(this article first appeared in its original form in the Oct. 23, 1998 PoolLetter)
You should be very, VERY wary of
swimming pool product companies that offer 15, 20, or even 30 year warranties. Even with great
companies, long warranties are generally written in such a way that the
warranty doesn't mean much after a couple of years. For example, I've sold
Loop-Loc covers for years, and think very highly of their products. But I
can tell you that their pro-rated warranty, which applies after the first
year or so, doesn't mean much. By the time you do the decductions, you're
usually be better off buying a new cover. But, many of these
companies with the decades long warranties are less than 10 years old! What
possible value can a 30 year warranty have, when it's offered by a 7 year
In my opinion, these warranties are often used as a smoke screen to hide inferior products. Some are written so that it's virtually impossible to assert a warranty claim, after the first year. Others warrant everything EXCEPT any of the things that might go wrong in real life.
There are exceptions of course. I recently had my 35-year old Parker fountain pen repaired under warranty. But the Parker Pen brand is over 100 years old, and even though it's now owned by Rubbermaid, they've continued to honor the lifetime warranties in order to protect the brand.
Of course, there are no 100 year old swimming pool brands. I'm not sure
there are any true 40 year old swimming pool brands. So, in my opinion, that
20, 30 or 50 year warranty some companies offer is just a gimmick.
Frankly, I'd encourage you to view a long product warranty -- whether it is from a swimming pool company or not -- as a warning, not a feature. If you do buy a product with a long warranty, read the warranty carefully . . . and make sure the company has been around longer than the warranty it's offering!
Actually, the longer the warranty, the more times you should read it! When you do, think through what it will take to assert a warranty claim . . . and then consider whether this is even possible.
The bottom line here is pretty simple, and doesn't apply just to swimming pool products: you should buy a product or service because you think it's a good product or service and think you aren't likely to need the warranty. In real life, warranties don't often mean much after the first year.
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