What does a lifetime guarantee really mean?
We’ve all been there—we’re about to purchase an item, when the salesperson lets us know that the amount we’re worried about paying is completely worth it because there is a lifetime guarantee that comes with it. We buy the product, thinking that we’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth—especially when it comes with that great guarantee. But then we get to thinking: What exactly does a lifetime guarantee mean?
Does it mean that the product is protected for our lifetime? For the lifetime of the company? Or just the lifetime of the product? These are valid questions, and many people find that when they look into the exact meaning of “lifetime guarantee,” the timeframe intended when a company says they’ll cover something for a lifetime is much shorter than consumers think.
A lifetime guarantee differs from company to company, though when most companies say this, they really mean the lifetime of the product only. The problem then becomes—how many years is this exactly? Cars with a lifetime guarantee have a large range of years they could last depending on how an owner takes care of it. Because of this, some states such as California are requiring stores and companies to specifically state a year limit in which their product will be covered under a lifetime guarantee.
Because the meaning of a lifetime guarantee lacks any kind of specific meaning, many people are finding it difficult to know if it’s worth the money needed to invest in a product with a lifetime guarantee. Before you jump headlong into something with a lifetime guarantee, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are better informed on the terms of a lifetime agreement.
You should first check to see if the product itself states specifically how long a lifetime guarantee will last for. Some products will list a specific year amount, such as a lifetime guarantee up to seven years, or even more specifically the terms in which the product will be covered. Most of the time, however, the terms in which the lifetime guarantee is valid won’t be described. If this is the case, then it’s time to go to plan B.
The next thing you should do is to contact the company themselves. You can ask their customer service line what the terms of their lifetime guarantee is and they will tell you. The federal government has made it illegal for companies not to have a policy when it comes to lifetime guarantees, so all representatives should be able to tell you what they are. In the rare case of someone refusing or not being able to tell you what the terms are, ask for a manager.
Being an informed consumer is the best way to ensure that you’re not being swindled into paying something that you’re not receiving. If a product comes with a lifetime guarantee, make sure that you know the terms of this guarantee before purchasing the product. The best way to protect yourself from being taken advantage of is to have the information needed to make a good decision.