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Monday, August 24, 2015

Do you pay attention to warranties offered on products?

In recent weeks, I've made a couple of purchases that involved warranties. We think of warranties as being applicable to purchases of major household appliances or our cars. But many smaller items are also carrying warranties these days.

One was on my set of bedsheets. On the package, it's stated that these sheets have a 5-year warranty. I've not seen this on sheets before. Also, recently, I bought a stick vacuum, to use in place of a broom and dustpan for the hard floors of the house. (I know -- a broom is much more frugal, but my aging back doesn't like to bend over very much any longer, so this will make my work easier, which means the floors will actually get cleaned more often.) The stick vac that I bought has a 2-year warranty. Several years ago, at least 10 years ago, I bought a set of pillows that carry a lifetime-warranty. And a few years back, I bought LED lightbulbs which carry a 10-year warranty.

I save all of the warranty information, along with receipts to prove date of purchase and purchase price. But so far, I've not needed to use warranties on these non-major appliance purchases. So, what good are these warranties doing me, anyway?

Well, I think a product that offers a decent warranty (beyond 30 or 90 days) is more likely to be made better. Manufacturers don't want to put a warranty out there if they know their products are produced shabbily. It wouldn't be cost-effective, is my thought.

And it seems that I'm not the only one drawing this conclusion about quality of product attached to either a longer than usual warranty or in some cases, actually carrying a warranty when similar products don't. I've been researching water heater replacements. One article I read said to go for one with a 12-year lifespan/warranty, over the 6 or 9 year models. In a comparison of actual products, where their engineers took apart various water heaters and assessed the quality of materials as well as craftsmanship, the 12-year models were made of substantially higher-quality materials than the models warrantied for shorter time periods. That's a good reason, in my book, to go for the longer warranty. It's not that I think I'd need to use this warranty, though it's nice to have it in place. But I'd prefer to not deal with a failure on my water heater, for as long as possible.

With my new stick vac, for the class of appliance I bought (mid-range, not super cheap, not uber-expensive), it has a pretty long warranty. Other stick vacs that I looked at had a one-year warranty. Those short warranties tell me that the warranties basically cover "lemons" which fail pretty early. A longer warranty indicates that a certain level of craftsmanship, design and materials are maintained in production.

Sometimes, it isn't even the higher-priced versions of a product that carry the better warranty. In regards to the sheets I bought, these were the least expensive California King-sized sheets that Bed, Bath & Beyond carried. There were more expensive Cal King sheet sets in this store, that didn't have any sort of warranty.

And it isn't enough that a product carry a warranty. I also have to think, "how will I use a warranty on one of these less expensive products/small appliances?" With a major kitchen appliance or automobiles, we all know how to find the manufacturer's customer service departments. But with a set of sheets how will I access the customer service for these items?

The sheets that I bought were specifically made for sale through BB & B, so I would likely go through that store-front. If I didn't feel I had a readily available, access-point to the warranty, then that warranty might not mean much to me.

To be clear, I'm not talking about those additional purchases of extended warranties, sold on kitchen appliances and electronics. Those are often managed by a third party, and don't indicate any '"extra" quality in the product that you've bought. They just give you peace of mind, should your appliance breakdown prematurely. But I don't feel that these types of warranties imply any sort of product quality.

Anyway, these recent purchases have had me thinking about warranties on products that I never would have thought would carry a warranty. Today, a warranty on sheets. What's next? A warranty on socks? Wouldn't that be something, if a company introduced a pair of sports socks that were warrantied for 5 years, to not get holes in the toes or heels. I think I'd try a pair of those. One of my daughters wears panty hose, and she burns through each pair quickly. How about a pair of panty hose that carried a warranty for 1 year. I think she'd buy those.


  1. Do you remember years ago, there were panty hose that didn't run? I don't think they were around for long because the weave of the fabric was not as comfortable as the regular ones and they didn't look as good. However, each pair did last a long time. I don't really know. Maybe they're still around somewhere.

    I do look at warranties for the same reasons that you mentioned--quality of product and rarely have had to use them. I do save them, but my filing method is kind of haphazard. Straightening that out has been on my to do list for a while. Maybe when the weather turns cold.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I remember hearing that in the Soviet Union they had panty hose that didn't run and light bulbs that didn't burn out. I would sure like a few of both of those.

      My method of keeping warranties isn't the greatest, just a file folder with warranty info from packages clipped to the receipt. I save boxes in the attic for items that would require me to ship my product back to a factory/repair (like my mixer). I figure that's all I'd need. Organizing that all does sound like a good cold weather activity.

    2. What I remember of the NO -Run Panty hose is that although they did not run they dis develop snags and looked disgusting in short order.

    3. Panty hose are EVIL!!!! Runs or not. Sorry... just had to get that in...

  2. I keep all of my warranties/owners manuals in a three ring binder. Each warranty has its own plastic sleeve page protector along with the receipt. It makes them easy to find when I do need something. I still have the ones for my food processor and hand mixer which I rcvd as wedding presents in 1989, so 26 years. They have long outlived their warranties and are still going strong. I even accidentally dumped the hand mixer in the dish water one Thanksgiving day and it is still running well. I like your idea of the longer warranties meaning higher quality products. My Mom's blender, which came from Kmart in the 1960s is still running after all these years.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      You have an excellent system for keeping all of your paperwork. It sounds like its' so organized and everything would be right where you need it, when you need it. Good job!

