Warranty Definition: What Does It Mean To Have A Warranty?

Warranties are like school nurses; they are needed to ensure peace of mind, but unless something goes wrong, you really don’t need to use them. Whereas school nurses are there to aid children who hurt themselves, warranties are put in place for defects that are unforeseen when a product is distributed to retailers. In both cases, you hope to return from the experience better than when you went in. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Learning the definition of a warranty is important to explore.

The General Definition Of A Warranty

Nowadays, almost everything has a warranty associated with it when you buy it. More often than not, it’s in the fine print, but companies generally back their product against defects and issues customers may run into when using the item. In most cases, a company will cover these issues for a certain period of time only. Some for 90 days, others for ten years or even a lifetime (it’s reasonable to assume that if a product fails after a year or more, it is most likely not a defect).


Another way manufacturers handle defects is by sending out a letter of notice recalling a product for a known issue that may be harmful to the consumer or is known to not perform as expected; usually, a notice of recall is only sent out when a product is known to be defective on a wide scale.

Specifying What Constitutes A Defect

One thing customers must remember: A defect, by definition, is “an imperfection that impairs worth or utility.” Basically, what this is saying is that if you abuse your product and/or use it constantly to the point it wears out, it is not a defect. Thus, the manufacturer is not obligated to cover it. Unless it was a freak accident, most of the time, the consumer will be the one to blame, and it will fall under what we in the business like to call “normal wear and tear.” Dropping a pair of sunglasses or a Smartphone and breaking it is not a freak accident. It’s consumer negligence, an important part of the warranty definition.

Example Of How A Repair Policy Works

Now, most brands have a repair policy that the consumer has the option of using to repair their item without having to pay full price for a new one. Let us use sunglasses as an example:

Normally, if it’s something small, like the arm of a sunglasses frame breaking, it’s usually just a shipping and processing fee (and tax), and you get your lenses placed into a brand new frame. In every brand we’ve dealt with, the lens is more expensive to replace because most lenses are crafted in the United States to meet the standards required by law to sell them, whereas the frames are made in foreign lands because they don’t need to comply with many laws. The money in sunglasses is in their lenses. Oakley’s lenses are made in California; Maui Jim’s lenses are made in Illinois; Costa Del Mar’s lenses are made in Florida; Under Armour’s lenses are made in New York, and so on and so forth. Lens replacements run from $30 to $100, depending on the brand and lens material. 

Now, with all of that being said about sunglasses, the same can be said for all products. It can be something as small as a calculator or phone to something as big as a car or a boat. If it doesn’t fall under the manufacturer’s warranty, but it has a repair policy, then the cost of the repair will be determined by what broke.

Ask Yourself: What is the role of retailer in distribution channel? And Where Do The Employees Fit?

The retailer is the final link in the distribution channel, and the employee is not personally responsible for damaged goods. We must mention on behalf of all retail associates who have a customer service counter that has to deal with warranties and returns on a daily basis. It is true, by selling a product, a company is saying that they stand behind the product enough that they carry it in their store. However, the store is not in charge of the warranty definition. A company like Target, Walmart, or any other, is simply the distributor to get the product to the customer. Otherwise, everything would have to be bought through the mail or online. Some stores have associates who know their product, so it’s worth coming into the store rather than going online. For most companies, usually, if it’s something that happens in a fair amount of time (like 30 days), and it’s a defect, they will take care of you. Furthermore, some companies sell a protection plan on some of their products that cover the product for any warranty issue as well as personal negligence. The only thing not covered is loss or theft.

Most importantly, when the product is broken due to user negligence, it does not give you the right to yell at the human being behind the counter, which is not to blame for your mistake. They may not even know the definition of a warranty you were given. It does not matter if you spend thousands of dollars at the store or if the store is a multi-billion dollar company; it would be a stupid business practice to return every single broken item that is sold when it isn’t even the manufacturer’s fault. The multi-billion dollar company would no longer be a successful company; there would be a good chance the company wouldn’t even be in business if it returned everything. This goes tenfold for the manufacturers if they returned/repaired everything for free. Therefore, it doesn’t matter who the customer is; each company and manufacturer has its own unbiased return/repair policy.

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