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  1. #1
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    Angry Meaning of a Lifetime Warranty

    I have a 1998 Litespeed Owl Hollow. It was produced only for a few years. I have love riding this bike and have maintained it well. About Five years after I bought it (new) a crack developed between the top and down tube. Litespeed was very courteous and repaired the bike without hesitation or question.
    It developed small hairline cracks at the junction of shock mount weld onto the down tube on both sides of each mount.
    This time, American Bicycle Group (who owns Litespeed and Merlin) demanded a copy of the original reciept and pictures before accepting the frame for repair. Luckily, I found the original receipt and send a copy along with pictures.
    The "warranty committee" decided that the cracks are not covered under the lifetime warranty because the bike is "too old"
    My question is, when does a bike become "too old" to be covered by a "lifetime warranty"?
    Am I unreasonable in expecting them to repair the frame or at lease offer me a replacement frame?
    They did offer a "crash replacement" frame but I would have to cut the bottom bracket of my bike and send it to them!! I don't want to destroy this bike.
    Am I way off?

  2. #2
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    I personally think the lifetime is up. Suppose the frame was 100 years old? Nothing lasts forever. I would take the discounted frame and call it a good day.

  3. #3
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    I agree with Mr. Jammer. As an owner of a Merlin Echo, lifetime waranteed, circa 1999, perfectly maintained, has that used up it's lifetime? Says who? If lifetime is held to the original owner, you've done what you're supposed to and provided documentation as such. It's their warantee policy, not yours. Are you being unreasonable? Absolutely not. Good luck and please report back.

  4. #4
    MTBR Member
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    I don't think that your warranty claim should be denied based on time. If a company only wants to provide warranty support for 10 years, they should only offer a 10 year warranty. If they claim a lifetime warranty, they should provide a lifetime warranty.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammerjam View Post
    The "warranty committee" decided that the cracks are not covered under the lifetime warranty because the bike is "too old"
    My question is, when does a bike become "too old" to be covered by a "lifetime warranty"?
    Am I way off?
    You are right on ... they are feeding you BS.
    Contact Lightspeed (ABS) and request a formal appeal - also provide a link to this thread.

  6. #6
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    What is this world coming to?
    I agree with most that THEY said lifetime (not you) and should honor as such.
    I especially agree with flatsix911 in that you should call a bluff.
    Also, you didn't say which "replacement" frame they were offering.
    I also see that you're up to enough posts to post up pictures.......

    post up pictures......

  7. #7
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    I will post some pix. Thanks y'll. I thought I was perhaps off base.

  8. #8
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    Make up a letterhead from the law offices of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe stating the legal definition of "lifetime" and "our client" is still alive . . .

  9. #9
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    Welcome to the world of the AGB group. But any lifetime warranty has you over a barrel because they state that normal wear and tear is not covered. So how does one prove your damage is from normal wear and tear vs manufacture assembly or material defect? You probably are not going to be able to. It depends on the company and how well they want to treat their customer, and AGB has a dismal record of that.

  10. #10
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    Lifetime warranty

    A lifetime warranty can indicate only a number of years (as defined as a "lifetime" for a
    particular item). Thus the lifetime of a product is not an "unlimited" time period, but a defined period. Unfortunately, welcome to the wonderful world of business! Where rules are as fluid as water, and a contract is not as good as the paper it is written on.

    Many years ago, a person's word was their bond, and a handshake was enough to ensure a deal was binding. Folks also did not make outlandish claims against companies, like suing a bungie cord manufacturer when it snaps (because it was used to jump off a bridge, incidently not what it was intended to be used.).

  11. #11
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    Blaming tube failure on normal wear and tear is simply unacceptable. Keep on them, make them honor the rules of the warranty policy they wrote. Lifetime means your lifetime.
    Côte du Petit Pas d'Ane - Best climb name ever.

  12. #12
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    Warranty honoured on 99 Merlin

    Two years ago, I had a chainstay crack right near the drop-out. They originally denied the warranty claim stating that there was no lifetime warranty on 1999 Merlins. I had the original lifetime warranty card and the bill of sale. Working through the Merlin dealer, here in Toronto, we sent a scan of the documents and presto the repair was covered under warranty
    Last edited by Chainstay; 02-06-2012 at 08:52 AM.
    "It's supposed to be automatic, but actually you have to push this button. "
    — John Brunner (Stand on Zanzibar)

  13. #13
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    From their website (Bolding by me):

    "Litespeed Limited Warranty:
    Litespeed Bicycle's frames are warranted to be free from manufacturing defects in material and/or workmanship for the lifetime of the original owner. Litespeed branded forks, paint and decals are warranted for 1 year against defects in material and workmanship. Alignment and water bottle bosses are warranted for 30 days from date of purchase. This warranty is redeemable only by the original owner when purchased and maintained through an authorized Litespeed dealer.

    It seems like you should be covered as long as the conclusion is manufacturer/material defect.

