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. Take Apple products, for example. Every Apple product comes with a free 90-day guarantee. You can get Apple’s extended warranty by buying AppleCare.
Some companies 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:
JanSport engineers quality, durability, and reliable products. So, if your pack ever breaks down, simply return it to our warranty center. We’ll fix it or if we can’t, we’ll replace it. We stand by our packs for a lifetime and since we’ve been making packs since 1967, that’s a guarantee you can stand by.
The site also notes there is a limited warranty on equipment, and that warranty turnaround time is generally 4 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 January 28, 2013.
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 February 2, 2013, letting me know it had arrived. Annie’s new backpack arrived on our doorstep March 2, 2013.
Lands’ End makes and sells clothing for men, women, children; swimwear; outerwear; shoes; school uniforms; products for the home; and luggage.
I became a Lands’ End customer when I started buying my daughter’s bathing suits there. Of course, kids usually outgrow their duds before you can take advantage of the guarantee. When I eventually used the lifetime warranty, it was for something I’d purchased for myself.
Pros: “Guaranteed. Period.” That’s the headline on the website’s warranty page:
We stand behind our goods and services and trust you will be happy with your purchase. In the event you’re not, we have two words to help you rest easy: Guaranteed. Period.®
“If you’re not satisfied with any item, simply return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.”
Go to the Land’s End website here and choose your country to find return instructions.
Cons: Shipping the broken product back (albeit for free) isn’t the required first step when using Lands’ End’s guarantee — purchasing a replacement product is. So when I wanted to replace that down vest, I needed to actually pay for a replacement. I had to call Lands’ End, since this isn’t something you an easily do via the website. Then, I had to send the damaged vest back. Once Lands’ End received it, they would credit my payment. It all worked out fine in the end, but having to spend up-front to get something that is guaranteed for free felt wrong. But again, Lands’ End did as it promised and credited my Discover card days later.
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, send the item back to L.L. Bean, and it will replace the item with no questions asked. Another option is to visit one of its stores — there are about 30 nationwide. I took my broken L.L. Bean suitcase to the King of Prussia store last year to get a replacement.
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.
My bottom line is this: Though I’ve presented some “cons” above, I support these companies for standing behind their products. I will continue to reward them with my business.
More Companies that offer lifetime guarantees:
Craftsman warranties hand tools, mechanic’s tools and automotive tools for a lifetime. Other tools are covered with limited or one-year warranties.Go to the website for more information on guarantees.
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.
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 The PRO Squared is a multi-purpose mat, it is not included under the Lifetime Guarantee. Should a PRO mat not meet Manduka’s standard of quality at the time it is received, or if it wears out from regular use under normal conditions, we will replace the product. 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.
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.
Polar polypropylene bottles come with a 30-day refund policy. But 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.
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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