Warranties or guarantees as they are otherwise known as, have been the bedrock of consumerism in the modern age.
A warranty( I will use the term warranty for this article) gives the buyer a promise of quality, longevity, convenience, and service. They also show that the seller or manufacturer has confidence in their products, and are willing to show that confidence by way of free replacements, repairs, servicing, shouldering shipping costs, etc…,
When we delve into the specifics of the goods we buy under such warranties, we find that the length of them varies from 3 months, to 3 years, depending on the goods purchased. In an exceptional case, we have houses( in the UK), which have a 10 year warranty.
Most electrical goods come with a 1 year warranty. (TVs, cookers, vacuum cleaners, microwaves etc.., Also electronic goods such as: cellphones, computers, tablets, cameras, etc.., More expensive items such as cars, motorbikes, boats, and the like, come with 3 year warranties.
It would seem that our friendly neighbourhood retailers have decided that they no longer need to make us customers promises, or at least not the same promises they have been making for the last several decades. 7 day to 6 month warranties have suddenly appeared on the paperwork which accompanies our goods. As we move to a more throw-away society, so the retailers have followed suit. People are changing goods with increasing regularity. Not because the goods are becoming faulty or no longer functional. It is because we want the latest model, models with more features, or we want to keep up with our friends and neighbours.
Once upon a time, the average kitchen or household appliance was built to last 5 years on average. People would take out extended warranties so they could have peace of mind for the life of their appliances.
As the cost of these appliances and associated goods has fallen, they are being replaced more frequently. This in turn has prompted manufacturers and retailers to reduce the warranties to match consumer behaviour.
But when were we told about this? Maybe it is written into in some government or business document buried in the archives.
The point is, that we, as consumers, have been hijacked by this change of policy.
Recently I was shopping for a router for my home network and went into 2 different stores. The results for exactly the same device were completely different. One store told me that I get a 1 year warranty, and they would replace the item if faulty, whereas the other store gave me a 6 month warranty, and told me they would send the unit for repair if it became faulty.
How can this be?
I will tell you how.
Many stores and retailers are now setting their own agendas because they are well aware that most consumers nowadays, especially each new generation of consumers, are not au fait with warranty and guarantee law (apathy is the main reason). They return faulty cellphones and tablets, and are completely fine with the 7 day return period (7 days being: if it becomes faulty AFTER 7 days we will send it off for repair, but under 7 days, we will replace it).
7 days is nothing!! My device should work for more than 7 days without me having to go through the process of having it returned
or sent to a service centre or manufacturer for repair.
REPLACE IT!!! I HAVE ONLY HAD IT FOR A WEEK!! (I have just paid $1,000 for it!!).
Upon hearing from the retailer that they are going to be without their cellphone for possibly 1-2 weeks, most go into a panic, even to the point of buying a replacement. This plays right into the hands of the manufacturers and retails who, rightly in their minds, know we, the consumers, no longer fight for, or care too much about our consumer rights.
Unless this attitude among consumers changes, the days of 24 hour warranty will soon be upon us.