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Thread: Warranty shipment question

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    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
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    Default Warranty shipment question

    For typical mandolin warranty work, standard policy by most makers seems to be the buyer pays shipping costs. But what if the work is for a visible flaw on a brand-new mandolin bought via the Internet and the flaw was discovered and identified to the maker immediately upon delivery? I doubt any maker would want a warranty clause that acknowledges the possibility they miss something. I realize that someone is going to be out about $50 or so, but should it be the buyer because the written policy says so?
    Bob Gray
    Mandolins - Davy Stuart & Redline Traveler

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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    you could only hope & Pray that a good internet store like folkmusican.com would see such a flaw before they ship it to you.after all they say they do set it up & that does take a good amount of time & I was very happy with Kentucky 805 that I bought from Robert.that mandolin was flawless,it was awesome far better than my Loar 600 which all have a flaw in the scroll.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Have you asked the retailer you bought it from about this? If not I'd do that first. Then I would call the manufacturer and plead your case. Those two options are your best bet.

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    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Have you asked the retailer you bought it from about this? If not I'd do that first. Then I would call the manufacturer and plead your case. Those two options are your best bet.
    Did that and the maker covered the shipment out but customer service called to make arrangments for shipping costs back to me. I politely raised my objection and the issue is being upchanneled. I have no indication they won't cover but worried that in today's Internet world the buyer may be expected to assume some of the risk and I am being unreasonable.
    Bob Gray
    Mandolins - Davy Stuart & Redline Traveler

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    Registered User Brent Hutto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    I would be extremely surprised if a manufacturer would pay for you to ship a mandolin directly to them that was not purchased directly from them. Your first recourse is with whomever you bought the mandolin from.

    The manufacturer's warranty backs up any claim not handled by the person you bought the mandolin from. And in that case every one I've ever seen will expect you to pay to get it to them.

    I'd think it was a recipe for going broke to pay return shipping on an instrument because of cosmetic damage. Far more often the damage happened after leaving the factory. Just too many ways for a nick or smudge or dent to happen while it's going to the dealer, perhaps tried out by multiple people, shipped to the buyer, etc. Even if in your particular case it's something that was like that from the factory I don't know of any maker willing to write a blank check for people to send instruments to them at their expense when they can't possibly control what has happened in the weeks, months or years since it left their hands.

    P.S. It's never unreasonable to ask for what you think is fair treatment. Just that this particular one seems a long shot.
    The first man who whistled
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    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

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    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Understood. The mando was ordered from a retailer who then ordered from the maker. Was on order for a month or so, completed by the maker, shipped to the retailer who then shipped to me. One full day acclimating, next day noticed nicks next to a fret that looked like a punch slipped. (I may be entirely wrong on that but that is sure how it looked to me.) Several very clear photos provided to retailer, who forwarded to maker who contacted me directly and provided a UPS call tag. So whatever the actual cause, it seems the maker took responsibility for what is almost certainly a very rare event for them. I was so surprised that customer service would assume to charge me for return shipment that I began to wonder if I am wrong. Higher authority may side with me but I would hope it is because it is the right thing to do (at least I think so and wondering if others do as well) and not just to quiet me.
    Bob Gray
    Mandolins - Davy Stuart & Redline Traveler

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    Registered User Brent Hutto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Oh, I didn't pick up on the special order thing. That's what I meant by getting it direct from the maker, although most of the big manufacturers have you go through a dealer even if they just send it right along to you. I thought it was a case where the instrument had been in a showroom or warehouse for a while as "stock".

    Sounds like they're standing behind it nicely.
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    A dealer is the representative of the factory. The purchaser bought it from the factory's representative. If a manufacturer wants to sell through dealers they have to treat the customer the same. Policy not withstanding, the folks at Taylor covered a guitar three of four legs when they had a problem with some work they had done so some manufacturers will step up when they know it's their issue. Beyond that, the retailer should be your advocate here as they are the middleman between you and the factory. Failure to get at least some of the cost would be a reason that I wouldn't spend my money there next time, you may feel differently. Anybody can sell a product and not stand behind it, the mark of true customer service is what happens when there are problems.

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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Warranties are written quite specifically and most manufacturers are very slow to make exceptions. The normal process is you ship it to them out of pocket. They will examine it for factory defects in material or workmanship, and barring warranty exceptions (usually finish or normal wear and tear or damage by mishandling) they will make repairs appropriate to their view and pay return shipping to the customer. It is rare they will pay for inbound freight for several reasons. Usually because most of the supposed "warranty" issues are not warranty issues and they would go broke paying for that freight.

