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Thread: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

  1. #1

    Help Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Hi folks,

    I'm re-posting this question here, based on my best judgement. My reasoning is thus: it's not appropriate content for my sales thread, because the topic is not about selling lights...and hence off-topic. I also feel like it is burried in that thread and people don't respond...because it's off topic.

    The purpose of this thread is to get feedback from existing and potential customers on what constitutes a fair and desirable warranty policy. I hope this is a legitimate use of the forum and look forward to your comments!

    ---------------------

    I recently posted a tentative warranty policy for my lights on my blog: link

    I'd love to get some feedback from members on what sounds reasonable, what doesn't, and/or what else you'd like to see.

    Thanks in advance!

    Jason

    Okay, I just added the content here so you didn't have to do so much traveling

    Refunds
    Since each light is custom made for each individual, no refunds can be offered. This might sound harsh but it's standard for custom made products. Please feel free to ask any and all questions before purchasing. I try to represent my products completely and accurately.
    Warranty on materials and workmanship
    I personally warrant my lighting instruments to be free from (gross) defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product (regardless of the owner) or the lifetime of the company...whichever comes first. Hey, I'm just being practical.
    This includes failure of the LED module. The LED is not covered if the light has been otherwise severely damaged, but it can be replaced for the cost of components, labor, and shipping.
    Since this is a hand made product, minor cosmetic defects in the surface and/or finish should be expected and are not covered by the warranty. I do not attempt to remove all "machining marks" from the light so you should expect to see evidence of the machining process.
    Warranty on electronics and components
    LED drivers, batteries, chargers, and charger adapters are covered for a period of 1 year after purchase. This applies only to random "failure" and not failure because of physical "damage." I reserve the right to differentiate between failure and damage.
    Batteries will not be covered if the safety circuitry has been tripped as a result of over-charging or over-discharging. I can tell. Do not continue to use the light once the "low battery warning" has been activated. Feel free to use your own charger, but if you use the Xtar MP-1 (that I sell) over-charging should not be an issue.
    Warranty on "wear" items
    Wear items like o-rings, front glass windows, switches, and switch boots are not covered under warranty. However, if you send the light back I'm happy to service the light for the cost of components and shipping.
    You must keep the threads and o-rings lubricated and clean to prevent damage to the light. I highly recommend you purchase the "maintenance kit" because these lights require preventative maintenance. It's like changing the oil in your car...you don't have to do it, but it will keep it from breaking down.
    Upgrades and modifications
    If you would like your light upgraded or modified, I'm happy to do so for the cost of components, labor, and shipping. Contact me and we'll talk about price.
    Catastrophic Damage
    It happens. If your light suffers catastrophic damage, I'm happy to repair it for the cost of components, labor, and shipping. Contact me and we'll talk about price.
    Warranty resolution
    You must contact me in advance if you would like to make a warranty claim.
    Warranty options in order of preference include: repair, component replacement, complete replacement. I will choose the best option, at my discretion. I'm a fair guy so you should expect a fair deal. For example, if there is a problem in the tailcap I will not replace the entire light.
    In all cases you must pay for shipping the light (or other item) back to me. Most warranty claims are the result of operator error, not product defects. Hopefully if you have to pay for shipping you'll actually check to see if you installed the battery backwards or not.
    The "don't be a jerk" clause
    I'm just one guy and I do the best work I can. If you have a problem and you are nice about it, I'll go out of my way to exceed your expectations. If you have a problem and you are a jerk about it, consider your warranty null and void. Seriously. I don't have the time or patience to deal with unreasonable people, and since I'm making the rules, that's my rule.
    Okay, so what do you think? Too much? Too little? Too wacky? Please comment! I'm gearing up for a webiste upgrade in the very near future and would like to incorporate this information. Thanks in advance for your help!
    Last edited by archer6817j; 05-30-2011 at 05:19 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Link didn't work for me.
    Maker of Aspheric Lenses and Headlamps.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Link fixed! (above).

  4. #4

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Hey all, I added the actual copy to my first post. Your help is appreciated!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Preface: I've been watching your business and blog pretty much since it started. I like your blog-business-philosophy, if only because it's interesting. I avoided saying anything about the warranty earlier because I'll come across as negative, and you're getting the feedback you want on the blog anyway.

