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Blog: Warranty Blues?

Chuck Marzahn

There was a good ol’ boy traveling for a company down in Carolina. He had trouble at the end of the day as he was cresting each rolling hill because he was blinded by the setting sun. As a former ball player, he stopped to buy a $5 ball cap to shade his eyes. At the end of the week, he turned that expense in on his report. Accounting issued repayment minus the five dollars stating that ball caps were not covered expenses. Undaunted, our traveler resubmitted with a cordial appeal to reconsider that shortage based on two points: First, that it was a safety matter and second, that it was only used on company business. It was, after all, only five bucks. Accounting again shorted his requested reimbursement by five dollars and included a terse note forbidding resubmittal. In desperation, the fellow sent in next week’s report with the attached note. “The subject ball cap is in there – find it!”

Isn’t that the way it feels to be a dealer submitting for warranty today? You submit for what you presume to be reasonable. The manufacturer or vendor delays, devalues or denies the claim. Don’t you just feel like “getting even?”

I am the last person to suggest that you submit for a claim that is “bogus.” In a former life, I was quite skilled at catching dealers who cheated on warranty. There is way too much finger pointing and blaming going around. And I’m not talking about the federal government!

Dealers – You will have to work at it. You will have to be accurate, detailed and persistent to get the money owed to you. Look at your systems and processes. Are you getting a good write-up? Are your techs claiming every legitimate repair? Are you claiming every item you can? How long do they sit in processing before they are filed? Do you have accurate and appropriate documentation? Are you following up with claims that are taking too long to be paid? Are you making the sales rep for the manufacturer a party to your getting paid promptly?

Manufacturer’s/Vendors – You aren’t going to fix this until you hold each other accountable for quality rather than passing the blame. The larger problem is not dealers trying to abuse you. It is in the quality of the product. Further, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t put a poor-quality product out, ask the dealer to be the last 50 feet of your assembly line and still expect you won’t have to reimburse for warranty repairs. Partner with vendors and suppliers who do a good job. Same with dealers. When the dealer cheats – bust him. Don’t make everyone else pay because you can’t or won’t take time to manage the claim reimbursement process.

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of trust. Perhaps the answer is to reward the honest dealers with a self-authorization policy. If the dealer is under 2.5 percent of purchases and isn’t one to nickel and dime you – pay his claims.

Chuck Marzahn moderates virtual 20 Groups for RV dealers in the U.S. and Canada. He can be reached for comment and questions at [email protected].

Chuck Marzahn

Chuck Marzahn is a partner with Marzahn & King Consulting, a well-known consulting and training firm specializing in the RV industry based in Virginia Beach, Va. He can be reached for comment and questions at [email protected]

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