Much debate surrounds what issues should be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty in the catering equipment industry, with distributors often finding themselves at odds with the supply chain and having to cover operator call-outs themselves.
As a vital appliance in a commercial kitchen, the problem can be especially acute for warewashers, especially when there may only be a single unit on the premises. So how can suppliers work together with distributors to minimise warranty misunderstandings?
For instance, at Maidaid Halcyon, it offers warewashers with varying warranty periods, depending on range and the options selected by each distributor.
Sales director Julian Lambert detailed: “Should the distributor customer select full parts and labour warranty at the time of placing the equipment order, a record of these warranty conditions will be logged on both the sales transaction at Maidaid Halcyon. Otherwise to ensure the quickest response, customers are advised to contact our preferred service partner Crystaltech Services.
“Maidaid Halcyon works closely with our distributors and offers free monthly sales and technical training on our product range. This not only assists our distributors in the selling and maintenance of our equipment but also educates them in warranty responsibilities i.e. what is and isn’t covered by warranty. We recently produced an operational training manual for dish and glasswashers which has assisted our distributors and has helped their end user as well.”
Elsewhere, Hobart assists distributors by keeping its warranties in-house. However, it does recommend that any warranty calls are initially placed with dealers as the initial problem could be simple to overcome or could lie with units connected to the machines, such as tabling.
Tim Bender, sales director of Hobart Warewashing UK commented: “The need for training for usage on catering equipment is imperative – as looking after the warewasher will reduce costs, extend life and result in cleaner ware. Hobart offers free training for the life of its machines.
“Common warranty faults are a turned off water supply, electrics not turned on or no chemicals on machine which could be making for poor results. In many cases it’s a lack of training that causes operators to report a fault code. We ensure we cover these things off in operator training but with high kitchen turnover you might get someone not up to speed on the machine calling up.”
Over at Sammic it also offers training to its distributors and engineers on request to provide a better understanding of its machines. Service manager Les Starling detailed: “We encourage that the units are installed by a competent person and are fully commissioned. We also offer this service to distributors who do not have engineers via our own or independent subcontractors that have attended our courses and are familiar with the product.
“Although operators may see this as an expense they do not need, distributors should explain that this may prevent larger costs in the future and voiding warranties through poor set up or not conformity to current electrical regulations and water bylaws.”
Sammic will always speak to the end user if a distributor passes on a call, to try and resolve the issue over the phone and prevent costly call-outs. Starling cautioned: “While we are here to help and advise our customers, we cannot be held responsible for negligence or ignorance.”
DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems believes that another way to reduce inadvertent breach of warranty is to correctly specify the machine in the first instance.
Director Bob Wood explained: “For example, specifying softeners in hard water areas is vital, and identifying poor water pressure at site survey stage can often remove complications further down the line.” DC offers a comprehensive purchasing guide in its catalogue and its website to help distributors and end users in this regard, as well as free sales training at its Somerset offices.
Wood added: “If dealers are new to our machines we’d recommend a visit to learn in depth about specifying, installations and maintenance. By having a thorough grip of the do’s and don’ts, distributors are in a good position to relay how to operate and look after the machine and not end up outside of the warranty conditions. A customer signed handover document can also be helpful.”
Italian manufacturer Krupps can call on its spares partner First Choice Group to assist with parts for warranty call-outs. The firm has also developed an authorised service network to cover the whole of the UK. However, export MD Riccardo Scuotto revealed that due to Krupps’ wi-fi-connected warewashers, many engineer visits are avoided, as technicians can access a machine’s data through any internet-connected device to diagnose errors.
He added: “Dealers and end users are unfortunately used to what importers and manufacturers have educated them on in the past, and today any warranty condition changes are difficult to introduce. For instance, to extend a Krupps machine warranty from 12 to 24 months, an end user is obligated to use the unit’s wi-fi connection. Otherwise the warranty remains at 12 months.”
Scuotto underlined that it is important for distributors to complete machine commissioning alongside end users to educate them on how to use the warewasher.
Over at Meiko, it reports that the ‘no bills’ guarantee it offers, including planned maintenance, is an attractive feature to distributors.
UK MD Paul Anderson advised distributors: “Ensure full warranty clarity is given to end users, allowing them to be fully aware of the investment and that the support is there to back it up. We ourselves take pride on our service and back up, so of course to offer this via our distributor partners creates a great turnkey solution.”
Of Meiko’s own offering, he detailed: “We pride ourselves on offering a first-class service support helpdesk, manned and operated by a dedicated team based in Meiko UK. From here we can ascertain the issue, respond incredibly fast with a focused team of Meiko employed engineers, all of which carry thousands of Meiko parts.
“Upon attending, we then feedback the details to the distributor, informing them of the solution required or indeed the actions taken to have rectified the cause. From this alone we achieve a 95% first time fix rate.”
