Lifetime Guarantee; what does it really mean?
There is something about buying a product with a Lifetime Guarantee that instils confidence in the consumer. However, when you take a closer look at the small print is it really that straight forward?
Although the term Lifetime Guarantee may offer a certain amount of peace of mind, there are usually limitations as to what is actually covered. In the case of surgical instruments this kind of warranty only covers any manufacturing defects; typically faulty materials or workmanship (it would not cover fair wear and tear or misuse). You would have to consider that surely any manufacturing defects of this nature would be detected during the first twelve months of use anyway, possibly even after the first decontamination and sterilisation cycle? Therefore, these problems would also be covered by any reputable manufacturer as part of their standard guarantee, be that twelve months or five years. Is there really any value in offering a Lifetime Guarantee or is it just a marketing gimmick?
The term ‘lifetime’ is quite ambiguous, as this period cannot be clearly defined. The life of a reusable surgical instrument is difficult to establish, as the quality of the products on offer vary so much. The quality of the instrument in the first place is the determining factor as to how long it will last. The materials which are used and the skills of the manufacturers and their processes have an enormous impact on the quality of the finished product. As does the frequency and nature of use, and how they are maintained once they are in operation. All these contributory factors mean that as a manufacturer it is difficult to answer the question as to what the lifetime of a product actually is.
At Platts & Nisbett we are passionate about quality. In fact we are so proud of our workmanship we guarantee it for Five Years. In addition to this we offer a Free Lifetime Sharpening service on many of our orthopaedic instruments – that is how confident we are. We stand by the quality of our surgical instruments and our guarantee is clear.
However, there is nothing to stop a company refusing to replace a faulty instrument that has a lifetime guarantee if they tell you it has exceeded its lifetime. As mentioned before, it is so difficult to ascertain what its lifetime is. If a consumer is misled into buying a substandard surgical instrument purely because it comes with a lifetime guarantee then surely this is wrong? It is however not illegal, but maybe unethical? In the long term it is false economy to buy equipment that may continually fail and then have to be replaced at your expense. When thinking about how to spend your ever decreasing budgets, please consider what kind of warranty you are actually being offered and the quality of product and service that comes with it. When something seems too good to be true it usually is!