a warranty does not equal a service commitment

There is tremendous pressure from the specification community for manufacturers to offer very long warranties on lighting equipment: 5 or 10 years is now the typical request. The usual comment goes something like “if you claim your product lasts for a bazillion hours, why don’t you back it up?

I find this naive on the part of the specification community.

A warranty doesn’t solve the fundamental problem that many LED fixtures are designed as “disposable” items instead of as modular assemblies based on industry standard parts.  Specifiers don’t like to imagine (or admit to their clients) that an entire fixture has to be replaced if it fails (and rightfully so), but the industry continues to foist non-serviceable products into the market.  However, demanding warranty coverage from manufacturers doesn’t cover a specifier’s ass.  The potential problem with servicing a dead fixture still looms.

Lighting specifiers are equating industry standard “warranty” coverage with some sort of “headache insurance”:  If the light fails, the manufacturer will take care of the problem.  But that is not what warranties cover.  They simply commit the manufacturer to providing a replacement for the failed equipment…they’ll ship you a new box of parts.What lighting specifiers really want is a service package in addition to a warranty.  If a light has failed, they want someone else (namely, the manufacturer) to take care of the problem at the site — to respond to the end user’s call, to “roll a truck”, to diagnose the problem, to source the proper parts, to replace the failed equipment — to make the headache go away.

Any time a lighting specifier is nagging a sales rep about warranty, that sales rep should have an offer ready for service coverage, whether from the manufacturer or from some other partner, VAR, etc.  Lighting service is a lucrative revenue stream that solves the very real problem of keeping lighting systems operating as intended.

And in the long term, with the dependable revenue of the replacement lamp market dying, service revenue will become hotly contested.

But of course, once the clients see the true cost for providing such coverage, will anyone want to pay for it in advance?