News, Retail

LED manufacturers write warranties to suit themselves. So write your own, says Sainsbury’s

Simon Waldron, electrical engineering manager at Sainsbury's, says a standard warranty on LED lights could cost the user more money than they expect if terms such as 'failure' are defined on the manufacturer's terms. Best to write your own warranties, he advises other retailers who are looking to upgrade their lights to LED.

Many warranties on LED products are ‘far from clear’ and could land the user with a higher cost of ownership than expected, the lighting boss of Sainsbury’s has warned.

Standard warranties on LED products don’t always cover colour shift or lumen depreciation and may have liberal definitions of what constitutes a ‘failure’ – and who covers the labour costs of replacing failed products.

As a result, the user could end up having to shell out unexpected sums, cutting into the savings they expected to achieve when investing in an LED upgrade.

‘The warranty terms are there to protect the manufacturer more than the buyer – that’s the wrong way around,’ said Simon Waldron, electrical engineering manager at Sainsbury’s, who spoke at Lux‘s Lighting for Retail and Hospitality conference in London today.

‘If a luminaire fails, should you be penalised by having to provide the labour to fix it,’ asked Waldron. ‘Make sure that you understand who’s got the responsibility and who from the manufacturer’s perspective handles a failure. Is it the installing contractor? And how long will a replacement take? Lighting is everything in retail, we don’t want the lights to be out.’

The best way to safeguard against unexpected failure costs, Waldron said, is to write your own warranty. Sainsbury’s did just that before embarking on its major LED rollout, which started last year.

Waldron disclosed: ‘Make sure the lumen output claims link back to the test data, and check if the test covers the whole luminaire.’

Waldron also warned against exceptional lifetime claims of up to 10 years, made by some manufacturers of LED products. ‘Statistics show that people generally don’t use their warranties, so it’s a tactic from the manufacturer to give the impression of a high quality product and meeting requirements of contractors.’

One of the biggest challenges facing retailers wanting to write their own warranty is manufacturers’ reluctance to disclose their test data. ‘I always ask for test data; manufacturers sometimes say that they don’t give out that information, but I insist that I want to know,’ Waldron said.

He added: ‘You need to have a technical understanding of the terms and conditions. The consequences of getting it wrong are significant; if you haven’t got a proper warranty in place, you’re at significant risk.’