The Value of Offering a Lifetime Guarantee

Po Campo offers a lifetime warranty on its products, which is kind of unusual for a fashion oriented brand. We started doing that in early 2013, despite not drastically changing our products to go from 3 year warranty to lifetime warranty. Does that seem odd? Keep reading.

Like must industrial designers, making quality product is important to me. Nothing upsets me more than the thought of bringing crappy things into the world that end up in a landfill after a few months. But how do you know you’re making quality products? This is trickier than I thought it would be.

Since the word “quality” is subjective, defining and specifying it isn’t straightforward, especially in soft goods where there a lot of places to cut corners or make substitutions. With every production run, I learn something new about what to source or specify because something new goes wrong. And often times what goes wrong is not apparent at first, only when products are used a lot and don’t hold up. Then you have justifiably angry customers, which upsets me because I feel I owe my customers more than that.

What I realized last year was that even though it bummed me out to hear about problems with the bags, we were really dependent on learning about the issues so we would know what to fix on the next production run. Some people will tell you if they’re having problems on their own volition, but a lot of people won’t tell you and will instead just think you make junky stuff, which is the last thing I want to happen.

I thought to myself, “How can I find out about every and all problem our customers are having with our products?”. Then it hit me: a lifetime warranty!

Since implementing the lifetime warranty, the number of returns and emails have definitely gone up, which is exactly what I wanted to happen. One or two issues that I thought were minor or rare turned out to be more common than I had expected, so we made fixing them a priority.

Now that I’ve accepted that everything is pretty much a work in progress, I’m focused on constantly iterating to make all our bags better and better. Eventually we will get to the point where returns are few and far between. We’re working towards that.

If you make your own products, how do you learn about people’s experiences with them? What kind of warranty do you offer, and why?