    The way it is supposed to work is to go through your dealer. They will normally return it to the company for you and be your advocate with the company to help get you the best results possible. Of course, they are not the factory and can not make decisions for the factory as to what is covered and what is not.

    Our comments about what they should or should not do really do not affect the warranty or the way it is handled. It is led by the wording of the warranty and the factories have had these prepared by high dollar lawyers for a purpose. Exceptions can void the entire warranty process for all and can make the company liable for issues not in the warranty if they do not handle warranty issues very carefully and according to the wording in the document. They do not have a personal grudge against anyone, but do have to be concerned about how they handle warranty requests. Again, each company makes its own decisions but remember that these warranties have evolved to what they are by many years experience. Having run a warranty repair division for a manufacturer I can tell you there are many "claims" that would blow your mind and if they paid for all those instruments to be returned there would be no money to build instruments. Very few of the supposed warranty issues have anything to do with the warranty or the quality of the build. That is why you pay out front for warranty shipping.
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    Joe Vest

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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Some complexities can arise. In the most complex, a contract sequence: manufacturer with importer, importer with jobbers, jobbers with retailers, retailers with retail customers. The retail customer has no contract with anyone but the retailer. This is why warranties exist, providing relief for the retail customer.

    Often the importer or jobber has no staff really used to dealing with those outside their customer base (their retailers). Often the people in those positions don't deal well with retail customers, being used to industry insiders. Often there's not a consistent policy.

    The retailer isn't a middleman, the retailer is the maker, importer, or jobber's customer.

    Fortunately, most retailers are good at dealing with retail customers and the makers, importers, or jobbers they deal with. This role provides a wide range of challenges. I'm in month 3 of one such exchange!! And so far am out the cost of a replacement instrument I provided a customer (not even my customer - that of a non-performing, unwilling competitor - a mess).

    Regarding shipping, generally in the case of a warranty issue, the maker, importer, or jobber will (in this industry) issue a call tag once the instrument has been evaluated and a warranty issue found. Some will issue a call tag (rarely) to pick up from a retail customer. Most won't. They want (justifiably) to deal with their customers, not with a third party. Usually these entities will return the item at their cost to the store or sometimes to the retail customer.

    For retailers with physical stores, shipping provides a challenge. Providing "free" shipping elevates remote customers over local customers. I have accommodated this somewhat by a little discount for in-store buyers at times. If I remember. Issuing a call tag comes out of my bottom line. If I missed something I should have caught, I'll do this (unless one of us forgets). If it's a warranty issue that has developed, I will not. I'm not going to get compensated by the maker, importer, or jobber. There's insufficient margin on most lower end sales to accommodate return shipping. Also, if something goes wrong with an instrument locally, I won't drive out and get the instrument (usually). That balance between local and remote customers does prove difficult.

    The retailer tends to end up in the middle if there are any issues. About 1/2 the time, the issues that linger result from retail customers doing something or acting some way that doesn't fit with the warranty or payment system. The issue isn't a warranty one, the warranty was up, they filed a PayPal dispute and wonder why I can't now refund their money, they're simultaneously talking to the importer and the retailer (which has created amazingly complex problems!!), and so on. About 1/2 the time the issues lie with the importer. The importer argues about whether there's a defect (inherent material problem vs. cracked from low humidity), wants to replace an obsolete model with something that's not the best match from their line, doesn't follow through on calls.

    Generally there's no problem. If something seems unreasonable, it's more often than not that one is dealing with busy people. In emailing, copy all previous emails below, summarize previous efforts. Keep in mind that the person reading the email (me, for example), will not remember all the nuances of one particular issue unless reminded. An email reading "I think that mandolin has had that problem return" will leave me completely adrift.

    On the shipping thing, keep in mind the aspect of not favoring remote customers over local ones. It's a tough area to maintain fairness.
    Stephen Perry
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    How is it that the retailer is not the middleman here? He buys from the factory and sells to the customer (along with the factory warranty). He's not the middle man? Why not? His business depends on the customer buying from him and the manufacturer selling to him. That places him where in this process? In the middle. His purchase isn't the end of the process where the warranty is concerned. If the manufacturer doesn't want to deal with then end customer then the retailer is then back in the middle of the process. That's puts him, again, in the middle, not at the end. Again, the retailer should be jumping into the process on behalf of his customer and if he isn't, I wouldn't be going back there to spend my money.

