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Warranty, returns, and replacements.

Lorainfurniture

1,289 views

Warranty:

Do whatever you want with this one, but think about this:  I can go buy a new washer with a 1 year warranty for $400.   Why would I pay $200 for a 20 year old washer with a 30 day warranty? My recommendation is a minimum of 90 days, with a maximum of 1 year.  I currently sell all of my pre-owned appliances with a 6 month warranty.  I also have a "refurbished appliance" section which is the same exact merchandise, tested in the same manner as my pre owned stuff, just they are always 100% complete, and typically less than 10 years old.  I give a 1 year warranty with those products.  

"1 year warranty!? are you crazy?! You are going to put yourself outta business!!"

 Ive heard that shit so many times, I literally laugh all the way to the bank.  Adding more warranty is the only way you can add VALUE to your merchandise without adding dollars.  A dryer with a 30 day warranty is $100, 6 month warranty is about 175, "refurbished, with 1 year, now you can compare to new, and ask $250+.  So what if you got to go out there once and put a $6 thermal fuse in.  That extra $150 you made off of the same unit just paid you for your service call.  All those extra $150's will cover that occasional $200 control board you get stung with. 

The bottom line is this: You should be fixing, and expecting these units to last your customers a minimum of 3- 5 years, so whats the problem? 

 

Your warranty should be basically unconditional. You can put a clause for flooding, roach infestation, commercial use, but you can't tell your customer that their warranty is void because you suspect a power surge, or because you think they are over loading/ over using it. That sounds shady, and there is no real way you can prove it.  After you pull the sock out of the pump, tell the customer " this time ill cover it under the warranty, but if it happens again Ill have to charge you".  The customer will understand, and be grateful.  Same thing goes with a thermal fuse.  Tell the customer the vent is clogged.  Fix the unit, leave the vent disconnected and tell them not to use it until they get the vent cleaned.  You never want to give the customer the impression that you are trying to weasel your way out of your warranty.  As far as I'm concerned, the hard/ expensive part is driving to the customers house and diagnosing the problem.  You would really lose your customer over a 5 dollar thermal fuse?  A 3 dollar coupling? Fix the shit and move on with your life.  

 

    I require the customer to keep a copy of their receipt.  I TELL THEM WHEN THEY BUY THE APPLIANCE that they need to keep the receipt for the warranty.  This does give you an out, if they lost their receipt.  Occasionally you will get a real ass-twat, and you can say " Ma'am, you need to find a copy of your receipt, and as soon as you find it, give me a call and ill come right out.".   This is not really something you should be doing, as you will lose this person as a customer, and they will talk bad about you and your company as long as they can remember.  I can honestly say I pull this card maybe once every other year. 

 

You don't need to verify the warranty before you go out.  Simply ask them: What does the date say on your receipt?  If they say they bought it X months ago, they are likely telling you the truth.  In my experience , about 95% of the people who call for warranty work are completely honest about it. Reciept or no receipt, fix the unit, make the customer happy. 

 Remember that date you wrote on the back of the appliance? This is how I know how honest people are.  Now you know roughly when they bought it, if its reasonably within your warranty, receipt or no receipt, fix the unit and move on.  You will earn that customers business for life, and that is worth a hell of a lot more than that $3 coupler.  Even if its a few months out of the warranty. If the part is in your car, fix the customer's machine.  Its not fair that you sold someone a machine for a few hundred dollars and it only lasted 8 months.  I understand that legally you don't have to do shit, but morally speaking, you should do it.  That customer will be your customer forever, and their kids too. They will also tell all their friends/ neighbors about you.  They will become your best spokesperson for your store.  

