Caroline Cooper

Caroline Cooper is managing director of West Midlands-based family business Roman Bathrooms, which has been established for almost 30 years. Caroline is an award-winning designer who has built her reputation on excellence in design and customer service.

Manufacturers should wise up on their warranties

Posted 25th Jul 2013

There has been much debate recently about how well manufacturers support retailers and much of this is centred on the internet and how technology is affecting the way we all sell. There is no doubt the market is changing and we all have to adapt to survive, but there is another issue that I have experienced as having an extremely negative impact on my bottom line – warranties.

Many manufacturers offer a warranty for their products, offering reassurance to the homeowner that they are buying a quality product. However, what they do not realise is that there is often a clause hidden away in the small print limiting their warranty. A typical example is for a high-quality tap, guaranteed for 15 years, but only having its moving parts covered for 12 months. The reality is that it is only the moving parts that would fail, which is misleading to say the least.

In addition to this, there is a more common problem with warranties, in that the manufacturer will replace the defect product but not the cost of removing and replacing it from the completed bathroom. In most cases the product has been installed and to remove it is time consuming – my fitters, for example, have to go to the site and remove and replace the product but make good any material that was damaged in the process.

A recent example I had to deal with involved a well-known company replacing a worktop for a customer, which could have cost them as little as £14. To fit it for the customer, we had to disconnect the taps and basin, remove one row of tiles, re-cut the worktop and fit it, refit the basin and tap, replace and supply tiles and reseal at a cost to us of £160.

When we outlined this problem to the company, it suggested we add a surcharge to our quotations to cover such conditions. This, however, is not a viable solution as a client may have anything up to 12 different manufacturers within their order. The question is why should we or our clients have to pay for failure of products?

I would like to ask manufacturers who give such guarantees on their products to face up to their responsibilities and start to support independent retailers. We build our business reputation on excellence in customer service, something some manufacturers are failing to achieve.

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