How To Replace A Broken Product

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Eventually, everything breaks. Sometimes it breaks after a long successful life and sometimes it breaks after a few rough uses (or not so rough uses); but eventually everything breaks. It’s only those times when someone breaks far quicker than we expected are we actually bothered by it. If you use a broom for five years and one day the handle snaps off, you probably are pretty satisfied with your purchase. If you use a broom for five days and the handle snaps off, you’re probably going to be pretty upset. So, what do you do?

1. Contact the manufacturer
Before you do anything, call or email the manufacturer of the product and ask them if they can do anything to help you. More often than not, a company will be willing to send you a replacement or offer up some sort of repair services absolutely free. Recently, after reading a Consumerist post about OXO free replacement of a palm brush, I emailed the kind folks about an insulated coffee travel mug that had cracked and they promised a replacement once I emailed it them. What happened was that the mug had cracked in the microwave and we didn’t know it wasn’t microwave safe (but they’d replace it anyway because they’re such a nice company). Considering the mug was like $8 and shipping will be $4, I don’t know if we’ll actually send it back but it’s nice to know OXO offered.

In writing the email or call, be courteous and respectful because you really want the company to be nice and send you something without having to deal with any paperwork or hassle. If you act indignant as if you deserve to have the product replaced, you’re less likely to be successful because the CSR’s own emotions may come into play – you don’t want that. You’re asking for a favor, act like it.

2. Contact your manufacturer with warranty in hand
Let’s say the nice asking didn’t work, time to pull out the warranty if one applies. Usually this will get you results but will take a little more time. If the warranty has already expired and it was by a few days, maybe sweet talking a CSR will get you the response you want – otherwise it’s time for step 3. Some companies, like Crucial memory, have lifetime warranties and they’ll take care of you without any problems.

3. Call your credit card company and activate their warranty
I always buy major items with my American Express card because it doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year up to $10,000 per claim through their Buyer’s Assurance Plan (details). Many other credit card companies offer this as well including major players like Citi. In fact, if your card is a Visa Signature card, it’s likely covered by the Warranty Manager, unless it’s a Chase card which recently discontinued it. The same applies for Gold and Platinum MasterCard holders. Sadly I couldn’t find anything from Discover Card.

This only applies to products you buy with that card; so be sure to always buy with a card that offers this sort of protection and then you can call on it if you need to. When you do need to call, call your credit card company first, or you can call the issuer’s direct line:

  • Visa Product Protection eClaims Customer Service: 800-882-8057
  • MasterCard Assistance: 800-622-7747
  • American Express Buyer’s Assurance Plan: 800-225-3750
  • Discover Card: Where are you guys? No policy?

If all else fails, send a letter to Ben at the Consumerist and they’ll be able to work their magic for you. 🙂

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2 Responses to “How To Replace A Broken Product”

  1. Jeff says:

    I’m a big fan of emailing companies. I tugged on a drawstring on a pair of shorts and ripped the hem within 10 minutes of first putting them on. Lee sent me an envelope to mail them in and replaced the shorts six months later when I finally sent them back. Energizer sent a $10 coupon after I complained that one AA battery corroded while still the package. Obviously, I’ll keep patronizing these companies.

  2. I’m in the market fora new credit card and I heard some friends talking about the extended warranty plan by Amex. Looks like I might be getting an Amex card now.

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