The Devil’s in the Detail

Warranties, dilapidations, retention clauses, KPIs… the list is endless when it comes to mechanisms to ensure work is completed on time, to standard, within budget and with some form of come back on the supplier should there be an issue in the future. Whilst this all seems OK and works fairly well in practice, there are times when disputes can end up in the hands of insurers and lawyers, which is when it all turns a bit nasty.

Similarly, all new machinery and vehicles are supplied with some form of warranty which can range from five years commercial use with all parts covered and labour covered, to what seems like – “you’ve used the machine to cut grass! In that case Sir the warranty no longer applies!” A touch cynical I appreciate, but it seems that despite several manufacturers claiming that their products are more reliable (and therefore they are able to offer better warranties), when you come to claim on this it’s a different story – there’s always a clause somewhere in the small print which can scupper what seems like a valid claim.

In fairness to most manufacturers, if you do suffer a component failure and you’ve serviced and operated the machine as per the instructions (and have the supporting information to back this up) then a sensible dialogue can take place to resolve the problem. But beware of the detail; a sticker on the oil filter may not be enough to prove the engine was serviced. Has the service book been stamped? Was the work been done by an approved supplier using the correct oil and a clean spanner? Was the mechanic wearing clean overalls when they did the work and did they wave at the postman on the way in – again – cynical, but in recent experience it does make me wonder!

 1

Like many things in life – beware of the small print

A further word of warning, don’t take the mickey when pushing for a claim under warranty. If you’ve hit something, used a spurious part or not followed the manufacturer’s guidelines, own up and don’t try and blag it – you’ll get found out and the trust will be gone.  Be professional about it; it’ll pay dividends in the long term and will help the supplier or manufacturer to identify any potential issues with a machine or components.

Make sure you have your house in order when it comes to record keeping so that you can prove a vehicle or machine was serviced on time and you have the paperwork to prove it, this also applies to spare parts or components as these too carry a warranty. Where equipment is supplied with a “Commercial Warranty” make sure you understand what this means as it may not cover bouncing up kerbs and mulching of bricks. Similarly if the service schedule on a vehicle says “12,000 miles or before the expiry of 24 months,” be sure of what this actually means. More importantly, make sure the driver understands as failure to appreciate this can be costly.

 23

Don’t take the mickey with warranty claims but if in doubt discuss with the supplier.

There is no doubt that more efficient manufacturing processes and higher standards of quality control make for better products, so warranty failures should be on the decline (at least that’s what we’re told). However this can fall apart if one of the components involved is of inferior quality, so it is important to give feedback. With regard to the small print, I’m not advocating that you read it chapter and verse; just don’t buy a new truck when there’s a Y in the month – only joking!

Angus Lindsay

Angus Lindsay, Group Head of Asset & Fleet Management