Elsewhere, Electrolux Professional UK’s category manager for warewashing, Steve Bowler, asserted: “It’s important to remember that warranty packages are a clear display of the manufacturer’s faith in their equipment, and should definitely come under the scrutiny of potential investors. Standard warranty will inevitably be offered, but don’t rule out extended warranty packages too, as it is inconceivable for many outlets to operate without a dishwasher for
even a day.”
He underlined: “At Electrolux we always advise both our dealers and customers to take time to fully review the warranty conditions, as we have received some claims that could have been prevented, or in some instances fallen outside the warranty agreement. If everyone involved is fully up to speed with the parameters of the warranty, the best course of action can be quickly identified to keep costs to a minimum.”
At supplier, Project Distribution (Prodis), national accounts manager Darren Mairs feels that: “It is important to train and educate the end user at the point of installation about their obligations with regards to maintaining and caring for their machine, so that breakdowns and non-warranty call outs are reduced or eliminated completely.”
As soon as a warranty call reaches the firm’s service department, it assigns it with a fault code based on the problem’s description. This then triggers a checklist which Prodis can then run through with the dealer to attempt to solve the issue over the phone.
Mairs added: “Although the terms of our warranty are clearly laid out there is always confusion as to what is and what is not covered under a warranty callout, which is why we always contact a dealer before attending a call which may fall outside of the warranty terms.”
Winterhalter also has a technical support team to cover warranty calls, though UK service manager Barry Spicer urged: “Dealers need to assess the nature of any fault and establish whether it is a machine-related or site-related issue. A key piece of advice for dealers would be to complete a full site survey before supplying a machine. This survey would ensure that the correct machine is selected and would avoid failures or the need for a chargeable call-out.
He detailed: “From experience, most dealers understand the warranty. However, some dealers are reluctant to accept their responsibilities. For example, problems may be related to installation rather than the machine directly. Some dealers will ask us to relay information only to them, rather to deal direct with the customer.”
At Classeq, it aims to arrive onsite between 24-48 hours following a warranty call if a problem cannot be solved on the phone.
Marketing manager Adam Lenton said: “We would advise that dealers let end users know what is actually covered under their warranties when first installing a machine. Then we would advise that they carry out checks over the phone first with the customer, identify what the fault is and then from that we can see what procedure is applicable.
“Dealers and end users are provided with training by our salespeople and also our engineers. We do our upmost to make sure that people are kept up to date with the machines and how to maintain them. We ensure that they know they can contact us should an issue arise. We believe that our aftercare is second to none.”
While Wexiödisk offers two call-out options. The first is the dealer using their own in-house engineers to cover and fulfil the in-warranty work. According to UK and Ireland country manager John Shepherd: “This enables them to provide a more cost effective and often quicker response to their customer. This also benefits the dealer or distributor, as they are able to utilise of a lower purchase price on our warewashing equipment.”
Option two is where Wexiödisk takes responsibility for the warranty and the call is passed directly to its service department.
Shepherd said: “It’s important that the warranties we offer are simple and straightforward. By keeping the warranty black and white, there can be no ambiguity as to what is and what is not covered. If the fault is with the machine, it is covered. If the fault is with an external factor, it is not covered.”
Over at Smeg UK, it works with Cannock-based Servevast to cover warranty calls. Furthermore, the manufacturer will shortly be employing a technical service manager to assist with supporting dealers and end users, plus the upcoming wi-fi-enabled machine launch should allow faults to be resolved using remote diagnostics.
Smeg UK commercial channel director Phil Coulstock revealed: “Distributors and especially end users believe warranty covers everything and occasionally we find pressure being put on us from both parties to attend as a priority, when it’s clear end user misuse of our equipment, as a perceived warranty obligation.
“We are going to be investing this year to better educate our users and distributors as to how best to install, use, maintain, protect and prolong the use and working life of our machines through revised end user staff training programmes, install engineer training and awareness as well as distributor product training.”
Elsewhere, according to David Rees, group marketing manager of HTG Trading, which owns Hubbard Systems, supplier of the Comenda warewasher range: “A manufacturer’s warranty is designed to cover labour and replacement of parts in the case of component failure. It is not a substitute for planned maintenance or effective and regular cleaning methods. Hubbard Systems’ experts are ready to assist with training staff or providing advice on correct use of equipment.”
This takes the form of a dedicated service team which logs warranty calls, as well as the use of an approved contractor network.
Rees concluded: “Hubbard links well with its dealer network and therefore can ensure that they remain well informed. Often the queries raised about warranty responsibility originate from the customer on site. To support our dealers, Hubbard Systems offers free on-site training and tips about cleaning, equipment operation and use. This helps ensure non-warranty call-outs are kept to a minimum.”