by B.B. Pelletier

We got this comment to last Friday’s blog, and I couldn’t resist making a post about it.

“i make alot of my purchases based on an airgun manufacturer’s warranty. i always lean toward those that offer limited lifetime. i feel like this limits my perspective. are there any manufacturers you would recommend whose warranty period is generally moot, based on their reputation, workmanship, and longevity? even though they might offer 1year, i could expect to get years of uninterrupted satisfaction

Warranties are meaningless!
I used to do the same as this reader. Made my major purchase decisions on the basis of warranties. Then, I began to notice a pattern. When the time came for me to use the warranty, the situation often changed. The happy salesman with his confident words of comfort was replaced by a narrow-eyed bean-counter who thought my sole purpose in life was to put his company out of business. It started with a fishing rod purchased from Orvis.

The fly rod was their premium model. Top o’ the line graphite rod when I purchased it, and I absolutely loved it. Then it broke. Snapped the top section. Oh, well. I figured Orvis, the company that touts itself as a flyfisherman’s paradise, would break their backs making things right for me. That was the start of my first “lesson” in warranties. Seems my rod had only a one-year warranty, and I broke it well into year three. Okay, they got me. But surely such a premium rod as this had parts I could buy? Like a replacement top section? “No, we don’t “make” that model any more.

Turns out they don’t “make” anything but money! They “source” all their products from other countries, and when a product doesn’t sell well or the real manufacturer in China doesn’t want to make it any more, that’s it! No more fly rods. They did give me a cheap pair of binoculars for being bold enough to question their warranty policy (i.e., I was a nuisance), and we parted company. I resolved to never trust warranties again, and I don’t. And, Orvis, this story has been another installment on a lifetime of payback. You see, I am a writer.

That attitude served me well when Apple Computer tried to tell me my brand-new computer was out of the extended warranty eligibility period because it had laid in some musty warehouse for too many months before I bought it – AND the expensive extended warranty I had just paid for and was trying to activate could not be activated! To no credit of their own, they finally buckled when my wife ran the problem high enough on the Apple corporate flagpole.

Then there was the Chrysler minivan that the dealer assured me DID NOT have the problem of a weak automatic transmission that had been reported by so many consumer groups. So, when my transmission blew up one year out of warranty, I was able to look the dealership in the eye and scream their reassuring words back to them – which netted me nothing more than, I suppose, that they didn’t try to sell me an extended warranty on the replacement tranny I had to buy!

You see, I’ve been bitten hard by the warranty bug.

On the other hand…
There was the time I broke a pair of Craftsman channel lock pliers and, when I took them into Sears, the salesman handed me a replacement – no paperwork, no questions asked! Sears doesn’t make hand tools any more than Orvis makes fly rods, but they do know the value of an iron-clad replacement guarantee. Guess which brand of hand tools I’ve bought for the pst 40 years?

Land’s End and L.L. Bean have the best product return policies I know of. Bean actually teaches their culture to other businesses, so they can learn how to improve both their operations and their relations with customers. And, neither of them makes all the products they sell, but they do stand behind them. There are other fine companies with super return policies that you could argue are better than warranties.

What am I saying? Just this – it isn’t WHAT you buy; it’s WHERE you buy it that matters, and the type of technology gets factored in. I bought an extended warranty on my iPod mini, but little did I know Apple was going to discontinue the model six months later. If I had to send it in for repair after that, they would have had to replace it with a completely different model, because the mini isn’t just unrepairable – it’s no longer made! Remember that when you think about that next gee-whiz Swedish PCP semiautomatic that promises the world. It’s a long way to Sweden!

On the other hand, buy the same Swedish rifle from an American dealer with a good reputation for customer service and you are protected as well as can be expected.

Now, some airgun technologies are easier to repair than others. Spring-piston guns, for the most part, are simpler than pneumatics or CO2 guns. When they need fixin’, the job is usually more easily done. The exceptions are all the Diana recoilless piston guns that have the Giss counter-recoil system. Those guns have two pistons that have to be timed exactly if they are to work at all.

Yes, you are limiting your selection by basing decisions on warranties. A strong dealer is just as important as a good warranty. In most cases, dealers are much more flexible. Plus, they’re a lot closer to their customers. Consider that when you buy your next airgun. Know the dealer’s return policy, because some dealers don’t even offer that. Here’s Pyramyd Air’s.