Monday, August 6, 2012

Check the Warranty Before Throwing it Out

We rarely make a claim against the warranty of products that we buy. Certainly if we had a failure of a major item, such as a car or refrigerator we would try to get it fixed under warranty, but for smaller items I rarely even think about whether or not its still covered by the manufacturer's warranty. We recently had a situation come up, however, where the item was covered under warranty, and using it saved us enough to cause me to re-think this habit of forgetting about warranties.

Andrea had been using a Cuisinart Blender/Chopper for the past several months to blend my breakfast smoothies. It was working out well, especially since the smoothie could be consumed from the same cup it was mixed in. Unfortunately, though, the blender died while she was making pesto with it one day a few weeks back. Our assumption is that the pesto was too thick, and caused the motor to overheat. I expected that we would be buying a new one soon, but before doing that Andrea decided to contact the manufacturer.

They didn't even ask her when the item was purchased, although it would have been easy to look up since it was purchased online. They gave her instructions on how to ship the item to the service center. We had to cover the cost of shipping, which came to around $9. A couple of weeks after shipping the old blender out, we received a package from Cuisinart. Inside was a complete 15 piece set. We assume the old one was either going to be too difficult or too expensive to repair, so they sent us a new one. Since we had only shipped them the blender itself, we now have 2 sets the cups, lids, and blades, which is fantastic.

Had we not checked on the warranty situation, we would likely have spent $70 to buy a new blender. Its possible that Andrea would have gone with a different model, but since this one was working so well, and since we had cups and blades for it, I think she would have chosen the same one. By making a claim under the warranty, we ended up with a brand new item anyway, at a $60 savings over buying a new one.

To be honest, though, my preference would have been for them to repair the old one. One benefit of repairing instead of replacing broken items is that it results in less resources being used. I hope that they refurbish the old unit, instead of just throwing it into the trash. Unfortunately, however, it seems that our consumer-oriented culture would, in most cases, prefer a new item to repairing a broken one.


  1. We have a similar item that we use primarily for smoothies, shakes, and sauces. It's stood up pretty well so far to our abuse, but I daresay we don't work it as hard as you and Andrea do yours. :)

    Am I the only one who worries about all the risks and costs of the materials used in making such appliances and electronics? Whenever I think about copper mining, for example, it seems that a normal response would be to (1) hyperventilate, then (2) immediately stop using copper. :P

  2. You raise a point, which might make for an interesting post sometime. We rarely really think about all of the various materials that go into making the products that we use. It would be a fun exercise to choose a fairly simple object, and attempt at breaking it down into its base components and identifying their likely source.

    The first time I really recall thinking about this topic was several years ago when I was helping someone with some contract computer repair work at a rubber factory in Richmond. They made a few different products there, one of which was a rubber gasket that was used in the manufacturer of Honda automobiles. I don't recall if the gasket as part of the engine, or used elsewhere, but it was clearly a tiny part in a larger component, which itself was only one of hundreds of parts used in the car. Of course the factory itself generated its own material waste, used a great deal or energy, and created a fair amount of pollution. All of this for one small rubber gasket, which was probably less than 0.1% of the parts used in the building of an automobile.

    Also, your mention of copper mining reminds me of my visit to the Bingham Copper Mine ( outside of Salt Lake City. It is so large, you can see it from miles away. I can recall seeing it from the IHOP parking lot where I had breakfast, which was approximately 15 miles ('as the crow flies') away from the mine. Its been mined for over 100 years, and has gone from being a hill when started now being a pit that is 0.75 miles deep and 2.5 miles wide. And they are still mining it.