So I have a question for anyone who cares to give an opinion. I have my own business. Custom window treatments (blinds, shutters, that sort of thing). I discovered yesterday that one of my manufacturers is closing their doors. I can find product elsewhere — no problem. However,
the product they supplied was covered by a limited lifetime warranty. Basically, “if your _____ ever breaks, we will fix it”. I really emphasized this when selling this particular product. It’s rare that there’s ever a problem that falls under the warranty because the quality on this product is so high. Usually when things go wrong, it’s because the customer’s dog chewed on something or the kids hung from the window treatment. Because those things don’t fall under the limited warranty, the customer would need to pay for repairs and so I can get a different company to handle that if I need to.
But what do I do if someone calls with a problem that should be covered by the warranty? The warranty was issued by the manufacturer. As the dealer, am I obligated to pay for repairs? Or do I just say, “I’m sorry, but the company that built your ____ is no longer in business. Yes, it was a shock to me, too, but businesses do close even though we’d rather they didn’t. I’ll be happy to find someone to make your repairs, but there will be a repair fee involved.”
I’m at a loss to know what my legal, moral, and ethical obligations are here. My business reputation is my best advertising and I don’t want to do anything to damage that, but I also cannot afford to shell out big bucks on shutter repairs “just to be nice”. Appreciate any thoughts ya’ll may have.
5 thoughts on “”
Warranty Repairs are the albatross of my existence. I wish I could offer some help but alas were both small business owners in the same boat. It’s gotten so tough that I sometimes dont bother to offer a warranty if they dont ask for one.
Wait, I just had a thought…it wouldnt help for past warranty problems but if you have your own warranty you should add a clause that says manufacture warranty as long as they are in business. …naturally, youd have to word it better than I just did…and it wouldnt help for past stuff…but it might be helpful for future. We have an extensive warranty which says we will cover problems for 5 years…but then we go on to exclude all the conditions that people come up with to stick you with thats not your fault. Our warranty protects us more than the buyer really. Then we have a clause on our proposal that says signature on this proposal affirms contractural agreement with Warranty statement and Terms of Sale.
I always specify (in my computer business) that it is a manufacturer’s warranty. I have an added bonus though…computer companies usually own patents, which means even a worthless computer company gets bought out rather than disappearing, so coverage generally doesn’t just dry up and blow away.
I’m not a lawyer, but I can tell you that your moral obligation to your customers depends on what you promised them. If you made it clear that the manufacturer (of the product you were re-selling) has a limited warranty, then it’s clear that this is an agreement made between your customers and the manufacturer. If you had implied that you were vouching for this company in some way, then you should do whatever you can to see your end through.
Either way, I think most of your reasonable customers will understand that this company going out of business will make things hard on both you and your customers (as well as their former employees) and reasonable people will try to be accommodating.
I never thought about it, but I wouldn’t hold it against the installer if the mother company goes under…