Numerous times each day, we get questions about warranties from people like you. They are looking for answers about which ones are the best, which are the worst, and which companies truly stand behind their products.
Sadly we also hear about many horror stories where so-called “warranties” are specifically designed to be cost-prohibitive to ever claim — or require so much red-tape, you would waste hours trying to track down info that was thrown away months or years ago.
There is a bright side though — through research, we have found and verified numerous companies that not only don’t play those “games” with the consumer — they actively try and streamline the process & will replace warrantied items truly “free-of-charge”.
Just as you probably watch or read our reviews prior to purchasing a tool…..you should also be verifying the warranty procedures with the companies that make them. In doing so, it will definitely help you realize who you should be buying from & who you should be avoiding at all costs. That being said, no company is going to have a never-changing policy — and even though today they might be horrible, tomorrow or next year they could turn around and start backing up their tools like they should.
We actually have tested tool warranties with MANY companies, and have gotten many replies. Some good, some horrible. As a preface to this, keep in mind that we do not state that we are tool reviewers, or that we are researching their policies. Instead, we pose as a standard consumer that has a broken tool & wait for replies.
Here is a list of some of the back-and-forth conversations we have had (certain company names omitted for privacy reasons) :
- Company 1 : We called the 1-800 #, and asked for the warranty dept. After a 15 minute hold time, a lady answered the phone and asked how she could help. We explained that we had a broken pair of pliers & would like them exchanged under the “lifetime warranty”. She told us “you must return them to the store that you bought them from”. We informed her that the store was over 60 miles away one-way, and that would be a 120 mile round trip — and asked if they could send them directly. She refused, and said that “we do not deal with customers directly & you must go to the store to return them”. We asked why they had a warranty dept, if they wont warranty anything. She informed us that it was to direct people back to the point of sale. Warranty score = 0/10
- Company 2: We called the 1-800#, a receptionist answered on the 1st ring. We asked for the warranty dept and were transferred — less than 15 seconds on hold, and our call was answered. They asked what the problem was, and we said “a broken socket — split down the side”. They asked how it broke, and we said “changing a tire”. He apologized, gave me his email and asked for me to email him a picture of the socket and my address — he would send a replacement out today. There was no socket — but the customer service blew me away. Zero hassle, zero pressure, 100% great customer service. Which company was this? TEKTON. Warranty score = 10/10
- Company 3 : We called the 1-800#, and after a series of prompts got through to a human. Explained that our drill was broken and it would not turn on — battery fully charged, drill dead. They put us on hold 4 times, with at minimum 5 minutes waits between. At last after much back-and-forth, we were told to drive over 150 miles to a service center for “evaluation” — or we could ship it (at our expense) to the service center. Explaining that this made zero financial sense, because it would take all day & a tank of gas (+ missing work) to drive there and back — or we would have to spend a lot of money at UPS/Fedex. The customer care rep had the “not my problem attitude” — and repeatedly said “is there anything else I can help with”. We then asked to speak with a supervisor, who had a bigger attitude — and accused us of intentionally breaking the drill to “try and get a new one —- we see it all the time”. Needless to say, we do NOT review this companies products. Warranty score = 0/10
- Company 4 : We called the 1-800# about a damaged power tool and got through immediately. The lady was very nice, and explained we simply needed to log onto the website, fill out a form, and print a pre-paid shipping label. They would handle all the shipping charges & most likely it would be fixed and returned within a week. We did just that, and in less than 10 minutes had the tool boxed up and on the way to Fedex. One week later a new tool arrived in a sealed box. Zero hassle & great customer service. Which company? Milwaukee Tools. Warranty Score = 10/10
- Company 5 : We called the 1-800# and after a couple prompts, were connected with a human. We asked for the warranty dept, and were transferred. After a few rings, the customer care agent asked how they could help & we explained that we had defect with a new socket that came in a set we bought. The concave portion was removed from the base (normally flat) -vs- the top where the nut/bolt go. Most likely it would not have effected the performance, but it was not consistent with the other sockets in the set (being a defect). He apologized, asked for my name/address/email. I replied to his email with a picture of the socket, and a new one was shipped out the same day. 2 days later it arrived —- free of charge. Which company? Sunex Tools. Warranty Score = 10/10
The procedures for each company will vary greatly. Sometimes this is a result of a new or untrained employee —- sometimes it is by design to prevent warranty claims at all costs. Certain companies want to pocket the added cost that people are willing to pay for a warranty (vs tools without them) — others value the relationship with a customer (you), and go out of their way to keep you happy.
Sadly, as with any business — there is going to be theft, waste, abuse. Some manufacturers are very uneasy about expanding their warranty departments, since they feel it is going to open them up to people making false claims to (in essence) steal from them. Unfortunately it is the honest consumer who suffers. Safeguards can easily be put in place to limit that — for example, if one person or address has 5+ claims/year — they can require that they mail in the broken tools. This limits abuse, and keeps a level playing field for all the honest people out there.
Aside from the added expense of mailing off broken tools — there is also the factor of your time. Think about it like this…..you make $15/hr…..the post office is 15 minutes away, and you have to drive there and back (and buy postage) to send the $10 wrench off for warranty. It will cost you $7.50 in time (that you otherwise could be working) + gas money + postage —- that $10 wrench is now costing you $15-$20 to replace! This is why many companies require you to send it back. They know it is cost-prohibitive & they know unless you are stupid, you will just throw it away and buy a new one.
Good companies (such as TEKTON or Sunex) dont play these games. They allow you to email pictures and get replacements without mailing anything off —- and without wasting your time. It breaks, they eat the cost, and you get back to work quickly.
Power tools are a different animal all together, since I do realize that they need to physically get the tool into a repair facility to test it and fix it. It would make zero sense for Milwaukee to send out replacement tools, when most likely a solder joint or switch went bad. They do however stand behind their tools & will pay for shipping BOTH WAYS! Zero money out of your pocket & they proudly claim that they have a 5-day maximum turnaround time. That is quicker than it will be before your tool truck driver even comes back by the shop —- and if you have a M18 FUEL (instead of a truck brand impact) —- you’d be back to work, before the other guy even has his broken impact picked up.
RIDGID Power Tools — which are sold exclusively at the Home Depot are unique in the fact that they are covered with a LSA – Lifetime Service Agreement. As long as you register them within 90 days of purchase, you are qualified — and once your info is verified, you will be covered with Free batteries, Free parts, and Free service — For Life! If you are a contractor, DIYer, or homeowner…..think about how much just the batteries for your tools cost! If you buy a combo kit — they will replace the batteries for your LIFETIME. One battery can be $100+….just think how many multiple batteries will be over time. (*only batteries bought as part of a combo kit are covered —- NOT batteries bought by themselves).
What it boils down to is research. You wouldn’t buy a car without researching it…..don’t buy tools without doing the same thing. Remember you will always read & hear “horror stories” from disgruntled people who usually didn’t follow the rules and think complaining will make them get their way —- those versions of events are typically embellished at a minimum — and completely false a lot of time.
As companies transition into this digital world, we expect the warranty processes to continually get easier. Because when informed (as you are) and given a choice — you wont waste your money on products that companies wont stand behind — you are going to go with the companies that stand with you.