    Feedback:
    It sounds great. Nobody could doubt that it's reasonable. The reason nobody can doubt it is because it doesn't actually say much.

    I get that you're trying to be simple, but there's a reason that lawyers usually use long-winded definitions. It makes what they say clear and exact. Harder to understand, sure, but having worked through it you know exactly what they're saying.

    Your warranty seems to boil down to:

    1. No refunds
    2. a. Repairs will be carried out for a price I will dictate.
    2. b. If I decide that the fault is mine then the price is only the shipping fee.

    Or even:
    1. No refunds
    2. For repairs, you pay the shipping plus what I think is reasonable.
    Maker of Aspheric Lenses and Headlamps.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    I agree with ahorton's summary of the warranty.


    However those lawyers' long-winded versions usually come down to about the same thing IME. It just takes longer to work it out.

    I am not so sanguine about the jerk clause. Light fails. I fall down stairs. I may well not be nice about it.
    Nick
    So is current draw from a Lithium Polymer battery LiPosuction?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    I guess I'd respectfully disagree that legal-speak is clear and exact. I'd go further and say the language is sometimes used to obscure the intent to the casual reader. Like any tool, you can use it for good or evil, and people do both. Anyway, I use plain English so you don't have to be a lawyer to understand what I'm saying. That's the intent anyway, and part of the reason I'm asking for feedback.

    I looked up a couple other custom builders and they also had a "no refunds" policy. It's actually pretty common with other things that are made-to-order. I thought it seemed fair. I realize it might also seem harsh, but as a very small operation it's hard to accommodate people that "just don't like it" after they receive it, because they didn't take due care in educating themselves on what they were buying. Buyer's remorse I think they call it. Fine if you are a big company, really problematic for a small guy.

    Ahorton, I'm not sure if your comments are a critical or just observations/clarifications. I'm fine with criticism but I'm just not sure where you are headed
    Last edited by archer6817j; 06-01-2011 at 11:10 PM.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Regarding refunds: What if the product is faulty to a level that the buyer just gets sick of trying? This could be different things going wrong, or the same thing repeatedly....bad batch of LEDs etc. That can cause loss of "enjoyment of use" of the product.

    This obviously should not happen, and I am not saying it will, but if I see a clause that says no refunds, with no rider about faults or total unusability due to faults, I would be leery. You do hear of the "lemons" that just keep going back and that has to stop sometime, preferably without legal action of some kind.
    Nick
    So is current draw from a Lithium Polymer battery LiPosuction?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by archer6817j View Post
    I guess I'd respectfully disagree that legal-speak is clear and exact. I'd go further and say the language is sometimes used to obscure the intent to the casual reader. Like any tool, you can use it for good or evil, and people do both.
    Ok, but it goes both ways. My assessment was that I could sum up the whole warranty in two parts. So why say more if not to give a different impression?

    Quote Originally Posted by archer6817j View Post
    Anyway, I use plain English so you don't have to be a lawyer to understand what I'm saying. That's the intent anyway, and part of the reason I'm asking for feedback.
    Again, I reckon that my summary was easier to understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by archer6817j View Post
    I looked up a couple other custom builders and they also had a "no refunds" policy. It's actually pretty common with other things that are made-to-order. I thought it seemed fair. I realize it might also seem harsh, but as a very small operation it's hard to accommodate people that "just don't like it" after they receive it, because they didn't take due care in educating themselves on what they were buying. Buyer's remorse I think they call it. Fine if you are a big company, really problematic for a small guy.
    I agree, most modders are the same. I don't really have much respect for buyer's remorse. You're trying to run a business, not a library. I would never dream of taking something back if I changed my mind, but not everyone thinks the same so it does need to be stated.

    OldNick's point is very good though. A customer needs to be able to say, "I don't want it replaced because the new one will have the same flaw!" and get a refund. I doubt you'd have a problem with that, so long as they were polite about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by archer6817j View Post
    Ahorton, I'm not sure if your comments are a critical or just observations/clarifications. I'm fine with criticism but I'm just not sure where you are headed
    Arghhhh! You see! This is why I don't comment on so many things when I think people might take offense. Why would I be doing anything other than having an intelligent discussion on the topic? I'm not a competitor. This consumes my time. What do I gain? Check my history, I don't start fights. Every now and then I make a negative comment after feedback has been requested and I upset someone.