You will find that most of your warranty work is going to be a result of misuse, neglect, improper installation, or other issues with the house that would prevent the appliance from working properly.  About 70% of my service calls are tripped breakers, reverse polarity, rotted floors under the front load washer, you get the picture. You have to SHOW the customer the problem, and offer to come back after the problem is solved.  They will never call you back.   About 20% is stuff that I missed at my shop, and the other 10% is legitimate failures.   My usual Defect rate on all of my appliances is about 10%.  Thats 10 in every 100 appliances that I sell.  Lately I have been really slacking, so my defect rate jumped to 20%.  That works out to about 5 calls per week.  It doesn't seem like much, but they never come in that consistent.  Its more like 1 month with no warranty calls, and then the weather gets warm and you have 30 in 1 week. 

 

Replacements:

Inevitable part of business.  Sometimes that Atlantis trans will agispin, the fridge compressor poops out.  Alway replace the unit with a BETTER unit than what you sold them, Even if only by a little.  The customer will be pleasantly surprised, cementing your relationship with them.  Further, replacements become priority.  Making the customer wait 1 week for their replacement washer will only succeed in pissing them off, and this has no benefit to you.  Replace it quickly, apologize, and forget about it. 

Returns.  

If a customer buys a machine cash and carry, and returns it for whatever reason the same day, take it back.   I have an " all sales are final" policy, but sometimes its better to just avoid the conflict.  This applies a bit more for when people put deposits on stuff, or when they buy something and haven't taken possession of it yet.  Just give them their money back.  After they take possession for more than 24 hrs, the warranty applies.  

Asshole customer from hell that keeps breaking every appliance you send them:

You will get one of these people once a year, for sure.  After the second replacement, the only way out for you is to pick up ALL of your merchandise, and give the customer a FULL refund, including delivery.   Im convinced that some people are cursed, and are destined to never have working appliances.  You don't have to be in a relationship with them.  Some people are so ignorant with the use of their units you wonder how they survive in life.  Give them their money back and never do business with them again.  You walk a way the good guy, they can't say anything bad about you because you did the right thing.  

 

In conclusion, Warranty/ replacement/ refunds should not be looked at as terrible.  Look at it as an opportunity to prove to your customer how reputable of a business you are running.  Some of my best customers are the customers that I sold defective appliances to.  When you do the right thing, your customer will see it, and appreciate it.  You can go home and sleep well at night knowing that you haven't screwed anyone over.   There are a lot of hack, hillbilly appliance dealers.  They will always be able to sell an appliance cheaper than you.  When the warranty calls come in , thats when they run away and you get your time to shine. 

 

-Eugene Pallas

Lorain Furniture and Appliance 

 

 

 

 



6 Comments


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Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted (edited)

Fantastic series of posts, Eugene! It's as if you did a brain dump, sharing your hard-earned pearls. I really enjoyed reading your posts-- engaging, well-written, authentic, and with excellent conversational tone. They read as though you were speaking. Looking forward to reading more of your posts! 

Edited by Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Smashycomman

Posted

Very good posts. Informative, well-written, and entertaining.

I may have to look into the used appliance business more someday!

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Excellent post.  I really appreciate you sharing your experiences.  These are truly the best practices for running any business.

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Thirstytech

Posted

Great post and very insightful. It's always good to be reminded that we all go through similar customer issues/experiences. After reading your article I was immediately reminded of my 2 favorite business/customer sayings:

"The customer isn't always right, but they're always the customer"

"We will bend over backwards for our customers, but we will never bend forward for them"  

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mikeyjd

Posted (edited)

Amazing! We have nearly identical policies. I do 6 months on all older units. Anything I'm selling open box or less than 2 years old I sell with a 1 year to snag that high dollar fish. 

Call backs definitely come in waves. I remember one day early on (like month 3) I had 4 washer call backs in one day. I was comeplely demoralized and considered quitting, albeit very briefly. I serviced them all within 24 hours and left each person with a stronger impression than if the machine had worked right the first time.

Servicing a warranty is, without question, one of the quickest ways to get word of mouth referrals. I did 30 days when I started, but about a year into it a light bulb went off and I realized I was consistently "helping people out" outside the warranty period. I'm like "why am I not leveraging the fact that I want to take care of my customers anyways"? Nice work :)

 

 

Edited by mikeyjd

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Completely correct on every point. 

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