Tech Tips: Warranty Claims

July 2, 2019
Locksmiths may base their own decisions on what products they sell based on the warranty offered by the manufacturer.

Locksmiths don’t manufacture locks; they specify, sell and install them. We exist to help our customers. The better a job we do, the more successful we will be.

I had a boss who adhered to the “there’s a sucker born every minute” philosophy, and even if he treated customers poorly, he had no worries about ever running out. I guess he was not a believer in the value of repeat business. In fact, 25% to 40% of the total revenues of the most stable businesses come from returning customers.

I had another boss who had actually figured out how much it cost him to make the phone ring. If it was a new customer, it cost plenty. If it was an existing account, an asset from whom you have already made money was calling you to spend more. The call didn’t cost anything unless you failed to produce a sale or drove the client off.

Warranties are offered by manufacturers to attract new customers and make a statement about their faith in their products and their commitment to their customers.

Locksmiths may base their own decisions on what products they sell based on the warranty offered by the manufacturer.

Locksmiths’ customers will pick a locksmith based on the locksmith’s reputation or the strength of the locksmith commitment to performing craftsmanlike work.

One issue that comes up often is products with extended or lifetime warranties which promise to replace a defective product.

I can recall situations where the manufacturer insisted that the end-user be involved in the transaction of filing the warranty claim, receiving the replacement part and shipping the defective one back to the manufacturer.

Consumers do not always exercise the best judgement when there is an emergency and they need a locksmith. Being deluged with misleading ads placed by unscrupulous trunk slammers does not help the situation.

The end-user had to issue a purchase order for the replacement and was promised the invoice would be zeroed out once the defective part was received by the manufacturer and inspected. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that?

Another situation was when a warranted component failed and the manufacturer’s terms were that the process be performed through the distributor.

I do not know about you, but a significant percentage of our service calls were from customers who wanted to get out from under their existing servicer, and often, the original distributor of a faulty component was a mystery.

Additionally, the cost of the part in question would be billed against our account and it would be on us follow through on settling up our balance.

Another detail in this mosaic was the labor and timing. The warranty did not include the trips down and back from the job, or the labor to remove and reinstall the part, or to ship and receive the replacement part.

There was an era when there was a limited time on the warranty offer. When I went out to swap out a faulty component, the one which I bought new and had kept in stock for just this occasion was itself already out of warranty before I had the chance to install it.

How about the time we sold a whole bunch of a particular standalone lock all over the place. We had a large service area, especially for county governments, school districts and retailers. So then the product was discontinued and there was nothing out there available as a replacement. The prep was unique, the product was primarily for aluminum storefronts, and the customers were angry. Fortunately I was a subcontractor there. But the end-users still took it out on us!

These warranty situations generally apply to electronic equipment rather than mechanical locks. Locksmiths generally warranty mechanical locks for a certain time frame, say 90 days and guarantee that the item is properly installed. If it develops a problem due to poor workmanship, they’ll service it free; otherwise normal labor rates apply. Electronic equipment such as keypads and electric strikes will be covered by a much shorter warranty period, for example 30 days but the installation will be guaranteed.

Your terms of sale will determine how you handle the warranty, since you are the recipient of the factory warranty, and it is your prerogative how you pass it along to customers.

The locksmith is selling security solutions which they specify design an installation and then install. Very often time is of the essence to get the equipment installed, and also time is of the essence to show up and make required adjustments to keep it operational. Most clients want you there NOW, and are not interested in reading a page of boiler plate warranty doubletalk. If they wanted to read confusing contracts, they could call a lawyer or a politician. If they wanted to argue they could call their spouse.

They wanted professionally installed security so they called a locksmith.

If you want to assure the customer that they have made a wise investment, and can anticipate what the costs will be to maintain the installation, you can warranty the hardware and offer a service contract which applies preferential pricing and priority responses to requests for service for the project, making the client an account and encourages the customer to use your services regularly, and can be the basis for a recurring revenue stream.

These are all good arguments for standardizing on a certain set of components and keeping an inventory.

Carefully select your supply chain partners and fully understand the terms of the warranties for the products you offer.

You will be judged for your service posture; the quality of your work, and also the reliability of the products you provide.