There is something about buying a product that promises a lifetime guarantee that makes people feel great about the purchase. Unfortunately, that guarantee may not entail everything that the consumer believes is part of the package. To be fair, no one is telling an untruth when referring to a product as carrying a lifetime guarantee. However, there may be some difference of opinion as to whose lifetime is the focus of the guarantee. While some people tend to think that a guarantee of this type provides for complete product replacement for as long as the individual owns the item, that is rarely the case.
When looking at the fine print of the average guarantee, it quickly becomes evident that the lifetime under consideration is the number of years that the product is reasonably expected to last. This time frame is usually determined by field research conducted by the manufacturer. Research on the product will take into account such factors as average frequency of usage, the length of time that the materials used to create the product are expected to last, and whether or not the product has seen more use that is deemed to be acceptable.
Lifetime guarantees may also focus on the duration of ownership. For instance, the local muffler shop may offer a lifetime guarantee for the purchase of a new muffler. Looking at the fine print will often reveal that the guarantee only applies as long as the customer owns the vehicle that received the new muffler. Once the vehicle is sold to a new owner, the guarantee is null and void. The same is true in many cases with purchases like new roofs, portable storage buildings, and expensive jewelry.
A lifetime guarantee is different from a warranty, in that warranties tend to offer partial or full replacement coverage on components that make up the item, within a given set of circumstances. As an example, a warranty on a wristwatch may cover replacement of the clockwork within the watch, as long as the consumer did not break the water tight seal or choose to stay in the water for a couple of hours with that water resistant watch. Engaging in any behavior or usage that the manufacturer deems to be beyond the scope of how the product is to be used renders a warranty null and void. The lifetime guarantee, on the other hand, will provide full replacement within the perimeters determined by the manufacture to define what is meant by a lifetime.
There is nothing wrong with purchasing a product that carries a lifetime guarantee. In many ways, it is better than a basic warranty. However, it is important to understand exactly what is understood by the guarantee offer before the purchase is made. Under those circumstances, the consumer can make an intelligent and informed decision about whether to buy the product or look for something else.