Thursday, November 22, 2012

1100 The Guarantee

1100 The Guarantee

The cliche goes “nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  Another variation:  “nothing is guaranteed but death and taxes.”


There are actual guarantees out there.  The most famous, and shortest is from the Lands’ End division of Sears, “Guaranteed.  Period.”

But, of course, most guarantees and warranties have between ounces and tons of fine print.

The $10,000 Martin Guitar?  They’ll fix it free only if you can prove you’re the original owner.  That’s an ounce of fine print.

The warranty on your new Kia or Lexus?  Get out the magnifying glass.

Now, the stunner, discovered only on Thanksgiving Day.

The Sunbeam baster that cost 97 cents at the supermarket is warrantied “for life.”  No questions asked.  No proof of purchase.  Just send it back and they’ll replace it.  Or so they say.  No “original owner” nonsense.  No disclaimers.  No exceptions.

Of course, there’s implied fine print.  For example, whose lifetime?  If you wrap one up for your three year old as a stocking stuffer (why would you do that?) and 70 years from now, the rubber bulb develops a leak, will Sunbeam honor its warranty -- assuming there still is a Sunbeam then.  Does the “lifetime” apply to the owner or the item?  If the latter, what is the expected lifetime of a 97 cent plastic and rubber baster.  Hard to find some actuarial tables on that.

Also, it will cost you at least 97 cents to ship the thing back for repair or replacement.

While on this topic, do you really think companies like Timex or Mr. Coffee have little old repair shops with little old Mr. Fixits to make repairs? Nah.  That’s a heavy duty personnel cost.  It requires capital investment for equipment and training.  It requires a big, populous and efficient mailroom.  You send, they toss.  They replace.

Then, there’s the Men’s Wearhouse situation.  George Zimmer, founder and a nice Jewish boy from New York appears in his commercials which mostly end with his saying “You’re going to like the way you look.  I guarantee it.”  Can you believe a guy who works in the rag trade in HOUSTON?  Probably.  Anyone try to find the terms of that guarantee?  Probably.  Anyone know the result?  Probably not.


--I hate to say bad things about people I like and who at least up until they see this liked me.  But the narration for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sounds like it was written by a joint committee of superannuated Brill Building song pluggers and over the hill, fear-crazed Madison Avenue types who hate one another.  And, understandably, the read sounded like it came out of the mouths of the parade of the wooden soldiers.

--Getting with the program.  This post is going up about six or seven hours earlier than usual so you have something to read while you stand on line awaiting the 12 or 4 or 5 or 6 am opening of Macy’s or Best Buy or JC Penney.  However, we’re not reducing the price, which some say even for free costs too much.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

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