Hardware guarantees – are they guaranteed to confuse?

Depending on the hardware you buy – and where you buy it from – you can probably expect it to come with a guarantee of 5, 10, 20 or even maybe 25 years. As a fabricator, you happily pass that guarantee on to your installer and, as an installer, you then happily pass it on to your homeowner.

Everyone in the supply chain is naturally looking for peace of mind – reassurance that they are avoiding the risk of costly remedials by choosing a product which is fully protected by the manufacturer’s guarantee.

How often though do you stop to think what that guarantee actually means? Does it have real substance behind it, or are there some nasty catches buried deep within the small print?

Having just finished a review of hardware guarantees as part of a complete overhaul of Mila’s own offering, we have identified some real confusion and inconsistency in the market.

We’ve found that some of our competitors’ guarantees require either the installer or the homeowner to register the hardware installation online within a certain number of days to kick start the guarantee, some are non-transferable so only the original homeowner can benefit, and some require customers to submit any complaint in writing. We’ve even seen instances where there’s a minimum time limit between registering the guarantee and making a claim.

If you’re an installer, we think there’s a real risk that you could end up paying out on a hardware replacement or a repair in order to keep your customer happy, simply because the guarantee has been invalidated by mistake or you missed something in the small print.

We don’t think that’s fair. At Mila, we’ve just reviewed all our product guarantees to make sure that they remain as honest and transparent as possible – and we’ve made sure there are no hidden catches.

If we say that a product has a 25-year mechanical operation guarantee, then our customers can be confident that it means exactly that. Thankfully, product failures are incredibly rare but, if a product does fail at any time within those 25 years, we will simply ask for photographic evidence or the return of the hardware in question to allow our quality control team to investigate. If it turns out that we are at fault, then we will happily send out a replacement product free of charge – no questions.

Similarly, if we supply stainless steel hardware with a 25-year surface finish guarantee, our customers can relax, safe in the knowledge that, as long as they have fitted that hardware in accordance with our fitting advice, we will replace it if the finish fails.

Obviously, our focus is on continuous quality improvement so it’s vital that our quality and technical teams have the chance to see and analyse any product which has failed out in the field. That way, we can understand and address what’s behind the problem and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It’s certainly not so that we can avoid honouring the guarantee.

The terms of Mila’s guarantees are all published online and on our product literature.  We’ve even standardised our logos so that the guarantees are instantly visible and recognisable in brochures and on packaging. I would urge fabricators and installers to check whether their supplier also publishes their guarantees online and I would definitely encourage them to take a close look at any small print.

Mila is very much committed to our position as an honest and responsible supplier and our transparent position on guarantees is a key element of that. Of course, part of the reason why we can offer such straightforward, no quibble warranties is because we are so confident in the performance and design of our products and the robustness of our quality control procedures. We have our own test centre of course, but we also invest in comprehensive independent testing of products and finishes at the likes of Rotech and Exova.

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