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The manufacturers’ pro-rata warranty for lead acid batteries, for as long as I can remember, has been, with a few exceptions, a consumer rip off.
That has finally been proven in a class-action lawsuit against Johnson Controls, a company that purchased Globe Union some years ago, one of the largest manufacturers of lead acid batteries in the world.
Johnson Controls, like Globe Union had, distributes batteries that will be marketed under different labels, including a number of very popular ones.
The problem with their warranty, and what finally brought on the lawsuit, was that it was based on an exaggerated retail price that cut the actual time of the warranty nearly in half.
If a consumer bought a 60-month guaranteed battery for, say $75, and it failed after 40 months, he might discover that he had no warranty left, because the pro rata was based on a retail price of $120 or more.
The pro-rata warranty, done right, is as fair as fair can be. You pay $75 for a battery, and you expect to get 60 months service out of it.
If it fails after 40 months, then a new battery with a fresh 60-month warranty should cost you $50.
How hard is that to figure out?
If, for some reason you no longer have a use for the battery, it seems reasonable that you could expect to get a refund of $25. After all, you didn’t get what you paid for.
The manufacturers, though, rather than simply putting fairness into their pro-rata warranties, have chosen to apply a free replacement warranty to satisfy the lawsuit.
Now when you buy that $75 or $95 battery, you’ll get a 12-month or 24-month free replacement warranty.
If the 24-month battery fails in 23 months, you’ll get a new battery to replace it for no charge, but you’ll only have a one-month warranty on the new battery.
If it fails after the warranty period, you’ll have to pay full price for the replacement. Some of the new warranties are as little as three months.
Not all retailers buy into the manufacturers’ warranties.
Some will sell under their private label and still use the new limited free replacement warranty.
Battery Specialists, so called because of the volume and diversity of their inventory, almost always back their own pro-rata warranty, and it’s done fairly.
Some of the auto parts stores do the same.
You would be well advised to know what type of warranty, and the extent of it, before putting your money into batteries that were subject to the recent class-action law suit.
All manufacturers, not just Johnson Controls, have adjusted their warranties to comply with the law.
Many of the resellers, though, will simply continue to treat you fairly.