WARRANTIES: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
It is inevitable in our line of work as business owners and technicians that things go wrong, do not go to plan or you just have bad days, says Highfields Mechanical’s Craig Baills
Probable causes are the Full Moon and its irrational effects on nature (joking, or am I), pressures of business, freight companies that have no respect for time frames, incorrect part supplies, access to information or rework due to part failure, or we just stuffed up.
These issues can have a difficult effect on our operations, particularly when we as repairers are focused on delivering the best possible service and outcomes to our customers.
I want to focus on part failure and warranties related to such failures – we have all been there.
We have all had experiences where a replaced component has failed within the part manufacturer’s warranty period so we have removed and replaced it, carried out our own assessment, sent it back to the supplier for a warranty claim if it’s not due to our workmanship, finished the job, apologised profusely to the customer and with no charge to them (this would only start an argument and give us bad reviews) and possibly even given a goodwill incentive for them to come back.
This all sounds very familiar, right?
Three weeks later we receive a phone call from the supplier explaining that the warranty on the part that we sent back for a claim has been denied or they will only cover the part and not the labour.
Their reasons can include statements the issue was due to poor fitment, misalignment, abuse, ‘this’ wasn’t checked, ‘that’ wasn’t checked or any number of what seem to be excuses from the book of 101 reasons to deny a warranty claim from the part manufacturer.
Meanwhile, our business is out of pocket as we have protected our brand and the supplier’s brand at our own cost and are left wearing the cost of the repair for what we are certain was no fault of our own.
Occasionally, generosity from the manufacturer will take us by surprise and they will pay for the part and not the labour. This is a very humble gesture when a $65.00 component takes six to eight hours to replace.
As my sarcasm begins to ooze, the reality is, most workshops will offer a 12mth/20000km warranty on service and repairs to the customer’s vehicle that covers parts and labour. If we did not do this, our customers would have very little faith in our abilities and repairs.
I believe it is high time that as a minimum standard, the suppliers offer the same and pressure is put back on the manufacturers to back this.
This is a major pain point in our industry as repairers, and seriously grinds my gears. I have firsthand experience with failed warranty claims due to excuses from the manufacturer.
There are brands that suppliers sell that I will boycott due to very poor and expensive warranty experiences that have been denied because of any number of excuses, when the claim was valid.
Oil seals, radiators, timing belt kits, tyres and brakes have all been denied, costing our business with no compensation from the supplier or the part manufacturer.
Suppliers and part manufacturers put a lot of faith in our abilities to correctly install and do the job right, as do the business owners and their techs that install the parts.
As a tech, we hate doing the job twice, we hate the confrontation with the customer, and we have pride in our work.
Having a failure is a kick in the guts, particularly if it is our own fault due to workmanship, but when it comes to a component failure it is frustrating.
We take a lot of pride in what we do and when we fit a component, it is normally because we endorse that component or have faith in the manufacturer to back us should it fail.
Our aftermarket repair and parts supply industry has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. From a technology, quality and expectation point of view, we need to be on our game at all levels.
If parts manufacturers cannot supply quality components, backed by a suitable parts and labour warranty, go and supply another industry. As a repairer and small business, we cannot afford to carry manufacturers that do not provide a suitable warranty for their products.
The need to negate any excuse for a vehicle manufacturer, or a customer for that matter, to prove or show incompetence in the aftermarket repair industry and keep us at arm’s length from their information and ability to service and maintain their vehicles is now greater than ever.
If we cannot offer quality products and service that have the full backing from the whole supply chain from manufacture to fitment, then we need to take a good hard look at why we are in this industry.
There are many in this trade that are serious about right to repair, mandatory data sharing and delivering a service that exceeds that of the manufacturers and dealers. Let us all step up and prove that as manufacturers, suppliers and repairers, we are 100 percent confident that the products and services we sell stand the test of time.
In the meantime, to ensure you are as prepared as possible in the case of a warranty issue, I recommend that you proactively discuss with your suppliers what their terms, conditions and processes are in terms of warranty claims, and if those aren’t acceptable to you, find another supplier before you have a problem. You may also wish to speak to Industry Legal Group, which is available to supply advice to AAAA members.
Here’s to the future,