Business: Customer Protection
Appropriate Warranty Periods   (+12, -4)  [vote for, against]
Time of ownership is a bad choice

Most products on the market today which come with a warranty specify it in terms of the time which the product has been owned by the end user. For example, a computer may have a one year warranty and a microwave a three year warranty.

This means that if I purchase a computer in January, use it once in March, once in December and then when I try to use it again next January it fails, I have no recourse under the warranty. It should be obvious that a computer should work more than three times - but that's not how the warranty is termed.

Conversely, Jim may purchase an entry level computer and then run FEA simulations on it 24/7 at full load from the day it is unpacked. It will fail within a couple of months, and Jim will be able to get a full repair or replacement under the warranty. Needless to say, the repair will fail again, and again, costing the manufacturer much more than the profit on the original item.

More sensibly, equipment should monitor usage and have a warranty based upon that usage. Modern and even non-modern technology allows for this. In some cases, embedded RF can provide short-range reading of encapsulated basic data logging. On the less modern front, mechanical counters are both cheap and widely available with tamper-proofing.

For example:
- Shoe warranty for 100,000 steps (tiny piezo-electric pedometer in heel)
- Mouse warranty for one million clicks (mechanical counter)
- Fan warranty for ten million rotations (mechanical counter)
- TV for 6000 hours of power-on time - Dishwasher / washing machine for 10,000 washes

Some things need more complex measures:
- Load.Hours for a PC (%CPU load, multiplied by time at that load in hours). (on motherboard)

Cars have existing use measurement which can be extended to components by noting the mileage at fitting:
- Tyre warranty for 10,000 miles (return to garage with fewer than 10k more on the clock for warranty)
- (etc)

However, some car components have different warranty needs:
- Handbrake warranty - 10,000 starts (engine-start counter) - Battery - 5,000 starts (engine-start counter) - (etc)
-- vincevincevince, May 02 2008

Time-based warranties are a good approximation. To create more appropriate warranties would require much more careful measurement of what makes things fail than you've suggested. To use the examples above, 100,000 steps won't damage shoes, but they will if the shoes aren't cared for, are worn every day, are often wet, if the shoe-wearer is overweight and has bought shoes too small, etc. Likewise power-on time doesn't kill TVs as much as power-cycling, and combinations of vibration, dust, heat and humidity.
-- hippo, May 02 2008

I think this fails because it doesn't take into account how the object in question is being used.

Besides, usage (Hobbs) meters are well established for engines, t/y/i/res are already warranted based on mileage and the mechanical counter in the mouse would cost more than a new mouse.
-- phoenix, May 02 2008

I like the logic behind it, but it will never work = perfect Bakery material = (+)
-- xenzag, May 02 2008

+ This is so funny because when I first learned to drive a *standard* vehicle, I asked, "How many *shifts* do you expect to get from a manual transmission?". I want that warranty.
-- xandram, May 02 2008

Manufacturer's would do this why?
-- MaxwellBuchanan, May 02 2008

Manufacturer's what?
-- Ling, May 03 2008

//Manufacturer's would do this why?// You're a printer manufacturer. Some of your customers run just one of your printers 24/7 covering a large office and accounts system. It costs you to keep repairing and replacing it; and you can't do anything about that because it's within the warranty period. Count the pages and warrant only a certain number of prints.

Conversely, some of your customers print one or two documents a week. You know your printer will last years for them, and yet you can only warrant performance at the 1y industry norm. Giving them a warranty in terms of page count makes them prefer to purchase your product rather than your competitor's which will be out of warranty long before they finish the first ream.
-- vincevincevince, May 03 2008

So is it kind of like the car warranties that are for 3 years or 30,000km (whichever comes first)? Or would it replace the time based warranty for one solely based on usage?
-- reap, May 04 2008

The printer manufacturer should love the guy who uses his printer so much that it needs warranty repairs, since that would tend to imply the manufacturer is making boatloads of money on refilling it.
-- supercat, May 04 2008

[+] I would have to agree that this is definately half-baked. It wouldn't work simply on the grounds that a manufacturer will not want to repair discontinued or obsolete equipment. Secondly, utilizing a "home use" product in a commercial manner voids most warranties anyway. If you buy a "guaranteed forever" lawn mower from Sears and bring it back in two months with worn wheels and faded decals, they will certainly know (without the use of a meter) that you have been using it more often than just on the weekends.
-- Jscotty, May 05 2008

It wouldn't work: too hackable. (+)
-- Voice, May 07 2008

I agree about it being too easy to hack, but it IS a good idea.
-- drummac88, May 07 2008

I also figure that companies with a traditional warranty are banking on the fact that out of the percentage of products that they already expect to fail , less than half of the people are actually going to file a claim.
-- Jscotty, May 08 2008

I've encountered warranties where the "processing" fee exceeded the value of the product...and they reserved the right to send a check refund instead of repairing.
-- aguydude, May 10 2008

good for high-quality high-cost items used especially for businesses, for example an auxiliary mainframe, that if it goes down, you know you'll get your money's worth

other than that it's just pointless
-- xxobot, May 10 2008

random, halfbakery