Product Warranties

The shoelace on my son’s shoes before replacement

How often do you buy an item, throw away the receipt, and end up kicking yourself a month later when the product breaks? That used to be me, but two recent events have changed my mind about finding a way to organize those receipts.

Let’s talk first about my son’s shoes, my 7 year old son is a monster when it comes to shoes. Little man has a condition that causes his ankles to turn in, this means that he tends to wear the inside sole of his shoes into holes within weeks. My husband and I grew tired of buying him a new pair of shoes every 4-6 weeks. We tried cheap shoes, expensive shoes, very expensive shoes, shoes with extra arch support, shoes with flat soles, even expensive orthotic inserts to put in the shoes. A friend suggested Keen shoes, which run around $60 (GASP! For kid shoes!) but promised that he’d outgrow the shoes before he wore them out.

As it turns out the soles on these shoes are AMAZING. Unlike most shoes today the soles of the Keens are solid, requiring a lot more abuse before they wear out. The problem, we found, wasn’t the soles and long story short, at 6 weeks after purchase a hole developed between the shoe and the toe and the shoelace was worn thin.

I went to the Keen website and learned that Keen offers a 30 day warranty on all of their shoes and lifetime shoelace replacement. My son’s shoes were two weeks out of this warranty period but I contacted them anyhow and explained the situation. I got an email a week later with a coupon code good for a new pair of shoes, enough to upgrade his shoes from partial toe coverage to full coverage (it’s a Keen thing) and shipping costs!

I’m now a Keen buyer for life. No other shoe company we contacted offered any kind of warranty or replacement program. Sketchers did offer to look at the shoes and decide if they were defective but there was no promise of replacement and I had to pay all shipping costs.

Now, to my phone. I have an Android Bionic that I adore, perhaps a little too much, and because I drop things (frequently) I bought a top-of-the-line Otterbox Defender case for it for $36. This case is supposed to protect the phone from drops, brief water immersion, even being run over by a car. The Otterbox Defender case also comes with a 1 year warranty against defects.

Three months after I bought the Otterbox I was annoyed that the silicone outer case was stretching, it no longer fit nicely over the camera and was coming loose at the edges and the flap that covered my battery charging port was torn. One day I removed the silicone case and managed to break a clasp on the inner plastic case while trying to pry it apart so I could clean the screen (stuff still manages to get in there, go figure).

I went to the Otterbox website, filled out a claim form and submitted photos of the damage and 24 hours later I received an email with the shipping information for my new Otterbox!

In the instances above I was able to save a significant amount of money by asking for replacement products instead of trashing them and buying new. Before filing a warranty/guarantee claim with the company consider the following:

-Do you have proof of purchase?
Both of my purchases were made online but this didn’t pose a problem. I told the companies the date and place of purchase and neither company asked for further proof.

-Does the warranty/guarantee require you to ship the purchase?
If yes you need to consider the cost of shipping versus the cost of replacement.

-Do you need a replacement product immediately?
If yes considering returning the product to the store or buying a second product to use immediately and save the replacement for future use.

-Was the damage caused by something you did or misuse?
Warranties and guarantees only protect you against defects discovered during normal use. I’m sorry to tell you this but don’t expect Apple to replace your iPhone when you drop it (you can try crying but it doesn’t work and don’t ask me how I know that) I also wouldn’t try running over your phone just to test the strength of the Otterbox.

-How much of a hassle is the claims process?
Keen and Otterbox have a very simple claims process that can be done online. In the past I’ve talked to companies that didn’t make returns and exchanges very easy, in one nightmare case it took me nearly a year to get a recalled/defective stroller replaced and they replaced it with another defective/recalled model.

-Does the warranty cover complete replacement or partial?
I had a new battery installed in my van 13 months ago and it recently died. The battery has a conditional warranty with full replacement up to 18 months and a graduated partial replacement between 18 months and 5 years. The warranty required us to take the battery, still in the vehicle, to the place of purchase for replacement and no, it didn’t cover tow costs. Thankfully we were able to get the battery going again, but if we hadn’t it probably would have been cheaper for us to buy a new battery and install it ourselves rather than pay to tow the van to the place of purchase.

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2 thoughts on “Product Warranties

  1. Actually just had an awesome experience with my hubby’s Fit Bit. I thought I checked all of his pockets, but apparently not. While folding a load of clothes straight from the dryer his FitBit magically appeared. It of course was dead after going through the washer and dryer. He contacted them and within 10 days he had a brand new one shipped to him. Completely our fault and they still replaced the costly gadget. That’s great customer service!

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