Warranty terms in manual

Terms of warranty? Not necessarily in your manual

When introducing a brand new product on the market, a manufacturer should not only include a professionally written manual. Terms of warranty should also be part ‘part of the package’. However, it is not that easy to write warranty terms that at the same time are clear-cut and friendly in nature. When offering warranty for your product, it also raises the question: where to publish the terms of warranty? Would it be wise to publish the warranty terms in the manual or not?

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Time limit of at least 2 years

Terms of warranty create trust when engaging with your (potential) customer. This is certainly the case when you decide to publish your warranty terms prominently, for example on the back of your receipt. But you could also publish your warranty terms in a manual, or even in a separate booklet or on a separate card.

There is no clear-cut answer to the question “Where to publish your terms of warranty?”.  The EU Directive on Consumer Sales and Guarantees does not give any direction in this respect. The directive is clear in one respect though: the length of time for a warranty should be at least 2 years.

Apart from this time limit, a manufacturer is free to write down its own terms of warranty. A manufacturer is also free to choose his own tone of voice when publishing warranty terms. The best tone of voice is one where the manufacturer can combine clarity with friendliness. To strike a balance between the two certainly isn’t easy. However, specialized companies can help in this regard, whether you would opt to publish your terms of warranty in a manual or outside of a manual.

Duty to inform on the part of the manufacturer

If the relevant European directive lacks specificity, where, then, is it concrete enough to be of any value? Apart from the time lmit of 2 years, it is perfectly clear on another obligation: a manufacturer has to inform the (potential) customer of the existence of his warranty terms. Also, the terms of warranty should be readily available if a customer would want to read them. This does not necessarily mean that warranty terms should be in a manual. It even doesn’t mean the manufacturer should print the warranty terms on paper.

However, because of the duty to inform, terms of warranty should always be available in a written version. A verbal version won’t do. Also, a manufacturer has to be able to print the warranty terms on paper. This is because of the simple fact that not everyone has digital equipment to read the warranty terms online or as a PDF download.

Most manufacturers prefer printing their warranty terms on paper so as to avoid any misunderstanding about the availability of them. For example, they might add a separate card. Or they might opt for publication of the warranty terms in the manual. However, the latter is not that popular. Most manufacturers want to give their terms of warranty a very distinctive place in their marketing mix. By attracting attention to the warranty, they want to build up trust in their relationship with the (potential) customer.

If a manufacturer would opt for publication of the terms of warranty in its manual(s), it is more difficult to attract attention to them. After all, a manual is not primarily meant for presenting warranty terms. It is meant to instruct the user. Thus, terms of warranty in a manual will always be secondary of  nature. The instructions will be of primary concern to the user. If a manufacturer wants his terms of warranty to stand out, he should not opt for publication in the manual. If he would nevertheless decide to publish the warranty terms in a manual, he should make sure that their place is rather prominent.

No explicit warranty? Then an implied warranty

What would happen if a manufacturer doesn’t publish its own terms of warranty? Then a new provision will kick in. Since every product should carry with it its own warranty, the so-called ‘implied warranty’ will take over the role of the warranty that the manufacturer decided not to provide. Here, the time limit also is 2 years. When the product is not functioning according to its intention and the user is not at fault, the implied warranty guarantees repair or replacement. Even if the manufacturer does not provide an explicit warranty.

However, this way the manufacturer throws away a very real possibility to build up trust with the (potential) customer. Also, the manufacturer is no longer in a position to influence the terms of warranty himself.

Some good and bad examples of warranty terms

Terms of warranty can provide manufacturers with a Unique Selling Point. This USP has two characteristics: the content and the presentation. Both provide some good and some bad examples how to write terms of warranty.

To start with the content. One should formulate warranty terms as clear-cut as possible while at the same time staying friendly. For example, one could write: “You are always entitled to a repair or replacement of your product when it clear you are not to blame.” This sounds much better than: “A client can only request a replacement or a repair at no cost if research by the manufacturer makes perfectly clear that the client used the product according to its original intentions.”

As for the presentation: giving a warranty the character of an official certificate might be a good idea. But you should not overdo it. A certificate printed with a gold or silver lining might be too much for the customer. The customer might conclude presentation is much more important for the manufacturer than simply providing good warranty terms and… good products. This is exactly the kind of impression a manufacturer should not be after.

Concluding your terms of warranty with a signature is a very appropriate way to build up trust, though.

Let Manualise write your terms of warranty

A company that knows its way around when it comes to both content and presentation, is Manualise. This Dutch company specializes in setting up all kinds of manuals, with or without the accompanying terms of warranty. Would a manufacturer like to include his warranty terms in his manual(s), then Manualise can provide a 2-in-1 solution. We can write your manual(s), but we also have a unique plan to help you with precisely the terms of warranty you want your customers to read.

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