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    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Joe and Stephen - excellent insight into the business side of mandolins and, as always, there are multiple viewpoints to any situation. I believe mine will resolve favorably for me. If not, I won't let a relatively minor and temporary issue detract from a great mando.

    Edited after seeing Mike's post.

    I have to give the retailer credit here and say I may have screwed up. My first contact was with them, they contacted the factory who then made direct contact with me. I shipped to the factory using the call tag they provided and just assumed I was now working directly with the factory. I never went back to the retailer but that retailer has contacted me twice within the last 8 hours (and it's only 9:30AM here) after reading this thread. They have offered to cover the shipping if needed, plus. Stand up business.
    Bob Gray
    Mandolins - Davy Stuart & Redline Traveler

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    Registered User Toycona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    This is a really good discussion, so I'll throw in my scenario:

    I have a small cosmetic flaw in the finish on my otherwise brand new mandolin. The spot is an exposed bit of bare wood just below the neck (treble side) about the size of a quarter. It surfaced over the last two months...first as nothing at all, then as a milky sheen, then as the open sore that it is now. I took it to a local luthier for a look, and he surmised it was residual moisture in the top or a flaw in the lacquer. I'm debating whether to send it back at all. It doesn't affect the sound quality (and adds a bit of 'mojo' to the look of the top), but darn it, it's brand new. Should I even bother with the risk of sending it for refinishing? I've talked to the builder, and he's been very cool about it.

    Any advice?
    Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

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    Registered User Brent Hutto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Toycona,

    If it could be touched up I might consider it but on balance would probably just let it be the first in a lifetime of cosmetic "issues" that the instrument will accumulate. If it actually needs stripping and refinishing, no way in the world I'd let an instrument I liked go through that process.
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

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    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    All's well that ends well. Factory contacted me this AM to say they are covering shipping costs and provided shipping info. Learned a bit here and would not hesitate in the least to patronage either the factory or dealer again in the future.
    Bob Gray
    Mandolins - Davy Stuart & Redline Traveler

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Quote Originally Posted by rgray View Post
    All's well that ends well. Factory contacted me this AM to say they are covering shipping costs and provided shipping info. Learned a bit here and would not hesitate in the least to patronage either the factory or dealer again in the future.
    This looks to have ended as it should have ended.

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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    WELL BLOW ME DOWN....I sent a mandolin back to the builder and when he sent it back he asked me to pay shipping both ways, I did because he is such a nice guy but if I ever have to do it again I`ll remember what I read here...Great thread....

    Willie

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    Registered User Nonprophet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    To me, it would make a difference if the item was brand new (like with the OP) or if it was a warranty issue on an older mando. When it's brand new, the maker/manufacturer should step up (like they did here) and pay shipping both ways as the flaw obviously got through their QC and nobody wants a brand new, several thousand dollar mando with an issue.

    At what point it becomes an "older" mando I guess is pretty nebulous, but I would say as a general rule that any problems noticed in the first 30-60 days should be covered by the maker as a QC issue, and after that considered a warranty issue with the owner paying for shipping both ways.

    NP

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    WELL BLOW ME DOWN....I sent a mandolin back to the builder and when he sent it back he asked me to pay shipping both ways, I did because he is such a nice guy but if I ever have to do it again I`ll remember what I read here...Great thread....

    Willie
    2002 Bussmann F4
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    "There's three kinds of people in this world, those that are good at math and those that aren't."

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    I've had warranty issues with Martin and Taylor and have always paid shipping one way. If Gibson, Weber, or Collings charged both ways I'd be surprised. Having factory modifications or repairs done out of warranty would be a different issue. As noted above, when the problem belonged to Taylor and they knew it they paid both ways. I wouldn't be so eager to pay shipping both ways.

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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    I can appreciate Nonprophet's point of view, but remember that a warranty is a legal document and outlines exactly what the terms are in dealing with issues. Some things are not going to be covered by the manufacturer... EVER ... no matter what. Finish issues are such an issue. If you have one with finish issues that are not directly a matter of defect in manufacturing then it will not be covered by most manufacturers. Some will not cover any finish issue for any reason. It matters not what we think or feel or wish or want it to be. It is exactly what is outlined in the document called "Warranty" and it is a legal binding document that both parties are obliged to go by. In rare instances some manufacturers will extend a courtesy repair but they are not obligated to do so. In some cases the manufacturer will not pay for return shipping no matter the reason. Not for the retail customer, or for the dealer.

