limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

I think it's about time to establish a more formal warranty policy for my lights and I'd like your feedback before I post it to the store. Many people participated in my first warranty thread and I've incorporated some of your feedback, some things I've learned while building the lights, and other manufacturer's policies. I want to make it as simple as possible, plain English, no fine print. Here goes:

The content is after the jump...
Refunds
  1. Since each light is custom made for each individual, no refunds can be offered. This might sound harsh but it's standard for custom made products. Please feel free to ask any and all questions before purchasing. I try to represent my products completely and accurately. 
Warranty on materials and workmanship
  1. I personally warrant my lighting instruments to be free from (gross) defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product (regardless of the owner) or the lifetime of the company...whichever comes first. Hey, I'm just being practical.  
  2. This includes failure of the LED module. The LED is not covered if the light has been otherwise severely damaged, but it can be replaced for the cost of components, labor, and shipping. 
  3. Since this is a hand made product, minor cosmetic defects in the surface and/or finish should be expected and are not covered by the warranty. I do not attempt to remove all "machining marks" from the light so you should expect to see evidence of the machining process. 
Warranty on electronics and components
  1. LED drivers, batteries, chargers, and charger adapters are covered for a period of 1 year after purchase. This applies only to random "failure" and not failure because of physical "damage." I reserve the right to differentiate between failure and damage. 
  2. Batteries will not be covered if the safety circuitry has been tripped as a result of over-charging or over-discharging. I can tell. Do not continue to use the light once the "low battery warning" has been activated. Feel free to use your own charger, but if you use the Xtar MP-1 (that I sell) over-charging should not be an issue. 
Warranty on "wear" items
  1. Wear items like o-rings, front glass windows, switches, and switch boots are not covered under warranty. However, if you send the light back I'm happy to service the light for the cost of components and shipping. 
  2. You must keep the threads and o-rings lubricated and clean to prevent damage to the light. I highly recommend you purchase the "maintenance kit" because these lights require preventative maintenance. It's like changing the oil in your car...you don't have to do it, but it will keep it from breaking down. 
Upgrades and modifications
  1. If you would like your light upgraded or modified, I'm happy to do so for the cost of components, labor, and shipping. Contact me and we'll talk about price. 
Catastrophic Damage
  1. It happens. If your light suffers catastrophic damage, I'm happy to repair it for the cost of components, labor, and shipping. Contact me and we'll talk about price.
Warranty resolution
  1. You must contact me in advance if you would like to make a warranty claim. 
  2. Warranty options in order of preference include: repair, component replacement, complete replacement. I will choose the best option, at my discretion. I'm a fair guy so you should expect a fair deal. For example, if there is a problem in the tailcap I will not replace the entire light. 
  3. In all cases you must pay for shipping the light (or other item) back to me. Most warranty claims are the result of operator error, not product defects. Hopefully if you have to pay for shipping you'll actually check to see if you installed the battery backwards or not. 
The "don't be a jerk" clause
  1. I'm just one guy and I do the best work I can. If you have a problem and you are nice about it, I'll go out of my way to exceed your expectations. If you have a problem and you are a jerk about it, consider your warranty null and void. Seriously. I don't have the time or patience to deal with unreasonable people, and since I'm making the rules, that's my rule. 
Okay, so what do you think? Too much? Too little? Too wacky? Please comment! I'm gearing up for a webiste upgrade in the very near future and would like to incorporate this information. Thanks in advance for your help! 

6 comments:

  1. Kendall the CarpentryHeroMay 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    I think your warranty is reasonable, I'm a huge fan of that last bit LMAO
    Jerk Clause lol

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  2. I think it's pretty interesting to try to engage with people on a very basic, human level. It's like an old-fashioned contract bound by only a handshake. I like it and the values it stands for. The question is - will people a) read it? and b) be reasonable? I guess you will find out!

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  3. I think the "don't be a jerk" clause is a welcome counterpoint to Apple's "surprise and delight" clause, which caused me to replace iPods for a great number of idiots, jerks, and unreasonable people.

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  4. I think you are right, the no return policy is a bit harsh, especially since while these are custom, they are not customized with a name engraved or like that, they could easily be resold assuming returned as new. I know for me it felt like a bit of a gamble to buy one as I don't know the difference between 100 and 500 lumens and your quality, at least initially I think allowing returns would make it feel like less of a gamble to potential clients. I know that for me it makes no difference, as a proud owner of one of these you will never NEVER get it back.

    The only other items I would clarify is your sec. 2, Item 2 about the LED Drivers it seems to conflict with Sec. 3, Item 1. First one says you will repair them at cost, second is they have a 1 year warranty, that seems a tiny bit confusing, I do realize what you are saying but i had to think about it.

    I do like the jerk clause, there should be more warranties with that in it.

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  5. Your warranty policy seems very fair and reasonable with content and format that are easily comprehended. Offering a lifetime warranty speaks volumes about the confidence you have in your products and hopefully translates into increased sales.
    Have you thought about having a product registration process? I realize you will have the purchaser's information, but some lights may be given as gifts and you would have no way of contacting those customers. I could forsee the need to communicate warranty issues, product upgrades and promoting sales promotions.

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  6. Hey Cheryl, I've thought about it. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

    My take at this point: on average, people don't usually register their products. That's part of the reason for a warranty policy that is not tied to the original owner. I realize this doesn't cover every eventuality.

    As far as communicating with customers, I "hope" they will sign up for my mailing list if they are interested in being contacted. Do you think a voluntary sign up is significantly different from a "registration process?" It certainly may be different from a customer perspective. Please let me know what you think!

    Mikey, thanks for your input. One reason for my draconian policy is that, as a one man show, I can't really afford the time a cost to deal with returns in cases where customers didn't undertake due care and diligence before buying. I wanted to note again, other builders in my category do not offer refunds (that I know of). I take your point though, in terms of a refund lowering the barrier to purchasing.

    Given the above, what do you think my return policy should be?

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