The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Over 20 years ago my siblings and I pooled our money and bought our dad a nice $60 Fathers Day watch from Eddie Bauer. The World Traveler watch that featured a map of the world with day/night overlay so he always knew, instantly, whether it was day time or night time in Moscow and Mumbai.
But as with many electronic devices, eventually - 2 or 3 years later - the watch capitulated and died. But fear not! Eddie Bauer's lifetime satisfaction guarantee is as ubiquitous as its flying goose logo. To test EB, my dad returned the watch with receipt to the store from which it was purchased. The store honored their guarantee and he left with a brand new watch. Not the same, but one of equivalent quality and masculinity.
Fast forward another couple of years. The watch, firmly fasted to my dad's wrist 24/7, once again yields to the pressure of time. My dad no longer has the box or receipt, but goes back to the same location and exchanges for a new watch of similar quality.
Fast forward another 3-4 years. Once again my dad's timepiece runs out of steam. This time they live 1000 miles away, have no receipt or case. Just a watch with an EB logo. He calls customer service to explain, and they happily mail him a $100 credit good for a new equivalent watch.
Fast forward another 5-6 years. My dad, perfectly content with his 4th watch, sadly watches it kick the bucket. Not deterred in the slightest, he excitedly calls the customer service line to explain the situation. True to its lifetime guarantee creed, Eddie Bauer mails my dad another $100 credit.
Fast forward another 4-5 years (if you're counting, that takes us to today). Like clockwork, my dad's 5th EB branded watch ticks its last tock. Perhaps he was a bit apologetic, perhaps giddy at the prospect of getting a new watch, or perhaps apprehensive at asking for another watch, I don't know (I could probably ask him). One thing I do know is that he is never angry. Not even at a watch brand that keeps on breaking. He is a gentle lovable giant among men. And he wasn't angry. He just called up again. Maybe everyone there knows him by now, or maybe he's just another customer. But at the end of the conversation they agree to send him a $120 credit to buy a new watch, an apology for the inconvenience, and their thanks at being a loyal Eddie Bauer customer.
And today my dad now has his 6th watch in 20 years. A $60 investment. And depending on how you measure ROI, up to an approx. 600% return. Not bad!