    Our opinion is really not a party to the contract. When you buy an instrument and the warranty is important to you, just read it and know what it does and does not cover. If you don't like the warranty, then don't buy the instrument. If you do, then purchase is an option. Again, I don't mean to seem to be siding with anyone, as I have no dog in this fight whatsoever, but I do have extensive experience in this field and can speak from that.

    At the manufacturer where I was primarily involved, the instrument was returned at the owners expense for inspection and determination. If it was found to have a warrantable repair, the instrument was repaired and then shipped back to the customer at no charge. If it had both warranty and non warranty issues only the warranty issues were free and the non warranty issues were the responsibility of the consumer. The factory covered return shipping if there were any warrantable issues even in that case. If it was determined that no warranty issues were involved then the consumer would be given the option of paying for the repairs or having it returned at the consumers expense and getting it repaired elsewhere. If there was any way it could honestly be considered a warranty item it was, however, we still had to go by the warranty and anything that was not covered by warranty would not be covered.

    A prime example is a major manufacturer I have never worked for (and this includes others as well) would pay for a neck set if needed, but in most cases a plane and refret is needed as well. Even though the guitar may not have required a refret without the need for a neck set the factory would not cover the cost of a refret for any reason whatsoever. This was true even on a new guitar less than one year old. It was clearly a factory defect that resulted in the need for the refret, but the warranty clearly excludes fret work of any kind at any time and they would not pay for the needed fret work. The owner was supposed to take care of that. In this particular case I just took care of it and did not make the customer pay. I lost money on the job, but it was the right thing to do in this case as far as I was concerned. Still, the factory did exactly what the warranty said it would, and while I may be frustrated at my loss I cannot blame the factory. They did what they said they would. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Please remember (I may be repeating myself) that it really does not matter what we think or feel or our opinion or public sentiment, the warranty is a legal document with ramifications if not followed exactly as written. Just thought I would clarify things a bit. Again, not my opinion and not what I may feel is right, just reporting what I have learned. Thank you.
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    Joe Vest

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    Registered User Nonprophet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    To the OP, Joe, and others:

    In this case, if the blemish issue was not covered and/or the buyer didn't want to incur the $100 in shipping both ways, couldn't he have just returned the mandolin for a refund? I know policies vary store to store and laws vary state to state, but don't many credit card issuers offer extended protection for merchandise bought with their credit card?

    Just wondering what recourse would be in a worst-case scenario where the manufacturer denied the claim and wanted the buyer to pay for a new fretboard as well as shipping both ways.....


    NP
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    "There's three kinds of people in this world, those that are good at math and those that aren't."

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    Registered User Nonprophet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    duplicate--please delete!
    2002 Bussmann F4
    1999 Weber Bridger A
    1917 Gibson Alrite D

    "There's three kinds of people in this world, those that are good at math and those that aren't."

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    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    WELL BLOW ME DOWN....I sent a mandolin back to the builder and when he sent it back he asked me to pay shipping both ways, I did because he is such a nice guy but if I ever have to do it again I`ll remember what I read here...Great thread....
    An interesting read for me as well. Someone provided the phrasing via e-mail (and then another provided here) that I should have used at the outset - I considered my issue to be quality control vs. warranty. (However, I don't think I would expect longer than the standard 24-48 hour trial period to discover QC problems.) If a defect surfaces that could not have been detected via standard QC, I view that as possible warranty work and I would pay shipping without question if that is the policy. I just didn't know what would be considered the norm regarding QC problems with acoustic instruments and the Internet market so I asked for advice. Thanks to all.
    Last edited by rgray; May-03-2011 at 9:48pm. Reason: Several posts popped in while writing answer to quoted material.
    Bob Gray
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    Default Re: Warranty shipment question

    If this were presented to the retailer it would be up to them what they may do and the policy they may have in place for such an issue. Some will replace, some would refund, others would simply say it is yours. This is an issue you may try to take up with your credit card company, but you may be unlikely to get a result you like. There is no law that says you have to be happy with what you buy. People get buyers remorse for many issues (though this is not the case with the OP). You would want to inquire of the seller what the process would be if there is an issue that you may not like. This is certainly not a structural issue and not anything that affects playability or tone but a minor issue with appearance in a location that is not highly noticeable and that is why it was so easily missed. Would this be a case where a seller would replace, repair, or refund? Depends totally upon the policy of the seller.

    In this case the manufacturer stepped in and did the right thing as the seller made the attempt as well. This is a good way for all to win with a minor inconvenience to the purchaser. The end result will bring good results and all will be well. How would others handle it? It depends upon the dealer and the maker. Good guys will do their best to help in any way they can. Others may make another choice and would still be well within the law.
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

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