Two recent warranty issues have had me thinking a little about the backup behind bike things. You kind of take a warranty for granted when you bike a bike or a frame. The manufacturer says that if due to a manufacturing or design issue you break it they’ll replace it. Great. So when I recently found a crack in the seat tube of my Ragley Blue Pig X I though “No problem, I’ll take it back to the LBS and get it sorted.”
So I did just that, and to be fair my LBS were great. They asked about the seatpost length and insertion and from there agreed the seat tube shouldn’t have cracked and got in touch with Hotlines to sort a replacement frame. This isn’t the place for me to explain what a pain Hotlines are to get anything sorted with, but after 2 weeks of my LBS trying to speak to the one person who can seemingly do something about a warranty it transpired that Hotlines had no frames. Another couple of days of chasing and it came to light that Ragley no longer made the Blue Pig X Swapout, but I’d be able to get a Blue Pig mid-December.
That was late October. So 2 months or so to get a replacement frame. Not the same frame I had mind, no swapouts, no nice Columbus main tubes, just a straight Blue Pig. But its OK ‘cos I’d get refunded teh difference. Hmmm. Then I did a bit of digging. Ragley have redesigned the Blue Pig for 2013, mine was less than 18 months old. Its not the same bike I had, the frame has different tubes, braces, headtube gussets, cable routing… possibly more, no public details are available. Frankly, its not the bike I bought and not the bike I wanted. But I’m stuck with it, because Hotlines kept no spare frames for warranty.
Its now January, mid-December turned out to be Hotlines having no clue. That date was when they got the first production sample air-freighted over to check before signing off production. Mid-March seems to be the expected arrival for the frames now. That’ll be nearly 6 months of having no frame. Don’t forget the replacement one isn’t the same and isn’t (in my opinion) as good.
Contrast that with my recent dealings with Trek. In late November I noticed I’d cracked the chainstay of my 2011 Fuel EX, a now 2 year old bike. I couple of photos sent over and Trek confirmed they’d send over a new one, but they had nothing in stock ’til later in December. OK, I’ll have to wait (practised thanks to Ragley). Mid-December and an email to Trek reveals the boat won’t me in before Christmas, but no prob, they’ll send over a wrong coloured swingarm for me to get riding over the Christmas break. Ace!
Swingarm swapped over, riding merrily, I noticed (‘cos now I’m looking more) a hairline crack in the main frame, between the seat tube and top tube. Burgers. No sweat though it seems, as Trek are on the ball. No 2011 front triangles for the EX9 left, but would I like a 2012 one? Yes I would. A week later (with New Year in between) and two boxes arrive, one with a front triangle, one with a colour matched swingarm. No fuss, no bother. Nice.
So this got me thinking. The next time I’m buying something, like a frame or a whole bike, its worth thinking about what happens down the line if, when, it goes wrong. Its all well and good having a 5year warranty of a frame, but if a year later its not longer made and there are no spare ones about, that warranty is, frankly, worth shit.