8 Mar 2015

Guarantees for the Long Term

I’d like to see manufacturers and brand compete among themselves to offer longer guarantee periods. Why isn’t there a phone that has a guarantee period of two or three years? Or a car with a guarantee of 10 years? This can save money for buyers, when we won’t have to buy the same thing over and over again, even if it costs slightly more upfront. And it will be good for the environment, by not making billions of throw-away goods [1] every year. And it will let a newcomer gain market share, by offering a longer guarantee, and competing on quality.

Just as manufacturers compete with each other to offer more features, easier to use products, and cheaper ones, they should compete with each other to offer longer-lasting products.

This shifts the risk that a product doesn’t last as long as expected, from buyers to sellers. Companies won’t be able to claim a product lasts long and get away with breaking that promise [2]. And rather than hearing from friends and relatives that a certain brand of product lasts long, let it be explicit and enforceable [3].

A race to the top regarding longer guarantees will help customers, and the environment, and the economy as a whole, by reducing wasteful spending.

[1] Governments must levy a tax on every product and service that covers the full environmental costs. This will give long-lasting products an advantage in the product, and make us all healthier, and improve the environment. 

[2] This should also be a consumer protection law: if a product is advertised as lasting for a certain number of years, and it doesn’t, the customer should be entitled to a partial refund, or a replacement at no cost, at the manufacturer’s choice.

[3] The law can again help here, perhaps by requiring that any product that offers less guarantee than the best in class should have a big disclaimer in ads and shop displays and web sites and brochures and everywhere else that you can get a competitor makes a longer-lasting product. For example, if Karbonn offers a 1-year guarantee, and Micromax offers a 2-year guarantee on all its phones, then Karbonn should be required to point that out in every interaction with its customers — web sites, marketing calls, SMSs, store displays, brochures, at the time of buying the phone, and so on.

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