When a warranty is not all it seems.

Aristotle once said, “the worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal”. This is so true when customers determine the value of a manufacturer’s warranty by the period of the warranty only, when actually its true value lies in the fine print.

Norman has a reputation for supplying the best and most consistent quality shutter products available on the Australian market, with a reputation of over 20 years. We hear customers sometimes ask why Norman do not offer a “25 year or Lifetime” warranty. If our product is so good, why doesn’t it also have a 20 year warranty like the other brands? We thought it was worthwhile to explain some of the details behind warranties and how they are sometimes misused or over-represented.

All products come with an implied warranty, that is, the products have to be fit for the purpose they were intended, they have to be of merchantable quality and must reasonably match any samples shown. If these conditions are not met a consumer has a right to a remedy. Whether that is a new product or refund is up to the individual retailer.

There is a reasonable expectation a product should last for a minimum of 1 year. Some manufacturers then may offer to “extend” the warranty for an additional fee. This is an option open to any business.

Norman is a vertically integrated company, meaning a very large proportion of what is sold is made by the same company, that even includes forests where trees are sustainably harvested. What this means to you is the product you buy has a consistent quality control. Injection moulded components, ladder tape for venetian blinds, textiles, extrusion of the polypropylene coating and more.

What Nien Made controls (and thoroughly tests) is how Norman shutters will perform for up to 5 years and blinds/shades up to 2 to 3 years and that’s what we stand by, even in some case more. What is the point of extending that warranty if we can’t be in control of the outcome, it is a risk to the business and our reputation? As is the discussion with the consumer/retailer, which will be all about the period of the warranty and not the fine print. Then when consumers realise much is excluded within the fine print it then becomes a discussion of what is “wear and tear” or “misuse and abuse”? Both of these are open to interpretation and dispute. No one will win that discussion.

Many 15-20-25 year warranties are on the actual material only not construction or paint and finish. In the case of PVC, the warranty usually only covers that the PVC will not fall apart. Often paint finish and construction are handled separately with periods that are not 15-25 years. PVC generally will not fall apart, but it will degrade over time, is that wear and tear?

A very important business philosophy of Nien Made is to offer genuine products and services and not to make promises or commitments to our customers on things that are outside of our control. If we don’t think we can offer our customers a genuine warranty past 5 years on our shutters, without a lot of fine print making exceptions for things like “normal wear and tear” and “exposure to the elements (e.g. sun damage)” we won’t offer that.

Norman will never use a gimmick guarantee to sell our products, unlike many other manufacturers who disguise their true intent within the fine print of their warranty. The best thing to do is investigate gimmick warranties. By taking the time to educate ourselves on the detail of each warranty, we can then compare apples with apples.

Should a product fail in 20 years, will that Supplier/Retailer be around to service that product? Nien Made has been around since 1974 so has a track record and reputation to uphold. If you buy a car for many tens of thousands of dollars, generally they are only provided with a 3-5 year warranty that explicitly excludes wear and tear? This is now our expectation in that field, why should window furnishings be different?

Another point to consider is if something were to fail under warranty, the warranty might only cover replacement of that particular part, not the product itself. Once again how do you qualify normal wear and tear? And as shutters and blinds are placed in the window they will be on the front line in respect to exposure to the elements, especially sunlight.

Norman offers a genuine 5 year *No Questions Asked Warranty on Shutters and 3 years on Blinds and Shades that not only covers product failures, but also life’s little mishaps, like a dog chewing a louvre or kids accidentally breaking a product, not smoke and mirrors. Our warranty also includes wear and tear, as the philosophy of Norman is that we don’t want to have an argument about what is fair and unfair wear and tear. The product should not fail.

It is the first no fault warranty that has ever been extended to window covering customers here in Australia.

When you are looking at window furnishing the first question should be, “is it Norman”?

*Read here for terms and conditions. https://www.normanaustralia.com.au/warranty/