Warranties: What you need to know

warranty

A brief history

The Uniform Commercial Code or UCC was first published in 1952. It is one of a number of uniform acts that have been promulgated to harmonize the law of sales and other commercial transactions in all 50 states within the United States of America. It is in fact adopted by all the states except the state of Louisiana.

The Uniform Commercial Code deals with the following subjects under consecutively numbered Articles:

Article 1: General Provisions Definitions, rules of interpretation

Article 2: Sales of goods

Article 2A: Leases of goods

Article 3: Negotiable Instruments Promissory notes and drafts (commercial paper)

Article 4: Bank Deposits Banks and banking, check collection process

Article 4A: Funds Transfers of money between banks

Article 5: Letters of Credit Transactions involving letters of credit

Article 6: Bulk Transfers and Bulk Sales Auctions and liquidation of assets

Article 7: Warehouse Receipts, Bills of Lading and Other Documents of Title Storage and bailment of goods

Article 8: Investment Securities and financial assets

Article 9: Secured Transactions secured by security interests

About warranties

This post about warranties therefore falls under the Article 2 of the UCC because just like sales, warranties are considered contracts. A warranty is a contract which guarantees that a product will work for a specific purpose for a specific period of time.

There are 5 different types warranties:

1) Implied Warranty of merchantability
The UCC defines a merchant as one who deals with goods of a particular kind and represents himself as having special knowledge, skills or expertise pertaining to those goods.
As the name implies, this type of warranty can only be provided by a merchant. It basically says that the goods being sold to the buyer are going to pass through the market place without objection. What does that mean you may ask. Well, it means that the goods are not necessarily the best or the worst in terms of quality or workmanship, but that the goods are going to satisfy their ordinary intended or qualitative purposes. Apart from durable goods, food and beverage sold for consumption at or away from the establishment also fall under this warranty. The only way a merchant can disclaim the warranty of merchantability would be by specifically declaring that the product is sold ‘As Is’, making it explicitly clear that the buyer assumes all liabilities should any harm occur from the consumption of the goods.

2) Implied warranty of fitness (for a particular use or purpose)
This type of warranty can be provided by either a merchant or a non-merchant. This warranty states that not only are the goods qualitatively fine, but that the goods are going to satisfy the buyer’s special or particular need for this particular product. In order to prove a breach of this warranty, the buyer would need to demonstrate that he or she told the seller of their particular need of this particular product and the seller represented that the goods will satisfy their needs, and they need to prove that they relied upon the representation.
An example: Let’s say Stuart has a boat and went to a Ford show-room looking for a vehicle that is powerful enough to tow the said boat. The sales rep showed him a Ford Focus and told him that it would be powerful enough to tow a boat. Stuart relied upon the sales rep’s recommendation and bought the little car only to have it breakdown, unable to tow the boat. Stuart can now go to the courts and sue Ford for damages.

3) Warranty of encumbrances
As complicated as it may sound, it simply says that the goods being sold to the buyer are going to be free of any legal encumbrance (judgments/leans).
An example: Our friend Stuart goes out and invents a new fabric cutting machine. He patents it and is now legally covered for 21 years by the patent law. Stuart’s competitor, Devlon, finds out about the invention and decides to copy it any way. A customer, Richard, comes into Devlon’s showroom and buys the machine from Devlon. Stuart, upon finding out that Richard is using his machine can now bar Richard from using the machine due to the patent violation. Richard on the other hand is protected by the warranty of encumbrances is able to turn around and sue Devlon for damages.

4) Express warranty
This is an easy one to explain. Express warranty is an affirmation of fact pertaining to the product. In most cases it will appear in many forms of the media including but not limited to newspaper ads, TV ads, Radio ads, Catalogues, or actual model/prototype on display at trade shows or retail store windows. It implies that the goods being sold to the buyer are going to conform to the description in the ad, brochure or catalog based upon the model or prototype displayed. If they do not, there is a breach of warranty and the buyer may sue the party responsible for the advertisement.

5) Warranty of title
It is implied that the goods being sold to the buyer are going to be transferred validly and proper legal title is being transferred to the buyer. As a general rule, the Warranty of title cannot be waived. An example of an exception would the Mercedes Benz impounded and sold by the cops at auctions. In such a case, if someone comes along and can provide documentation that the vehicle belongs to them, they would have legal grounds to claim it back.

We will look further into other types of contracts in our next post. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcomed.

The best Android smartphone. Part 3

This post is part of a series. To read the previous post click here. To read the first post click here.

Having the best product vs having the best marketing machine.

