turn, built immeasurable amounts of customer and brand loyalty.

Then, along the way, the limited warranty came into being. Now, product were warrantied or guaranteed for just a certain period of time or for certain uses only. Household products were specifically cautioned against being used commercially and were not warrantied for such regular or intense usage.

Some products had longer time periods associated with them, such a one-year, two-year, or three-year warranty - as if the manufacturer only built them well enough to survive that specific period of time. There are so many instances where people report or experience their product breaking literally within days of the expiration of that limited warranty.


Then, the thirty day warranty came into being where products had virtually no assurance by the manufacturer or retailer that they would continue to perform as intended once the consumer actually opened the box and began using the item.

Some companies would only agree to stand behind their products if a warranty card was returned to them (originally by mail and then later online).

Occasionally, there still are items that can be obtained that offer a "lifetime warranty," but this raises an interesting question. Is the lifetime being guaranteed the projected serviceable life of the product or the lifetime of the owner - and presumably anyone who inherited it from them? Hard to say but more likely the first application. Even here, there is a potential issue. What if the original manufacturer or the company hired to service those products by the manufacturer is no longer in business, or there are no more parts being manufactured for that product? 

As consumers, we often purchase items - or pass on a similar item - depending on the warranty it has or fails to have. This is especially true with appliances, vehicles, and homes.

However, in order for the warranty to be valuable and meaningful to us as the consumer, we have to believe that the product being purchased is built to very high standards in the first place - making a trusted and reliable brand name all the more important. In essence, the warranty in such cases is unnecessary or superfluous because we expect to get years of service from that item or know that if there is an issue it will be handled by someone at some level.

So, as aging-in-place providers that offer products for installation and use in our clients homes, or we create and install renovation solutions, we need to be reassured that the products we are using and recommending are ones that we can stand behind. Our clients won't look initially to the suppliers or manufacturers of those products but to us. They know and rely on us - they don't have any relationship with the people we purchase from or whose products we use.

People are reasonable and likely will have reasonable expectations of product performance. They know that items often aren't built as well as they should be. Still, it falls on us to establish a trust relationship with our clients where they will know that we have installed everything well and how we intend to handle such issues when they occur.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.