Many products you buy come with some form of warranty — whether it comes as part of the purchase or you pay for an extended warranty at the time of purchase. Some companies even offer a free lifetime warranty (sometimes called a lifetime guarantee). Because these companies stand behind their products 100 percent, you can “cash in” the warranty at any time to get something new for free.
I have developed an affinity for companies that offer lifetime warranties. Many of these stores’ products have price tags that might give a cheapskate pause. But I don’t see the upfront price as being important — I see the long-term savings as being the real key. If a company offers a lifetime warranty on an item, and I have to spend only once on something, then over the long run I’ve saved money. That’s my brand of frugal.
What got me thinking about lifetime guarantees is that recently we received a brand new backpack for free thanks to one company’s lifetime warranty. Here is a comparison of lifetime warranty offers from the three companies I’m most familiar with — L.L. Bean, Lands’ End and Jansport. I’ve laid out the pros, cons and my thoughts on each.
Jansport makes backpacks, luggage, laptop bags and other packs that help you tote things from one place to another. I heard about Jansport products and the lifetime guarantee when I was writing an article for Good Housekeeping and found a family who was able to replace broken zippers on a Jansport backpack for free. My first experience taking advantage of Jansport’s lifetime guarantee also involved a backpack’s broken zipper.
Pros: Jansport’s warranty is simple and straightforward:
We build our products to last over extended periods of use, but inevitably everything does eventually wear out. So, when your pack wears out as all things do, you’ll know you’ve gotten the most out of your gear and your experience. JanSport branded products covered by this warranty are warranted to the original owner against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product, except for certain exclusions identified below.
The exclusions note that “the warranty does not apply to pins, patches, face masks, facial coverings, or related accessories. … Only unaltered and unmodified items and original workmanship are covered. This warranty does not cover damage caused by accident, improper care, negligence, normal wear and tear, or the natural breakdown of colors and materials over extended time and use. Damage not covered under warranty may be repaired for a reasonable rate and a fee will be charged for return shipping.” The warranty turnaround time is generally 3 weeks.
When my daughter Annie’s Jansport backpack could no longer zip, I went to the Jansport website, downloaded a form to send back with the pack and sent it in. That was on Jan. 28.
Cons: I had to pay for shipping to the Jansport warranty center in California. Even though Jansport is sold in national retailers — we got Annie’s backpack at Staples — your only option is to mail the item back to Jansport.
On the plus side, it didn’t take Jansport very long to acknowledge receipt of the backpack: I got an email Feb. 2 letting me know it had arrived. Annie’s new backpack arrived on our doorstep March 2.
L.L. Bean also makes products for nearly element of life. In our house, you’ll find the store’s flannel sheets, workout gear, outerwear, bathing suits, backpacks, shoes, lunchboxes and luggage.
When I first wrote about taking advantage of L.L. Bean’s lifetime guarantee policy, many readers agreed with supporting a company that stands behind its products with a lifetime warranty. Others felt the warranty was disingenuous. However, I stand behind my belief. I have continued to wear an L.L. Bean winter coat because, though pricey upfront, I know that L.L. Bean will stand behind its products no matter what.
Pros: Here is how L.L. Bean describes its warranty:
We stand behind all our products and are confident that they will perform as designed. If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.
Even returning something via the guarantee is easy — on the returns pages of the website, fill out an exchange form and send the item back to L.L. Bean. Another option is to visit one of its stores — there are about 30 nationwide.
Cons: You’ll need to pay to ship your item back to L.L. Bean if you can’t visit a store. At least with coats, styles seem to change often, so exchanging a coat on warranty has never allowed me to get the same coat twice. This winter I returned a 3-year-old coat. Despite following the washing instructions, the coat would not come clean. L.L. Bean no longer made that style of coat, and the replacement I chose cost $30 more, so I had to pay the difference.
More companies that offer great guarantees:
ALDI is a favorite of money-conscious food shoppers. But you may not know of Aldi’s Twice as Nice Guarantee. The company website states, “If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with the quality of any product, we will gladly replace the product AND refund your money. To receive the Twice as Nice Guarantee, the product packaging and any unused product must be returned to your local ALDI store manager.”
The guarantee does not apply to non-food ALDI Finds items, or alcohol, and also does not apply to issues not relating to product quality. A receipt is required for this refund, or a gift card equal to the item is issued.
This longtime cutlery company wants its products to be passed down from generation to generation, and they make it easy to do so. Their warranty page on their website states “If at any time you are not satisfied with the performance of your Cutco product we’ll make it right. Whether you made the initial purchase or you received Cutco as a gift, it’s our guarantee that your Cutco products will perform like new. Forever.” They even offer a free sharpening service.
Darn Tough Socks
How often do you see sock companies guaranteeing their products for life? Well, this Vermont company does. Here is their warranty:
Our unconditional lifetime guarantee is simple and without strings or conditions. If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair.
Simply fill out a form and send Darn Tough your socks, and receive a new pair. One Living on the Cheap editor has owned some Darn Tough socks for years without a tear or hole. She immediately washes and mails the socks that don’t last a lifetime, and Darn Tough immediately sends a credit for a new pair — with no wool pulled over your eyes on this one.
Le Creuset Kitchenware
This cookware is expensive to buy, but it is high-quality and beloved by many. Le Creuset has more than one type of warranty depending on the item you purchased, so read your warranty carefully. The website states that defective cookware “will be replaced free of charge, or replaced by a similar product or one of equivalent value if the product is no longer in production. Replacement with the same color cannot be guaranteed.”
