2012 blogpost warranties

How Warranties Work: What is a Warranty?

How Warranties Work:  What is a Warranty?

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I've been told to break my posts up into smaller pieces, and I want to give this topic thorough, understandable coverage, so this is the first of what will be many small posts (over 10!) on warranties.

The Problem with Warranties

Suppose Oswald buys his flooring from a retailer (like us), who offers it with a manufacturer’s (where we get it) warranty. He hires installers, who provide guarantees. His floor is installed, and then he sees a big problem with it – there are bigger gaps than there should be between the planks. Oswald speaks to the installers, and they say that they install flooring all the time in the same manor with no problems, so the flooring was badly manufactured. Then Oswald contacts the manufacturers, and they say that their flooring is fine, that products from the same run have been installed elsewhere with no problems, and they blame the installers for improper installation.

Waranty Comic

What is supposed to be protecting Oswald right now is called the warranty,

in his case at least two different ones. That there are two may seem like a problem in this case, but it doesn’t have to be. In the U.S., warranties are mostly really great things, especially since 1975, but not everybody understands how they work, or when they apply with this guy vs. when they apply with that guy. I’m going to go over them, kind of at length, but in a way that I think could help for the rest of your shopping life - not just with flooring, but with cars, paint, blu-ray players and bananas. Yes, even bananas.

What Are Warranties, Exactly, and Where Do They Come From?

[caption id="attachment_2394" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A Wanamaker's Guarantee Tag"][/caption]

John Wanamaker, famous for pioneering the department store in Philadelphia in 1877, has a number of other firsts to his credit. He opened a restaurant in his store in 1876, had electric lights by 1878, in-store elevators in 1889, and is credited with inventing, among other shopping concepts, the “White Sale.” Unusual in his time, his employees were treated with respect, and were offered on site recreational facilities, free medical care, paid vacations, profit sharing plans and pensions. None of these were standard (some still aren’t) for decades. Another first was that he guaranteed – in print – the quality of the things he sold. Three years before converting his business into the department store of fame, he published the first store advertisements to ever be copyrighted. They cited facts and made promises, including money back guarantees. What surprised people was that he kept his word, and when he did, that earned him trust that never went away. His business took off like a rocket.

Wanamaker's headline

That promise we can call the first warranty.


A warranty could also be called a guarantee. Basically, it’s a contract between the seller and the purchaser of some product, committing the seller to the promise that the product will work properly, and if it fails to do so, that it will be replaced or repaired, or the buyer will be given either credit or a refund. That much you probably already knew.

What you may not have considered is that a warranty can do as much to protect the seller as it does the buyer. By listing what is covered, for the most part all that remains is agreed to be not covered. Also, there is no law requiring how long a warranty must last, or even that any written warranty actually be provided. No one really has to do it, though even this doesn’t mean that the seller is free of all responsibility for the quality of the products sold. There is a law governing how a warranty is to be handled if one is provided. It was passed in 1975, and is called…


The full series:

pt.1: What is a Warranty

pt.2: Which Law Governs Warranties

pt.3: The Express Warranty

pt.4: Implied Warranty #1

pt.5: Implied Warranty #2

pt.6: Full and Extended Warranties

pt.7: The Limited Warranty

pt.8: The Caveats (the “bewares”) 

pt.9: Used and “ As Is” Sales 

pt.10: Who is Responsible?

pt.11: How Warranties Work: Who is Responsible? The Installer? The Shipper?

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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with  W. David Lichty


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