Nothing is guaranteed

Written by Peter Davidson on 05 May 2016.

Nothing is guaranteed

There is a welcomed trend for inkjet printer manufacturers to provide extended warranties as standard with their equipment.

Back in the days when inkjet printers were guaranteed for a maximum of 12 months with several “however’s” thrown in to the Ts & Cs it was probably justifiable for them to show such caution, but with the improvements in head technology, and increased reliability and quality of inks, it has taken too long for the manufacturers to show real faith in their products. In fairness I haven’t seen the conditions which go with the 2 and 3 year OEM warranties but I can’t imagine that they are any worse than before.

This move has led me to wonder how the 3rd party printer insurance market is going to fair. They have been able to fill the 2 and 3 year gap for inkjet customers who couldn’t see the benefits of investing in the manufacturers previous extended warranty offerings, which are usually perceived as expensive, especially considering the good reliability of the printers in the first 12 months of their life.

My only experience of 3rd party insurance warranties was quite alarming. It may be that I was just unfortunate to bump in to a less than transparent provider but they have certainly give me cause for concern for other unsuspecting customers.

Of course there are conditions to what can or can’t be claimed using the 3rd party policies and the use of the term ‘fair wear and tear’ certainly allows for a lot of rejected claims, probably no more or less that OEM warranties. My real concern has been in the interpretation of a component fault and the time it takes for the 3rd party insurers to respond to a claim. The insurers behind the policies themselves rarely get involved as the policy would have been sold and is managed by an industry service provider.

In terms of interpretation it seems the norm for the policy provider to select parts of an engineer’s report that will reduce their risk of having to pay for the work done. In some cases they will offer a derisory 50% payment, almost as if they are proposing a “knock for knock” middle ground offer often used in the American car insurance market.

As for response time this can have many loop holes which the policy provider can use to delay a decision. For example the insurer will expect a call from the printer explaining the issue before an engineer can be authorised to go to site, which is understandable. Once the job has been done they can take up to 45 days to process the claim after they have received the engineers report, which could in itself take a few days to get to the printer before he can send it. This whole process could mean that the claim takes up to 2 months to be accepted or rejected, with some of the rejected claims decided on very shaky grounds.

Now that printer manufacturers are putting their money on the reliability of the products with longer warranties I can only imagine that the 3rd party insurance market will become even harder to work with as they will be asked to provide policies for inkjet printers in their fourth year of life, including its wear, tear and scars from previous battles. In an ideal world 3 years is a good turnaround time in which to purchase a new printer and 3rd party insurance could struggle to pick the best used printer options to insure in what could be a risky elephants grave yard.

We can only hope that the more professional insurers will act appropriately and offer a genuine warranty which they operate with integrity and so supporting smaller users and second hand printer buyers who deserve to be given the chance to grow their businesses.

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