Lupine Dog Wear
It’s hard to find a pet company willing to guarantee a product for a lifetime, but Lupine tries to please. Their website guarantee says that Lupine will replace items such as leashes, collars, or pet gear that has been accidentally damaged during normal activity, even if it has been chewed. The guarantee does not cover products which are lost, outgrown, simply dirty or stinky, exhibiting normal wear and tear, damaged intentionally or through neglect, or donated, sponsored, or given as a free promotion. Items will be replaced with an identical item,
Manduka Yoga Mats
Manduka’s guarantee covers manufacturer defects on the Black Mat PRO®, Manduka PRO® and PROlite® yoga mats, with the caveat that they are cared for properly. The website states:
Since the PRO Squared is a multi-purpose mat, it is not included under the Lifetime Guarantee. The lifetime of the mat is approximately 10 years of regular use when loved and cared for. Should a PRO™ mat wear out past its useful life from regular use under normal conditions, we will replace the product. Maximum one replacement per purchase. Cosmetic wear or damage resulting from improper handling or care, post-purchase modifications, alterations, negligence, and use for a purpose other than for which it was designed, are not covered by the Manduka Guarantee. Also, please keep in mind all warranties and lifetime guarantees are voided if any products are purchased from unauthorized resellers on Amazon other than Manduka Yoga or Amazon.com. We are also unable to provide warranties for any items purchased through eBay.
The site lists acceptable problems for coverage under their guarantee here.
Osprey packs are covered by an “all-mighty” lifetime guarantee:
Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it. We proudly stand behind this guarantee, so much so that it bears the signature of company founder and head designer, Mike Pfotenhauer.
One thing to note, however: this guarantee is valid in the United States. Return and repair policies may vary outside of the United States.
If you have a Polar Bottle and it fails you, the company offers a lifetime guarantee to back up their product. Simply fill out the form and follow instructions for a replacement. And Polar offers free replacements of caps, sport caps and carry loops.
Do you love wearing flip-flops? This company carries a “lifetime of the sole” warranty on its product. Owner Jay Longley started his sandal business in his garage in 1972.
“The sandals will be eligible for warranty until you have worn through anywhere on the top or bottom layer of the sole.”
The website explains the constraints of the return/repair/replacement service, and includes pictures to help you determine if you should send back your damaged flip-flops.
The Big Green Egg
These signature green ceramic cooking systems have almost a cult following, offering a variety of cooking styles from flash-searing to slow cooks. The Big Green Egg also comes with a limited lifetime warranty, stating “Limited Lifetime Warranty for materials and workmanship on all ceramic components (including dome, base, damper top, fire box and fire ring) to the original purchaser or owner who has purchased the EGG from an Authorized Dealer, and has registered their Warranty as required (the “Residential Warranty”). This Warranty is valid for as long as the original purchaser owns the EGG®” Read your warranty carefully, as there are caveats.
We’ve all grown up with Tupperware® brand products, from the mint green Jell-o molds to sandwich keepers. Their products “are warranted by Tupperware against chipping, cracking, breaking or peeling under normal non-commercial use for the lifetime of the product.” There are some limits on the guarantee, so if you have a damaged or defective item, call Customer Care at 800-TUPPERWARE (800-887-7379) for direction.
Vermont Teddy Bear
This Vermont company loves its bears unconditionally. If your bear has an accident, the company repairs it in a “hospital” and returns a healthy bear to you.
All Vermont Teddy Bears are Guaranteed For Life. If anything ever happens to your Bear, you can send it to us here at the factory, and we will nurse him or her back to health at our Bear Hospital.
Every once in a while a tragedy will strike — a dog attack, a chance meeting with a lawn mower. When this happens it is very easy to become upset, lose your cool, maybe even freak out! But NEVER FEAR, health care is here, and we are not just talkin’ any old health care, we are talkin’ FREE, full coverage health care for your Bear’s entire lifetime.
Fill out the “medical form” and include it when you gently pack your naked bear for mailing:
Our trained hospital staff will assess the injury, perform the surgery, and help with physical therapy to get him back into his perfectly chubby shape as soon as possible. If by chance your Bear was too badly injured with no hope of recovery, we will replace your Bear with a new one for FREE!
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For LL Bean, you do have to pay the difference if the replacement item is more expensive BUT they will also pay YOU the difference if the price is less. My father brought some slippers to LL Bean to be replaced. The price was less than what he had originally paid so he got a refund of about $.25. Not much but still excellent customer service.
Two Companies to check out for Lifetime Warranties is REI and Sierra Trading Post.
REI: You can even get a full refund after 10 – 20 or more years or exchange it for a new product (it doesn’t even have to be the same type product). You can do it in the store and then you do not have to worry about paying the shipping, but if you ship it back you do. If there is a difference in price you have to pay that, even if it is the same product unless it is within 30 days.
Side Note: REI resales returns to members and many times there is nothing wrong with the product and they are slashed in price. My wife got a 150 dollar 3 in 1 down jacket for $20 bucks. The return said the zipper was messed up but it wasn’t. I’m betting the person just wanted another jacket. No returns on Garage sale or Scratch and dent sale items
BTW, rei.com – outlet is guaranteed forever but often much much cheaper but you don’t get 10% back on these purchases
REI.com has free shipping for members to your house for orders over $50
You don’t have to be a member at REI but it does help. They keep a record of everything you buy forever so you don’t have to worry about receipts and membership is only a one time $20 dollar fee but you get a 20% off coupon for signing up and then they come often, sometimes more. They also have special sales for members only and you get 10% back on all regular priced items purchased to use towards REI products.
Sierra Trading Post operates their returns in a very similar way, but for most of us we have to ship back and forth but with Sierra it can be a great deal. I bought a pair of Asolo (one of the best brands for backpacking) Hiking boots that were regularly over 200 dollars for 70 dollars. They are an outlet like store so they are a great score and they except returns no matter what for store credit.