The Trials & Tribulations of Extended Power Tool Warranties
It has become the norm for professional and industrial power tool manufacturers to offer an extended warranty. In general terms, the tools come with a one year warranty as standard, which can be extended to three years if the tool is registered online within four weeks of purchase.
It seems fairly straightforward …. So why do less than half actually get registered? Roll forward a year or so when the tool fails; now we have an issue which leads to the very pointed question – who is to blame?
The power tool manufacturers have a very black and white approach; either it’s registered or it is not registered. Their position would be – the ‘rules’ are clear; how can the blame be laid at our door? If you take all the emotions out of the situation, you can’t argue with this stance. The question always arises from customers – ‘why can’t they just provide a three year warranty as standard’? The simple answer to this is that the manufacturers see an extended warranty a big enough carrot to capture data from end-users for future marketing activity to ultimately grow their brand. A cynic might suggest that they may prefer tools not to be registered to ‘save money’, but I believe the former to be the real reason.
So we’ve dealt with the power tool manufacturers and it’s safe to say that they cannot be held accountable for confusion over warranty registration. What about the dealer or agent? I cannot comment on what other dealers do, but we have tried to cover all bases at Protrade, to ensure our customers are aware for the extended warranty process. There’s a clear statement in bold at the bottom of each product on the Protrade website along with a specific ‘Warranty Information & Logging’ page. For in-Depot power tool purchases, we have a three stage reminder system:
- Each depot operative should remind the customer to register their extended warranty.
- A sign is positioned next to each trade counter with a reminder to register extended warranties.
- Every despatch note, provided with the tool, has a reminder to register extended warranties.
To make the procedure even easier for our customers, we even print the serial numbers on the despatch note so the tools can immediately be used on site, whilst the paperwork can be referred to for the registration. Short of registering warranties on behalf of our customers, something we cannot legally do without contravening the Data Protection Act 1998, we have tried to make the process as easy and clear as possible.
Now we have dealt with the dealer and in particular, looked at the reminder process in place at Protrade, I strongly believe that we go above and beyond what is expected of a supplier, but can we do more? As one of the largest independent power tool suppliers in the UK, we are constantly looking at ways to improve the process. Writing this blog has stimulated more ideas about what we could potentially do to improve further. In the meantime, the onus is on the ‘end-user’ to ensure all warranties are registered with four weeks of purchase. I can however offer the following advice to minimise exposure, aggravation and time-wasting:
- Consolidate you power tool purchases to one supplier. This way; rather than taking problems on when they arise, simply pass the problem on to your nominated supplier.
- Deal with a local company with a point of contact, intimate knowledge of the power tool market, has an in-house service or repair facility and even offers warranty cover over and above the standard conditions.
- Always purchase your power tools from an authorised and reliable dealer. In a competitive market, an increasing number of seemingly reputable companies are purchasing their tools from outside the UK. These tools are therefore not the responsibility of the UK-based manufacturer and any warranty is almost certainly null and void. Counterfeit tools are also a problem, especially cordless batteries. They are not only substandard, but can often be dangerous.
- Keep a record for your fleet of tools with a basic spreadsheet or more recently, apps have been developed with inventory management features to easily track and control equipment.
Protrade does tick all the boxes, but this is not propaganda. I openly admit that we cannot offer the same level of service to customers located long distances from our depots, as we can to local customers. However frustrating this is, it’s a fact. For most tradespeople, their tools are an integral part of their livelihood. Power tools by their nature, will almost certainly require attention at some point of their life cycle. When the time comes, it needs to be easy …… it needs to be #BestValueNoMessin!
My final point would be this; consider very carefully who you entrust as your power tool supplier or should I say ‘partner’.