Lifetime Guarantee

The ” lifetime guarantee ” is one of the oldest pea-and shell ploys on the market. I would be willing to bet that it was offered in the Middle Ages – I’ve certainly seen printed instances of this sort of enticement in the 1850’s. I can find it on my internet feed right now.

Generally it’s a load of horse shit.

The premise that it’s based upon is the suggestion that the goods on offer are so reliable that they will last your lifetime. And that if they fail through some mischance, the company will rush to your aid. A comfortable thought.

Note that this is never offered for goods that really need to be reliable – airplanes, motor cars, houses. They have limited guarantees…or warrantees…or limited warrantees..or nothing at all. You can pay extra for the deluxe version of nothing, if you wish. This is what extended motor-car warrantees are based upon. If you need smoke and mirrors, they have you covered.

The basic flaw of a lifetime guarantee is the limited nature of the lifetime. Not yours – heaven forbid that you should not live until your dying day – it’s the companies that have got your money that die out. And they do so legally, quietly, repeatedly, and generally just before you need to make a claim.

You are left with two alternatives; cry bitterly or don’t. You’ll get no free help, free goods, or free happiness from whomever the last company melds into. They will be considered a separate entity and not liable to the promises of the last one.

The one exception I have found to this gloomy rule is the Crumpler Bag Company of Melbourne. They give a lifetime guarantee/warrantee for their goods and on two occasions I have had them make good their promise. The fact that it was the same fault in the same bag – twice – tells you something, but they fixed it for free both times. Crumpler are honourable people.

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