Retail education: Only one good warranty

Home Columns Retail education: Only one good warranty

Part 1 of 2

by Kelly Kramer

If you missed Lew Migliore’s Article “Warranty Headaches” go back and read it again (FCNews, Feb. 8/15). Talk about hitting a common problem issue on the head. Lew talked about what happens to us retailers when we use warranties as a selling point.

Let’s face it. Most warranties are another way to make one manufacturer’s product look better than another. When the first stain and wear warranties came out I clearly remember my boss and a few other old timers say it was a big mistake. The idea that a product you walk on, trample dirt on or spill on could be guar- anteed or warranted against wear was, to use Lew’s term, “ludicrous.” Look at how often you wash your clothes: you don’t ever walk on that fiber. Unless you are like the singer from American Idol who sang, “Pants on the Ground.”

Here’s an example

Stain warranties cover most items that won’t stain fiber and to the credit of our fiber scientists, that is a truly amazing amount of substances. But if a substance will stain the yarn permanently it’s excluded in the fine print, so a stain warranty can almost never be used.

The problem way back when, as well as today, is that our sales staff make it seem like you can simply dump stuff on your carpet, never clean it off and it will be covered by warranty. Lew’s example of a car manufacturer claiming its car will never get dirty is a great one. If you clean your car regularly, wax it and keep corrosives like salt or magnesium chloride off the car, the finish will stay in good shape.

Most stains are caused by permanent dye being left too long on the fiber’s surface. A stain is a permanent color dye entering the dye sites and changing color permanently, while a spot can be removed. Products like bleach are dye removers. The way I explain staining to my customers is that original stain blockers like Scotchgard are really water repellents. The product was first used to spray on raincoats, umbrellas, tents and awnings to keep water from entering the fiber. Then the carpet/fiber manufacturers figured

out that if the liquid could not penetrate the fiber, then dyes in the liquid could not re-dye that fiber.

My best example is if you put dry mustard powder on carpet fiber, you can simply vacuum it up. But if you add water to mustard powder, it carries dye into the fiber. Protections like Scotchguard are simply wet dye/stain blockers.

Later on, chemists figured out how to put dye blocker in the yarn more permanently, but even the most up to date advances on stain blocking will not stop all re-dying of the carpet. You still have to remove any substances on carpet fiber as fast as you see it. After that, your odds go up that permanent dyes not covered in the warranty will penetrate the yarn and result in a stain.

Avoid the claims

The easy answer to stopping warranty claims is not to offer warranties in the first place. In my entire selling career I have never once used a warranty claim to sell. The only time I even talk about them is if my customer brings it up and then I know that they have visited another store.

So, I explain the only warranty worth weight is the one my store offers on installation and our promise to stand up to any problems we created. It’s called great service. More in part two.

Thanks Lew and thank you for reading.

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