    As someone who's job often entails making the final decision on large warranty claims I do have one recommendation to make. Save the angry, threatening stuff for the end if you don't get satisfaction by being polite and reasonable.

    When a customer says to me something along the lines of "I have always been very happy with your product and recommend your company to everyone", it goes a long way in helping me make my decision in questionable cases. In this instance, if they wanted to, they could probably pursue the "damage from conditions outside of reasonable use" angle and without quite a bit of expense on your part, it would be hard to prove.

    Have you tried going to the shop you bought it from and asking them to assess the damage and advocate for you directly? I do that for my customers where they have purchased products from me that are only covered by the OEM warranty. Being a high volume client, I can call in favors and have substantially more leverage than my average customer would on their own. Your shop should be willing to do this for you.

    Best of luck and keep us posted.

    EDIT: I just read a bit further by clicking down on their warranty page.

    "Useful Product Life Cycle

    Every Litespeed frameset has a useful life cycle. This useful life cycle is not the same as the warranty period.

    This warranty is not meant to suggest or imply that the frame cannot be broken or will last forever. Bicycles and/or frames will not last forever. The length of the useful life cycle will vary depending on the type of frame, riding conditions and care the bicycle receives."

    THIS IS A LOAD of CARP

  14. #14
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    CheapTrek, thanks for the advice. I was very nice and cordial and asked them to please reconsider several times. I told them I own three other Litespeeds and have had a very pleasant experience with both my bikes and the company. But they stuck to their "the bike is too old" line. I also took the frame to several bike shops including one that is a Litespeed dealer, and they all told me they thought this should be covered under the warranty. The dealer even called his salesperson and called me to tell me he couldn't get anywhere either. I am frankly puzzled by this attitude.

    I am posting a picture of the cracks.

  15. #15
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    I will be interested to see them. Hopefully some of the folks on here who understand the nuances of Ti metallurgy and fabrication can help you substantiate your claim.

    I have been bouncing back and forth between buying a Moots or a Litespeed for a while now and reading what you are going through has pretty much sealed the deal when I do decide to pull the trigger.

    In the name of fairness, I went to Moots warranty and it reads almost the same as Litespeed's. I guess it all boils down to execution on warranty claims and I think I will take my chances with Moots rather than deal with a company that treats a customer like yourself so callously.

    Kind of makes me wish they would all just drop the "Lifetime" claim and throw a defined time frame on it.The idea of some vague warranty that is left up to the subjective analysis of people who have a vested interest in denying a claim is disquieting at best.
    Last edited by CheapTrek; 02-06-2012 at 11:29 AM.

  16. #16
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    Pictures of the cracks

    Here are the pictures I promised:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Meaning of a Lifetime Warranty-100_3175.jpg   Meaning of a Lifetime Warranty-100_3176.jpg   Meaning of a Lifetime Warranty-100_3174.jpg  

  17. #17
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    As an aside, ABG no longer owns Merlin. They sold that off.

  18. #18
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  19. #19
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    Thanks tacoracer, I just filed a complaint with the kentucky BBB.

  20. #20
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    I can't tell if what I'm seeing is a camera error or not. It appears that the tube side with the bracket seems just a tad bent in ward, like something pushed the bracket hard enough to bend it on the left side which in turn lifted the right side of the bracket just enough to make the weld failed and cracked the frame tube.

  21. #21
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    It must be an optical illusion froze. There is no bend in the tube.

  22. #22
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    Looks some rust in several spots. Ti doesnt rust?

  23. #23
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    Good pickup jtompilot. It's not rust but some dirt I didn't quite clean before taking the pictures.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammerjam View Post
    Thanks tacoracer, I just filed a complaint with the kentucky BBB.
    This is probably the best way to get satisfaction. The company I work for has had three complaints in the last three years (only one of them product related) and I have to tell you, when we get one, we do everything to close it out as quickly as possible.

    The idea that they warranty the product for the "lifetime" of the product is absurd. Using this logic, there would be no need for a warranty on anything as everything you can buy is essentially "good" until it is "no longer good".

    Might as well just say "We warranty our product under our subjective, undisclosed terms until it breaks and we decide we don't want to repair it".

    Ten BBB claims in the last three years and NINE of them for warranty issues? This does not speak well of the company's claims process and in a competitive marketplace like high end bikes, where your customers analyze and research EVERYTHING before pulling the trigger, you would think they would make it a point not to let things escalate to the BBB.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtompilot View Post
    I personally think the lifetime is up. Suppose the frame was 100 years old? Nothing lasts forever. I would take the discounted frame and call it a good day.
    Nothing lasts forever but the contractual obligations would be discharged as only the buyer is covered under it's terms. Let's face it, if you are lucky enough to live that long, the last thing you're worried about is having your MTB frame fixed.

    The question that needs to be asked is, "Is it unreasonable to expect a bike frame to last more than 13 years?".

    IMHO, so long as the bike is not abused there's no reason it shouldn't. Especially Ti. There are plenty of alum bikes from the early 90's kicking around out there and if anything is subject to metal fatigue they should be.

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