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January - February 2003

from the publisher

Surprise! People Will Speak about Warranty Issues
by Tara Taffera

I have to admit that I am more than pleasantly surprised at the feedback I’ve received from our readers about the article I wrote on window and door warranties in the last issue of DWM (see November-December DWM, page 44). 

The Manufacturer View
In that article, I expressed frustration over the dearth of manufacturers who returned my phone calls and who were willing to talk about this volatile issue. But, after hearing from many of you following that article, I realized that this issue really does strike a nerve with window and door manufacturers. I also realized that there are people who are willing to talk about this topic. 

All of those responses are printed in our letters section on page 8, so I won’t spend a lot of time rehashing what you told me—you’ll have to read them for yourself as the insights are very interesting. However, I will share one thing that really struck me about some of those comments. When the customer asks about a warranty on a particular window, he may be wowed by terms such as “lifetime.” But some of the terms he doesn’t hear (found in the fine print) include “installation not covered,” “void if painted,” etc. So it’s really up to the manufacturer to be responsible and tell the customer what “lifetime” really means. One reader wrote me and said, “I can only shake my head at how easily customers are misled by the word lifetime.” He added that many warranties are void if the customer doesn’t register within 30 days, while some warranties aren’t transferable.

I’d love to hear what you think. How much time do you spend with the customer going over the fine print of the warranty? E-mail me at ttaffera@glass.com.

The Supplier View
On another aspect of the warranty issue, I’d like to share some excerpts from a conversation I had with Richard Warren, a member of TruSeal Technologies’ technical services department (I interviewed Warren for my original November-December article but due to space constraints there was no room for his comments). Warren’s statements are interesting because he talks about warranty issues from the supplier point of view. 

At TruSeal, customers who participate in the company’s warranty program have to meet certain practices and objectives set forth by the company (see DWM November-December, page 16). 
However, to participate in the warranty program, participants must follow certain guidelines related to such procedures as how to clean the glass properly, etc. For example, Warren says that TruSeal’s warranty customers are asked to follow Glass Association of North America glazing guidelines. 
An advantage of participating in TruSeal’s warranty program is that the company aids its customers in tracking and reporting field problems (not just those that are warranty-related). The company provides individuals with a computer program that allows them to enter a variety of data.

“For example, if a customer gets a field call, he can enter that information in the computer. Then he can determine how many units have been replaced due to a particular reason,” said Warren. He adds that the program is unique in that it is very specific in what it can do.

When I interviewed manufacturers and asked if they tracked warranty claims, most did not have a sophisticated way of doing so. However, this may be related to a company’s size.
While Warren says that customers participating in the warranty program have to meet certain requirements, he says, “Customers participating in our warranty program tend to be on the high-end of the manufacturing spectrum. Most of them are very sophisticated and are already doing these things.”

Do the suppliers you work with have a program similar to TruSeal’s? Do you participate? Why or why not? Send your comments to ttaffera@glass.com


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