Electronics have 12 months. Cars have 3-7 years depending on the manufacturer. Kitchens are 2-5 years again depending on the manufacturer. In fact most purchases, be it big ticket or less have a relatively short guarantee length. It’s because these products are likely to be well used, so to stick a decade or longer guarantee on them would seem to put the manufacturer at a disadvantage. Yet here we all are giving everyone ten years or more on windows and doors that are also going to be used day in day out.

Backed into a corner

The guarantees our industry offers is way longer than any other product I can think of. The positive spin most would put on that would be that it shows confidence in the products we sell to be able to put such a long guarantee on them. I agree to a certain extent, but when you consider that assuming windows and doors are well looked after, they should last at least three times longer than their average guarantees, so it becomes less impressive.

For me, the guarantees themselves have become a selling point, which is dangerous. I see our local competitors giving out slightly longer guarantees on their products on ours, despite the fact that I know their quality really does not match ours. This I think sets a dangerous precedent.

The guarantee itself should not be used as a marketing ploy to help land a sale. They should reflect honestly on the quality of the product being sold. Yet, after years of spin and a desperate need to land a sale at all costs, our industry has backed itself into a corner, with decades long guarantees now the norm.

Lifetime guarantees?

I really don’t like the sound of these at all. There are one or two companies offering this sort of “benefit” when you purchase their products.

To start with however, with any lifetime warranty you can expect a shed load of terms and conditions to ensure that there are very few circumstances in which this lifetime guarantee is actually valid for the lifespan of the window or door.

Also, does a manufacturer really want to invite that sort of pressure on itself? Would they really want to incur the extremely long term costs that this sort of thing brings with it? I suspect not, hence why only a few have gone out and tried something like this.

Again, it comes down to the point that lifetime guarantees are being used as an added extra, rather than something that accurately reflects the quality of the product.

We already give guarantees on our products far longer than any other big ticket item. This sort of thing brings more risks than it does benefits.

Chances of honouring that guarantee

As I observe our local competition in their race to the bottom, I often wonder if they will be around long enough to see through their extended warranties. With most of them undercutting each other, I suspect not. And all of this combines to leave a sour taste in the home owner’s mouth.

It’s all well and good offering 15-20 year guarantees, but if you’re not going to be able to stick around long enough, what’s the point? The home owner goes ahead thinking they’re protected, to later find out that the business has disappeared. They think “typical double glazing” and it does the reputation of the industry no good.

I really hope that our industry resists the race to offer the longest warranty or lifetime warranties, as they’re really not needed. We already know that our products are more than capable of last three, perhaps four decades, providing that they’re looked after. I don’t see why we should be putting ourselves under pressure to pay for repairs and remedial work for the same length of time.

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