Working within a vinyl warranty’s guidelines ensures protection if the media fails. However, capitalizing on the warranty in the event of product failure requires diligent record keeping. The most important element for the smooth redemption of a warranty occurs before a problem ever happens.
"The best thing print service providers (PSPs) can do is keep a print log," suggests Josh Culverhouse, technical sales specialist, Oracal USA. Meticulously documenting everything about the job—the date and the media, ink, and printer used—is critical to quickly claiming a warranty.
Culverhouse says, "It’s very crucial to report lot numbers—all of our products have lot numbers imprinted every twelve inches." The lot number helps vendors track the media in question, in the event of a recall or customer warning. When a customer places a call regarding a certain vinyl, Oracal cross references it with an archive print sample of the same product. "We can reverse engineer what happened in the shop. It helps us find patterns in our own product, which speeds up the process for everyone." A media failure could be part of a bad lot, or simply a one-off.
Do not simply take notes while the project is active, keep them on file afterwards. Many vinyls used for wrapping commercial fleet vehicles come with a seven year warranty. On year six, the customer may return with a problem. Having a job on file in writing is essential to assessing the situation and making a claim with the manufacturer.
Include an installation log that lists what materials were used during installation and any unusual or notable issues that occurred. The more detail the better. Warranty phone calls are frequently routed to a dedicated support department, who require a comprehensive run down of everything related to the job before issuing compensation.
"This isn’t done to prevent a customer from accessing their protection, but to ensure we don’t have a problem with our product that we don’t know about," explains Claudia Lazar, technical director, Arlon, Inc.
When calls come into MACtac Graphic Products a dedicated team—complete with chemists—examine printed samples and review the printing process with customers to determine what went wrong, shares Rick Moore, director of marketing, MACtac.
Familiarize customers with the conditions placed on the warranty. They shouldn’t expect that installing vinyl over glass prevents windows from shattering. Knowing the customer’s intentions alerts the PSP about their ideas on media performance—if they plan to use the product in a manner that voids the warranty. "We have never had a vinyl fail on us, but we have had issues with customer expectations," admits Steve Trifiletti, president, ABC Sign Systems, based in Pennsauken, NJ.
When an issue arises, the best thing to do is act quickly. Some warranty claims have a limited shelf life after the incident has been reported. Most suppliers appraise and approve a warranty claim within 15 days.
Read more about vinyl warranties in the March print issue of Digital Output.