A guarantee is not a Swiss invention and is certainly NOT only found in Switzerland, but it is definitely worth noting how the Swiss deal with guarantees. Most things bought in Switzerland have at least a 2 year guarantee on them, sometimes 5 years. For a while there it looked like everything we had broke 1 week after the guarantee was over. But not always, the closest we came to the deadline and were still on the right side was 2 days. It was a closet whose doors decided not to close correctly, and it got fixed. I suspect that we’ve had the normal amount of things we’ve sent back and either had fixed or replaced. The usual appliances like mixers, coffee machines, vacuum cleaner and things like that. All you have to do is show your proof of purchase and off to the workshop it goes.
5 Year Guarantee
There is one store that gives 5 year’s guarantee on what they sell. That is, one that I know of, but there are probably more. We have a friend who bought a hay-mower there that broke after two years. There’s a 5 year guarantee, so he brought it back to get repaired. They said that they couldn’t repair it because they no longer sold the model he bought. They gave him a newer one. The thing was, the newer mower could do more and cost less than what he originally bought and paid. Because of that the store additionally refunded him the difference.
This wasn’t the only time they did something like that! We bought a oil heater for our patio about 4 years ago and last winter it refused to turn on. It was the end of the season, so we let it go until this summer when we brought it in to get fixed. They weren’t able to fix this either but being summer they didn’t have a replacement to offer us. After all, who needs an oil heater in summer anyway? We were refunded the total cost so we could buy a new one next winter.
Something like this would never work if the object in question was a car. All you need to do is drive your new car once around the block and it’s lost 35% of its value. If you ask me, this store knows how to keep their customers, we go there often. We just don’t know how they turn a profit.
Singin’ in the Rain
Another friend of ours had a new umbrella that went haywire during a rainstorm. He asked his wife where she bought it and she told him. He went directly to the store to get it fixed. When he got there he realized that his wife hadn’t given him the ever important proof of purchase, the receipt. Luckily the person working behind the counter was a former student of his. So, he was able to explain the situation. The former student looked at the umbrella and said “I don’t think we sell umbrellas like this one.” Our friend said “My wife said she bought it here!” I guess if a teacher says that, then that must be the way it is. So the man took it and sent it to get repaired.
Our friend was able to pick up the repaired umbrella a week later and it worked perfectly. On the way home he stopped by a different store to pick up something for his wife. He walked by a stand selling … you got it… his umbrellas. There’s the proof, stores here not only repair what they sell, they also repair what their competition sells.
The Swiss have long stood by what they sell and quality must be one of the very first words they learn. Ben’s maternal grandmother had a rug shop in Berne where she made and sold knotted rugs. She was sure of the quality she was selling so she guaranteed them to last a lifetime. Once when Ben was looking at one of the many rugs we still have that she made he discovered a small hole. He shook his head and said sadly “but she guaranteed them for a lifetime!”.
I smiled and said “I don’t think she meant your lifetime. After all, she passed away, what, 50 years ago? So it lasted her lifetime and your parents and now a good portion of yours. Talk about quality. And, if you ask me, I think that rug, and all the others we still have from her, look great for their age! Even the one you made as a child in her store.”