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More warranty grief

All warranties, no matter where from or what they are regarding, have a clause that says something to the effect of “warranty does not cover owner misuse or neglect.” This is to prevent people from abusing the system and getting things for free that they don’t deserve.

A guy came into the store claiming that his battery did not start his motorcycle. At first I thought he meant that we had sold him the wrong battery, so I looked it up and there were no alternatives. When I told him that, he said. “no, it used to work, but then I haven’t used the bike all winter, and now it doesn’t work at all.”

Here’s a technical sidenote that is important to this story: All batteries lose power over time. It may not be much, but depending on the conditions the battery is stored under (i.e. freezing temperatures like those that are found over a winter of non-use), the battery can lose enough power that it can no longer be recharged and thus, used.

So. Knowing this, the first question I ask when I hear a motorcycle battery no longer works after winter is if the owner has been using any sort of battery maintainer. This is a device you can buy that keeps the tiniest charge on the battery over long periods of sitting idly. It’s not enough to overcharge and cause damage, just enough to keep the battery “awake.” No, this guy hasn’t been using one of those. But dag nabbit, his battery doesn’t work and there’s supposed to be a warranty! In fact, since we never told him he needed to use a maintainer, it’s our fault his battery is dead and he should get a new one for free. You know, because of the warranty. The warranty that specifically says that it only covers manufacturer defects and NOT owner neglect. When I point this out to him on his copy of the receipt that he brought with him, he demands to know specific examples of what constitutes owner neglect. So I pull out one of the many thick books that contain our training information (remember that training to work in this store took about 2 months because of all the technical knowledge) and begin to look up the numbers. He storms off in a huff claiming that “he doesn’t have time for this.”

I go ahead and test his battery, since I’ll need the test results for the warranty anyway. Hmmm… the battery tests good. It tests better than new. But of course since he left, I can’t tell him that a warranty won’t replace a perfectly good battery and that just maybe there’s a problem with his bike that he has apparently no idea how to take care of. But something tells me he wouldn’t want to hear that anyway.

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