In the business world warranties can be the difference between ease and the comforting knowledge of having coverage or they can mean legal torment and anguish while you are stuck in coverage purgatory.
To avoid the latter scenario it is essential that you not only understand your warranty, but also choose one that best suits your needs.
So, are warranties all the same? In a word: NO!
Warranties are like snowflakes – no two are identical. Warranties vary in length of time, who is issuing them, and who (most importantly) does the equipment appraisals and makes the decision on whether or not something needs to be replaced.
Warranties can be as short as 30 days (for your electric toothbrush) or as long as three years (for your big pieces of electronic equipment such as Xerox machines). The length of the warranty should always correspond with the expected lifetime of the product.
Chances are you do not want to make a large investment in an expensive item if you only have 30 days of protection to find all the kinks and work them out. It’s not a coverage-to-dollar ratio that breeds confidence. A standard manufacturers warranty is 90 days and some companies will allow you to buy longer coverage, which you should check to make sure has the same coverage stipulations as the original warranty.
Once you have established how long the warranty lasts it is time to see who it is being honoured or held by.
Check out the company/manufacturer/3rd party who holds the warranty and make sure they are reputable and that there have been no mass-complaints about their service. Chances are if there have been major problems with other clients you will experience them too.
Find out who decides about repairs under warranty (ex. Xerox lets the customers have control) and what is included in warranties where the equipment is being leased and needs regular maintenance.
The best way to avoid any unpleasant warranty surprises is to read the contract thoroughly and ask questions about any point you think is ambiguous or unclear and have the contract amended (in writing) to clarify.
Make sure you understand what problems the warranty will cover and which it will not. For example, does the warranty cover cosmetic problems as well as internal software issues? Is there a clause that specifies that if the damage was the result of human error that the warranty does not cover repairs?
Though warranties offer a certain amount of protection to you and your product they also create a lot of grey areas where each party can end up finger pointing at the other saying that it is their responsibility to fix the problem.
Do yourself and your company a favor and avoid this massive headache by sitting down with the contract, highlighting any problems or confusing passages and addressing them before anything is signed, sealed or delivered.
Treat warranties with as much care as you would insurance for your home or car and chances are your company will not have an issue with coverage or getting repairs done when they are needed – just read the fine print!
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