    I make and sell a few headlamps locally. In fact I've got a little hobby business. I've often considered the warranty issue and I've come up with something very similar to yours. I never write it down because it's not really worth anything. I sell a product and both the customer and I agree to be reasonable about expectations and repairs of it. So far it's been fine but it's not a really good arrangement. Oneday someone will disagree with me/you about what is reasonable. An o-ring fails and it floods. Whose fault is it? Theirs because they didn't lubricate the o-ring? Or mine because it shouldn't have needed lubricating every single time it gets used? Whatever happens next, at least one of us thinks the other is being unreasonable. So a good warranty really needs clear explanation of o-ring maintenance etc etc.

    Or we just do what we're both doing and say:

    "I the manufacturer decide whether or not (and how much) to charge for repair".
    (and if you aren't willing to take that on, then don't buy the product)

    Over time you build a reputation as being reasonable by most people's standards
    Maker of Aspheric Lenses and Headlamps.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Hey Ahorton,

    I appreciate your comments and didn't take them in a negative way nor was I upset. Just wanted to have a clear understanding. No harm done

    "I don't really have much respect for buyer's remorse. You're trying to run a business, not a library." --Ahorton (hahahahhahaa, that's good)

    I also take your point about being even more concise and love the fact you did it in two bullet points. My first draft of my warranty policy was, "no reasonable request denied." I stole this from a local messenger bag company called Rickshaw Bagworks. This is obviously not "clear" at all but I like the concept, so I tried to flesh that out with "plain English" AND satisfy those who need details. I"ll go back and read over my current draft and see how it sounds considering I used as much blah-blah english as blah-blah legal speak.

    You make a good point about the light flooding as well. I spent a lot of time thinking about how that same scenario related to the (fictitious) scenario where my light "failed" and then poor Nick fell down the stairs. What exactly would fail mean? Did it run out of batteries? Did it turn off completely? Did it slip out of his (fictitious) grip, hit the stairs and die? Yeah, you are right, who is at fault? I suppose the entire reason I say "don't be a jerk" is that fault is rarely simple, and we have the legal system to prove it. Another way to say it is "let's both be reasonable" or "no reasonable request denied." As you point out though, someday someone is sure to think the other person is being unreasonable. For me, if you are really nice and unreasonable that will go farther than being both a jerk and unreasonable.

    On the topic of o-rings, a favorite topic of mine lately...I notice that almost no one buys one of my maintenance kits when they buy a light. I'd love to include if for free but nano-oil is friggin expensive. I have the following text on the "instructions" tab on my website, which lives immediately to the right of the "warranty" tab. I doubt anyone ever reads it. I'd hate to have to resort to an end user licence agreement! :

    -----------------

    >> MAINTENANCE:

    No one orders the maintenance kit but I guarantee you are going to need it.

    It's kind of like buying a car and never expecting to change the oil. You don't have to use Nano-Oil but I won't recommend anything else. Nano-Oil is very expensive and I can't "include" it in the price of the light. However, it's pure magic. You should buy it.

    Every effort should be made to keep the threads clean...laboratory clean. If you feel "grit" then don't thread the light together. You may permanently damage the precision threads. You are going to need to clean them.

    Body threads: I like to use Simple Green or Windex (something that cuts grease) and an old toothbrush. Feel free to remove the o-ring while you do this...or not.

    Head threads: Take a Q-tip and mash the end flat with a pair of pliers. This will allow the Q-tip to fit between the threads and the copper post that holds the LED driver. Run the Q-tip clockwise several turns and then back it out counter clockwise.

    Window: Optics people call that front glassy thingy the light shines through a "window," not a lens. Be careful when you clean it because it has a special anit-reflective coating. If you get too aggressive you can damage it. I actually use my hot breath and camera lens papers. Some solvents may damage the coating, so I prefer not to use any.

    When you are done, you MUST oil the threads and o-rings. If you don't oil the o-rings the light may become impossible to disassemble.

    ----------------

  11. #11

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldNick View Post
    Regarding refunds: What if the product is faulty to a level that the buyer just gets sick of trying? This could be different things going wrong, or the same thing repeatedly....bad batch of LEDs etc. That can cause loss of "enjoyment of use" of the product.

