Product warranties: what to look out for | NVC Lighting

Product warranties: what to look out for | NVC Lighting

Product warranties – a true case of caveat emptor? So says Phil Brown, Director of Product & Marketing at NVC Lighting.

A customer focussed and fair warranty protects the end user for a reasonable period from the date of installation, assuming the product purchased is fit for purpose and has been installed properly by a qualified professional. At face value many warranty policies look the same, but even experienced buyers know it can be dangerous to assume they are. Small print should always be carefully checked to make sure you’re actually getting what you think you are. Electrical specifiers or installers who are also qualified lawyers are rare, making it hard for most to really understand the policy they might be signing up to.

More or less?

Small print is quite often not there for the installers or your customers’ benefit. Indeed, a good rule of thumb I’ve learnt over my many years in the lighting industry is that the more small print there is, the less cover you’re likely to be getting!

Another key aspect of the warranty is what you actually get if you make a claim – you need to ask whether the supplier will ensure the issue is resolved quickly and will cover all reasonable associated costs without fuss. Blue chip suppliers can offer fair warranties with confidence and limited small print, knowing they have quality in their products and their processes so that failures are rare.

Some low tier suppliers may not have a policy and will instead just commit to trying to pass on the benefit of any warranty given by the originally manufacturer – not exactly certain or giving confidence to anyone. It’s always puzzled me as to how a supplier can talk about offering quality, product reassurance, customer service etc. in their marketing messages and then fail to back that up with a warranty.

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Final word of warning

A long warranty is great in principle, but the company offering it needs to still be trading when you make the warranty claim for it to have any value. This could be several years down the line, so buying from a reputable and established business, even at a slightly higher price, will often offer better overall value. So let the buyer beware and, to borrow a phrase from a famous 1990s advertising campaign, make sure “it does exactly what it says on the tin”.


● Warranty period starting from the date of manufacture or the date of sale to the distributor rather than to you. This could easily turn what you think is a two-year warranty into one-year instead, given lengthy supply chains.

● Unrealistic restriction on the number of hours of usage of the product effectively making it unusable in many commercial environments, schools or other public buildings.

● Requirement to register the product with the supplier at the time of purchase, which is not usually discovered until it’s too late.

● Component exclusions or variations again making it effectively useless as a guarantee for a light fitting.

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