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Blog > How to Qualify a Common Area Fixture Fabricator Part III; the Warranty
19 Aug 2016
How to Qualify a Common Area Fixture Fabricator Part III; the Warranty

This is the third in a series of Blog Posts on how to qualify a fixture fabricator. In this posting, I discuss the role of the manufacturer’s warranty in the qualification process. Let’s begin with the written warranty. Most provide a term of one year. Exclusions (things not covered) may include:

  • failures due to misuse,
  • electrical components which may be warrantied for a shorter term,
  • unusual environmental conditions,
  • severe weather damage,
  • unapproved alteration of the fixture,
  • and ordinary wear and tear to name a few.

The last item, wear and tear, can be very subjective. Even within the warranty term, an RMU, or kiosk in a high traffic location can experience extreme wear and tear. A-level shopping centers generate really high traffic and retail activity (that’s what makes them A centers). Some fixture components could be operated thousands of times per year, often under heavy loads causing them to function poorly, or even break. Therefore, it is imperative to find out how the manufacturer defines unusual wear and tear. This is an extremely important piece of information and when asked, the manufacturer should have a fairly precise and clear answer. If he doesn’t, then the question probably hasn’t been thought through, and you can immediately question whether, or not the fixture has been properly engineered to operate reliably throughout its service life.

 

Another key consideration is the manufacturer’s warranty response team. Field failures normally come to the customer service department, or its equivalent. When qualifying a fixture fabricator, it is wise to understand the capabilities of the fabricator’s customer service department.

 

  • Does the fabricator have dedicated, and experienced staff to look after field repairs?
  • Does the fabricator have an inventory, or rapid access to spare parts necessary to effect repairs?
  • Does the fabricator guarantee, or at least estimate the typical time to provide field service?

 

The answers to these important questions will give an inkling of how much time an important fixture may be out of service and unable to generate income.

 

When a fabricator can no longer lower his price, one option is to compete on  warranty (provided the quality is there).  With today’s high quality and high reliability manufacturing methods, two year warranties are reasonable even if they are not common.  Given the capital expense of a common area retail fixture, it would not be unreasonable for a client to ask for such a warranty either.  Equipment costing ten thousand to fifty thousand dollars per unit should provide that much trouble-free service life as a minimum.  Obviously scratches and dings from baby strollers, wheelchairs, cleaning equipment are not covered, but that’s what touch up kits are for.

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