    This obviously should not happen, and I am not saying it will, but if I see a clause that says no refunds, with no rider about faults or total unusability due to faults, I would be leery. You do hear of the "lemons" that just keep going back and that has to stop sometime, preferably without legal action of some kind.
    Hey Nick, good points. I'm going to reply with quotes from my policy...which isn't me being a jerk, just want to test a) if the policy is clear or not b) if it's too much text and the info you need is buried Here goes:

    Warranty on materials and workmanship

    1) I personally warrant my lighting instruments to be free from (gross) defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product (regardless of the owner) or the lifetime of the company...whichever comes first.
    2) This includes failure of the LED module. The LED is not covered if the light has been otherwise severely damaged, but it can be replaced for the cost of components, labor, and shipping.

    Warranty on electronics and components

    1) LED drivers, batteries, chargers, and charger adapters are covered for a period of 1 year after purchase. This applies only to random "failure" and not failure because of physical "damage." I reserve the right to differentiate between failure and damage

    So, do these items cover your concerns? I concede that these points apply to fixing the light and not a refund if you just get fed up with some sort of problem (which is your point). On that note, assuming you DO get fed up with a problem and not something like "oh, I thought it would be more shiny," do you have any suggestions about how to handle the language of a refund? I'm both trying to cover my a** and make people feel confident about buying.

    Thanks so much for the input so far. You guys raise some great points!

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Packhorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    In NZ all retail sales are covered by the Consumer Grantees Act

    You warranty falls well short of it but if you were to sell your lights in NZ you would be expected to follow the CGA.

    I would be surprised if there isnt a similar act in your country.

    As it is I do not offer a warranty on my lights. I simply go by what a reasonable person thinks is fair which is pretty much what the CGA says.

    If someone wants a refund on a custom made light chances are they will not get it because I will do all I can to make sure the light is fit for purpose.
    If I fail at that I will refund. Never had to yet and only been asked to once. In that instance I did not believe the customer to be reasonable at first and I repaired the problem.

    For repairs I have always done these for free or at cost if they have happened after a reasonable amount of time.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    Well said Packhorse. We have a similar thing here in Oz.

    The kicker is always the 'reasonable person' definition, but I haven't had trouble yet.
    Maker of Aspheric Lenses and Headlamps.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Dark Sucks: tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

    That's an interesting document. I also like how it's in plain english Should I assume that this language is not actually included in a product's warranty, but is a blanket and implied policy for all products?

    It seems way to "reasonable" to be a policy here in the US...the language would have to be much more aggressive. I find that's a funny difference between flying on Australian and New Zealand airlines compared the US airlines. After hearing the nice aussie/kiwi preflight briefing it always sounds to me like there is a lawyer looking over the shoulder of the flight attendant making sure they sound extra serious...on US airlines.

    I'm also curious about where you think I fall short. Don't take that the wrong way The reason I keep asking for clarification is that I'm trying to make specific changes and improvements to my policy when/if necessary so I need that to be really specific. As in: did I use the wrong turn of phrase, is it confusing, do I need extra clarification here, this line is totally unreasonable, I would recommend adding xyz, am I leaving myself open to future problems, etc. I invite you to get specific

    Here is the language from the site. While I don't call these things out specifically, I think they are all implied and covered under the language I've used thus far.

    I will note I think it's funny that to be of "acceptable quality" the goods must be free from "minor" defects...but not from major ones

    Retailers and other such suppliers guarantee their goods will:

    Be of acceptable quality (see definition below).
    Be fit for a particular purpose that you asked about.
    Match the description given in advertisements or sales brochures, or by the sales assistant.
    Match the sample or demonstration model.
    Be owned by the consumer, once purchased.
    Be a reasonable price, if no price or pricing formula has been previously agreed.
    Manufacturers (the definition includes importers) in New Zealand guarantee that:

    Spare parts and repair facilities will be available for a reasonable time.
    They will honour any written warranty that comes with their products.
    Goods are of acceptable quality.
    Goods match their description.

    Acceptable quality

    This means goods:

    Do what they are made to do.
    Are acceptable in appearance and finish.
    Are free from minor defects.
    Are safe and durable.

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