  3. Wow. It would never occur to me to look for a warranty on something like bed sheets. Of course, I think I've only purchased one set new in my entire life - ironically they fell apart in a few years while the ones I got for a few dollars at the thrift store are still goin' strong!

    Anyhow, you make a good point about warranties, though my experience in trying to use the darned things is mixed at best. When CatMan bought me a tablet for my birthday a few years ago, it developed issues within a week or two, and I was glad I could send it back to the manufacturer to be fixed. It was still a major hassle though, and took weeks of filling out forms, getting special return codes, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    When I had steel siding put on my house 15 years ago after a hail storm took out the aluminum stuff, I went for the kind with the "lifetime warranty." So in the past few years the siding on the south side of the house started to peel - apparently even baked on paint can't hold up to the massive temperature swings it sees in that location. Anyhow, I pulled out the warranty to discover that a) it only covers the product, not the installation, b) "lifetime" means 20 years (I guess they don't expect people to live very long?) and c) the amount they'll pay out diminishes with each year that you've owned the stuff. After doing the math, I calculated that if I was really lucky I might get $50 out of them. Totally not worth the hassle! Grrrrrr....

    Sooo... I guess I sorta have mixed feelings on the topic! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      I was as surprised as you that sheets could carry a warranty. I'm am hoping this means they will hold up well for me.

      Your thrift shop sheets probably have a bit of polyester in them. I had some cotton/poly blend sheets that lasted at least 40 years (from my childhood), then we gave them away as we were changing color schemes and cleaning out the linen closet. Those things lasted and lasted.

      Now that's a bummer on your siding. I always wonder about those roofs that advertise a "lifetime warranty". Hmm, maybe they aren't as great as they sound in adverts.

  4. I especially take note of extraordinary product warranties like lifetime, longer than the usual 1-2 year types. My husband bought a set of RIGID portable tool set that came with a Lifetime Service Warranty from Home Depot, 10 years ago, and through the years he's had numerous repairs and battery replacements from a local RIGID service center (this is his main tool used on the job for all those ten years.) Now that his set is very old, he could have had the entire set replaced except one catch, he needed to turn into the service center every tool that came in the original set (but sadly he gave away one tool in the original set to our SIL, who also had a similar RIGID set, but his tools including the tool my husband gave him were stolen several years ago.) Because we lacked that one tool, we have to continue to repair. But I think at this point, it is probably more cost effective for the manufacturer to just replace brand new.

    Warranties like these are great because I think it is win-win, shows the dedication and care of the company to produce high quality products. Not only do they care about customer satisfaction, they want to know how the product fails, and by servicing the product through its lifetime, they learn a lot from the repair records on how to improve future quality and design.

    Then there are warranties, like the EcoCatLady described (sorry to hear about that warranty), where the warranty is not worth the ink that's used to print "Lifetime", except to get your attention thinking the product must be better because of the warranty. Same with those warranties that don't back service but only parts (especially when the part may cost 50c). Or those where you have to ship the product back on your dime.

    I love warranties, often buying the product extended warranty, our laptops, tablets, Kenmore refrig, Sears treadmill, all had 4-5 year purchased warranties. Also I consider the double manufacturer type warranties when purchased with credit cards. I've exercised this with VISA, was a bit more trouble because I have to prove product failure by having it serviced. But once confirmed, I got my original price paid refunded.


    1. Hi YHF,
      that reminds me of Sear's Craftsmen tools. I think those are/were warrantied for life. You got a great deal for your husband's tools that he used daily!

      I have mixed feelings on purchasing extended warranties. They don't do anything to guarantee better quality of the product, but on the other hand, they do provide peace of mind.

      When we bought new appliances for the kitchen, we asked around about which appliances tend to have the highest premature failure rate. The biggest was dishwashers, so we did buy the extended warranty on that, but skipped the extended warranty on the stove and fridge. And we did buy the extended warranty on my daughters's computers, as we had numerous problems in the first year with one of them, and could buy the extended warranty anytime in that first year. And now, she hasn't had one single issue since buying the extended warranty! I think there's still another year left on that warranty, though, and a lot can happen with a computer in just one year.

  5. I wish I had bought sheets with a warranty. One set I bought made it through about a year of washings and then the elastic in the fitted sheet lost all its elasticity. I know I could easily replace the elastic, which I did, but it had a cost plus time. I will look for a warranty on the next set I purchase.
    When I was in my 30's my parents had to have a door gasket replaced on their basement refrigerator. It was purchased a few months before I was born and Dad had saved his warranty. Turns out it had a 35 year warranty on the gasket so they had it replaced for no cost. It pays to save them and use them.

    1. Hi Anne,
      now that would have irked me. A set of sheets should still be in good repair after just one year.

      That's some warranty your parents had on that fridge. So great that they could get the gasket replaced at no cost, after such a long, long time. We had to have one of the gaskets replaced within the first year of owning our current fridge. The other gasket now needs replacing, and it's long out of warranty. I'm looking into doing the work myself, and just ordering the part.


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