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I’ve bought a number of valuable items from Brighton, including a belt and a watch with the darling heart symbol. Their products are not cheap; in fact I would say they border on expensive. But with a “lifetime warranty,” so they say, why not buy their products? I can give you at least one reason: they really don’t mean your lifetime, they mean their lifetime.

My belt is worn and I need to replace the band on my watch, so I contacted the company. They guarantee that their products will last and promise to repair them, so this should have been no problem.

But the company said my watch and belt had been discontinued. It could not be repaired.

What happened to the life-time warranty? I don’t remember seeing any disclaimer. I might just as well buy junk or “look alike” Brighton, and discard it when it looks bad. This way I can afford to buy a new one.

Contrast this to a Louis Vuitton satchel I purchase from Bloomingdale’s 20 years ago. It has been repaired so many times I’m embarrassed to send it back. I wasn’t looking for it to be done free; I just wanted it done. I believe the bag cost $250 but I never thought they would continue to repair it. Now that’s a warranty!

Other companies don’t seem to even think about what they’re promising. An offer at a local dry cleaner got me to walk in the door – but their customer service had me walking right back out. Customer service begins when you keep your promises.  (Check out this article on customer service.)

Are you keeping your promises?

The sign in the window said: shirts washed and starched for ninety nine cents if you bring in a piece of dry cleaning. I thought it was a terrific idea so I took two items and drove 9 miles to give it a try. Keep in mind I have a dry cleaner 4 doors down from my house. After driving out of my way, I found out they won’t accept women’s shirts because they don’t fit the ironing machine. Is this my fault? The sign has been in the window for seven years. Am I the only one to complain?

What are your promises to your customers? Do you stand by your products, willing to repair them forever? You don’t have to offer free repairs, but what are you saying about your product if you abandon the customer who wants to keep using it? All I want is a guarantee that you’re going to be there to talk with me and give me guidance.

My car is a 1998 two-door Lexus with 198,000 miles. When I take it in, no one says it’s too old to be repaired. Is a car different? I think from now on I should ask, how long before you stop talking to me?

Customers don’t want everything for free. We just want to know that someone will stand behind their purchase and at least talk with them if there’s a problem.

Maybe I have unrealistic expectations. But before I buy something “pricey” with a lifetime warranty, I’m going to ask, “Whose lifetime?”

Lisbeth Calandrino has been providing customer service and sales solutions to businesses for the past twenty years. To have her train or speak at your business, contact her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518.495.5380.

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