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Cheap Warranty

Today I replaced the flapper valve in one of my toilets because it had been leaking. As I was shopping for the replacement, mindful of the bountiful cornucopia of competing products even for such a mundane item, I settled on the one whose package proudly boasted a five-year guarantee: "If it fails within five years of purchase, return to Lavelle. It will be replaced at no charge."

There are several amusing things to note about this warranty.

Flrstly, I don't think flapper valves fail very often. I expect most any flapper valve would have a good chance of lasting five years. The one I was replacing, for example, had endured six years of daily use.

Even if the valve does fail, in order to satisfy the terms of the warranty the customer would have to have retained the product packaging and receipt in order to make a proper warranty claim. No one is going to keep those things around, especially for several years. (In fact I had to fish the package out of the trash when I realized it would be fun to write about this!)

Finally, a warranty claim would probably take a couple weeks to process. Who would tolerate having a toilet disconnected for so long when the solution is a valve that costs less than $5? It's much less time and hassle to simply buy another one than to pursue the warranty. Plus, if the valve did fail quickly, you're unlikely to want to replace it with another one just like it, which you'd expect to also fail quickly.

I feel confident predicting that the total number of warranty claims the manufacturer will have to fulfill is exactly zero. The offer of warranty on an item like this is a pure marketing device, designed to make the product stand out from its competition while costing the manufacturer nothing at all.

Success! Man, I love capitalism.


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Tiny Island