I just came from the 2016 Atlantic City pool and spa show. As usual, I made the rounds at the show, talked with manufacturer reps about products that are important to me, and my readers. Mainly manufacturers of pumps, filters, and automatic pool cleaners. While I looked for new products, new models, and insights to share, I discussed warranty with every single one of them. I was horrified by what I discovered.
In a further attempt to: “protect brick and mortar / mom and pop shops”, leading manufacturers of pool pumps, filters and automatic cleaners have taken to shortening their warranties. If you buy a pump, filter, or automatic cleaner online, you may find you have little, or no warranty at all.
I don’t know if all the CEO’s, or other heads of these companies are hiring consultants, or if they met with each other to come up with this plan of reducing or eliminating warranties. Or, if one company president came up with the idea, and the rest are following along like lemmings. But they are forgetting one important thing… The customer!
While every other company on the planet has begrudgingly embraced internet disruption, and has gone to a customer centered model, these companies are putting there heads in the sand, and trying to bully the rest of the world into business as usual.
Successful companies in other industries have learned to deal with cannibalizing their own sales, and adjusted to changing times. Companies that fail to adapt and pivot, are quickly losing market share, as they themselves are holding the door open for competition.
Mom and pop shops say yup, I’ll protect your margins, by only carrying and promoting your brand. And manufacturers are are trying to protect mom and pops for their own greedy ends. All the while, they expect educated consumers to play along. When we don’t play along, brick and mortar shops go out of business, while blaming everyone else for their own short comings. Try reading “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson.
I hate to break it to the Pentair’s of the world, but your pumps are basically a commodity. The first curved vane centrifugal pump was introduced in 1851, and nothing has changed in 165 years, with the exception of variable speed pump motors. Sure, you come out with new models, and cool looking designs, but at the end of the day, it moves water through 166 year old technology. 😉
What They Have Done Right
They have been implementing good programs for years now, aimed at stemming the tide of distribution disruption (aka: “the internet”). There is clearly a right way, and a wrong way to encourage consumers to buy from local pool stores.
Pentair and Hayward in particular, have designed a program that extends your pump warranty, if you buy a variable speed pump , and have it installed by a local authorized dealer. It extends your warranty from one, to two, and three years with some models.
The only problem with this is, it helps local service companies more than store owners. It does at least offer a real benefit to the homeowner.
In an effort to encourage you to buy local, and to help local mom and pop pool stores compete with aggressive internet prices. Manufacturers offer rebates to both pool stores, and homeowners. As a pool store, if I sell a pump, I get a rebate or credit card worth somewhere between $50 and $200. If the homeowner registers the product, and fills out the required paperwork, they get the same rebate.
While dealing with, and waiting for rebates is not as easy as buying online, it helps offsets the large price difference often observed between online, and brick and mortar shops. Lets face it, these two programs are a more responsible, and respectful incentive for customers, than just reducing, or eliminating warranties. With the 2016 Superbowl coming up, can I get a collective C’mon Man…
This new, limited and no warranty policy, is forcing me to go back through all my articles, and pages where I reviewed products (like my pool pump reviews), and reevaluate my recommendations. None of these companies have ever given me a dime to promote them. I just give my opinion based on my own experience with companies, talks with reps and tech’s, and my own research.
I would also like to add that I have tried my best to find any documentation supporting these limited warranties on manufacturers websites, and have come up wanting. I spoke directly with reps from Pentair, and Dolphin by Maytronics at the show. The Pentair rep told me 60 days for online purchases, and all the information was available on the website, I cant find any limited warranty info for buying online??? Maytronics Rep told me zero warranty, but that they were coming out with an internet only model. I asked him what the warranty on that unit would be? He told me zero. Ha! Again, no supporting data on Maytronics website. Buyer beware…