One of the questions that has always been asked before I buy a device is how the warranty works with a certain manufacturer, or what my opinion of the manufacturers' (in this case Garmin) warranty is. Unfortunately this is something I don't have a good grasp on, because even though I'm also a consumer exactly like you, my usage is somewhat different.
I buy the devices that I use for my training or for testing. I always indicate this in all the tests, but it is not superfluous to remember it. And I do it in normal stores, so normal guarantees apply. However, I combine the use of those devices with all the ones that are sent for testing, so at the moment of truth a watch that I bought 2 years ago does not mean that it has 2 years of use.
What do I mean by that? Well, that in my case, it would take longer than any of you for a device to fail "due to wear and tear", simply because my use is not as intensive with that one device as yours may be.
It's like asking a motor journalist about the reliability of all the cars he's used. With each car he tests he accumulates a few thousand kilometres and quickly moves on to the next, so there's no time to see any breakdowns except in very specific cases.
There is also the fact that the percentage of products with problems is low - not that there are no defective devices (anyone working in the world will know that everything fails, regardless of the brand), but it is very unusual.
Proper warranty management is very important for a brand. Or it should be. Failures may not be common, but they exist now and will always exist. Easy and correct management wins the trust of users, who are likely to trust that brand again even if they have had a product fail. However, poor management will cause that person to leave the brand forever: not only does he or she have a failing device, but the brand is not responsible.
As for the failures of the products about what I write here, normally I can comment by comments from readers or what is seen on the Internet, but in this case I can talk about a case in first person, because a few months ago I had a problem with the clock I used as my main one until that moment, the Garmin Forerunner 935.
It had already become a "test" clock, having been replaced by the Garmin Forerunner 945I was going to keep using it, but not as a newspaper watch. In fact, I think the problem I had was precisely because I abandoned my wrist and became part of the desk.
The failure of the Garmin FR935
I bought my Garmin Forerunner 935 on 5 May 2017, a few days after it officially arrived in the shops. It was the triathlon pack, including the sensors HRM-TRI, HRM-Swim and the Quick ReleaseSince then more than two years of intermittent but frequent use.
He has gone through months of intensive use when the pace of analysis of other products stopped and he had to train for some races, along with other months when he only used it at opportune moments to make GPS or sensor comparisons. He has even survived a bike accident that left him somewhat battered and scratched.
But as I said before, the problem didn't come until it stopped being my usual clock and started staying on top of the desk.
What happened to it? The resin covering the optical pulse sensor fractured.
This has been a more or less common bug. Not only with the FR935, but also with many other models such as the Fenix. Taking a look at the Garmin support forums you can see similar problems from other users (for example here, here or here).
In my particular case I think my problem came after having left the clock for so long on the glass desk. With every notification received on the phone the clock vibrated, running over the table. Again and again and again... And it constantly chimed on the glass surface precisely with that part of the sensor that was in contact with the table.
Although the problem may have been caused by that reason, it shouldn't have been. And the fact that it happened in so many other models is proof that mine wasn't an isolated failure. That's when I decided it was time to "pull the plug".
Warranty procedure with Garmin
I processed the warranty as a private user, at no time did I contact through the website's email account or identify myself as the person behind this page. For Garmin's technical service I was just another buyer, nothing more... and nothing less.
Once I saw the problem in the clock and knew that it would affect any tests I might want to do on the optical sensors I proceeded to look for the purchase invoice, exactly as any other user would do in this case.
After getting the invoice, the surprise came... the two-year warranty had expired less than two months ago. Chascazo, I couldn't do the paperwork... Even so, and reviewing the different cases in the Garmin forums, I decided to send an email to support on July 29, 2019 (I remember that the purchase date was May 5, 2017). The "no" was already there.
Garmin Support contacted me on July 30th asking for all the details. About my indication that it was a recurrent bug they answered that they don't have it registered as such but... it seems that they are going to process it.
The fact that the guarantee had run out "I dropped it" in the first mail, but now I had to provide the purchase invoice. Could it be that they hadn't read it properly? Well, I proceed to fill out the whole form and attach the invoice and let the sun rise over Antequera.
One day later, July 31st, I receive a new mail with an RMA number and instructions to proceed with the procedure. It seems that everything is going well, even though I am sending a watch with more than two years of invoice. So I proceed to contact Seur to request the collection at due time (for my part the only thing I had to put was the packaging).
The next day Seur comes to pick up the package, taking my "old" FR935 with its cracked sensor and scratched edge from the bike fall. It's already August 1st, Thursday, so the clock would arrive on Friday 2nd at its destination.
August 9, 8 days after Seur's collection, and I have the carrier back at the door. He brings me a package with Garmin as sender. Inside is a watch in a bubble bag.
Here it was, a brand new watch in appearance.
And with an immaculate optical sensor, without the cracks of the one I had sent.
The bottom line is that "my customer self" (not "my blogger self") purchased a Garmin watch that has suffered damage that disables one of its functions. After contacting Garmin and requesting a warranty more than two years after purchase, you have received a satisfactory response and traded in for a "refurbished" unit (what we in my world call "a Furby").
What would be my opinion as a customer of the Garmin warranty? That it answers. And in that situation Garmin would be building customer loyalty.
We may think that a guarantee procedure is an expense for a manufacturer. Repairing - or replacing as in this case - a product always has a cost, there is no doubt about that. However, I believe that a guarantee procedure is an opportunity for that manufacturer. An opportunity to build customer loyalty, to ensure that the next purchase that customer will make does not consider another brand.
And this is not something new, there are many other examples like Apple, Google, Amazon... All of them apply a "customer-centric" strategy. However there are other manufacturers in which processing a warranty can be hell, cases like Samsung or Canyon...
How much does it cost to have this kind of support? I don't know how much it costs Garmin, I'm sure it's not cheap, but it's another form of promotion, just like Garmin is promoted at races or in TV and print ads. But what I'm sure of is that the return on investment is higher for well-managed support than for TV ads.
And at this point and since my experience is limited... What was your experience with the warranty process? What brand did you buy that you needed warranty on and it answered correctly? I'm sure it's of interest to the rest of the users to know this information first hand. So if you don't mind, use the comments below and tell us. Thanks for reading!