As indicated in our previous Android smartphone review, the LG G3 is hands down a much more complete product when compared to its Samsung counterparts. While both phones have health-related extra features like built-in pedometers and apps that shows how many steps you have taken in a day etc., Samsung actually goes much further in the bells and whistles department. It has a heart-rate monitor, fingerprint security, and air gestures to name a few (for a complete review and the assessment of the usefulness of these features please read our previous post here) but none of those features answer the questions of usability. They are nicecool-to-haves more than necessities.

LG on the other hand has developed a product that addresses the smartphone usage concerns of its customers. The phone’s features are very customer centric and very well thought out. We have not met a single person who has used the LG G3 and not absolutely love it. Yes, we also mean the cell-phone photographer enthusiasts. But here is the main obstacle that stands between LG and more market share: Marketing.

lg_android_web_traffic_growth_chart_chitika

Look at the chart above. What do you see? If you answer Samsung, rest assured you have no problem with your vision.

Now look a bit closer at the quarter to quarter adoption rate. Who is picking uo the most market share? Yup, it’s LG.
So the question is, who do you want to be in this race. We are not going to dwell on the fact that LG’s partnership with Google in producing the Nexus line of phones bogged dowb their marketing etc. Our focus is on analyzing who has a future and who doesn’t in this matchup. We would love to say it is LG, but with the Samsung Galaxy S6’s rumours already making rounds on the internet, it remains to be seen how long it would take for the consumers to figure out who is selling a superior product and who is just throwing out a bunch of phones and going they stick.
So far Samsung’s strategy has paid dividends and the company is the leader when it comes to Android handset sales. We would be very curious to see the results for the fourth quarter of 2014. Our prediction is that a slow-down (or worse a swing into the red) for Samsung would indicate serious issues and speak volume regarding the fact that the consumer class as a whole has made a decision to take their business elsewhere, be same way they did with HTC since late 2011.

We will update this post when the data is available.

Don’t Forget Small Business Saturday

Check out this great blog post about how supporting your local small business can have an impact on neighborhoods across the country.

Evans on Marketing

Nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a newer shopping promotion called “Small Business Saturday.” It generates several billion dollars in revenues annually. Founded by American Express in 2010, this shopping day is intended to promote the importance of supporting local businesses:

“In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The single day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part than ever before. This year, the big day is Nov 29.”

Small Business Saturday 2014

To assist small firms, American Express offers many tips.Click the image to see them.

Small Business Saturday 2 2014

And to assist shoppers, American Express has a locator for participating stores. Click the image to access it.

Small Business Saturday 3 2014

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6 Ways to differentiate yourself from the competiton

One of the most frustrating things for businesses of all sizes is the issue of dealing with a competitor. There is only so much marketshare, or cheese if you will, and every mouse in town wants a bite.

New businesses struggle to get their voices heard and be recognized as fresh, new, and different. Old, established business struggle to stay relevant and thwart competiton. Regardless of your comoany’s situation, always remember to differentiate yourself from the competiton. Every business has something special and unique to offer. Starbucks isn’t just a coffeeshop business now is it?

The following is a list of ways you can help your business differentiate itself from the competiton.

1) Elevate the conversation. Completely leave your competitor in the dust by offering a product or service so unique it is impossible for your competition to come up with a. fast enough counter punch. Tell the story and let it be known that you are not just a little bit better but that you are doing something significant and special. Something that plays an important role in the customers’ lives. If you are a paper company then go heavy on the recycled papers. If you are a healthcare provider then get the best doctors in your network. If you are a retailer then tout your customer satisfaction records. If you are a car dealer then advertise your transparency, honesty, and reasonable maintenance.

2) Outclass the competiton. The example of Bing vs Google and Microsoft’s Surface Pro vs Apple’s MacBook Air are precisely what we are talking about here. Make your competition out to be checklist driven and you position yourself as a company that matters to the customer. As much as Microsoft tries to show on paper that they meet more of the criteria of being a superior search engine or that their Surface Pro has more features than a MacBook Air, both Google and Apple will continue to win because they have outclassed Microsoft as brands that matter and make a difference in people’s lives. If you are in Microsoft’s position of being a newcomer, the pressure is on you to get rid of narcisism of small differences and stop the practice of highlighting immaterial nuances. It only cheapens your brand and makes you look desperate.

3) Stop following. What creates or exacerbate competition is the monotonous sea of sameness. The
“Me too” mentality as they say. Do you know why people bank with JP Morgan Chase despite them being known for their sky-high fees? It’s the business service they provide that is unlike any other bank. Sure every bank has online bank deposits, free checking and all the other bells and whistles, but what other bank would let you setup a read-only profile for a corporate accountant to download statements and help you stay ahead of the game? Set the trend. Don’t just follow.

5) Develop your brand. Avoid adopting stale, uninspiring statements and slogans. Have a slogan that stands out and represent what your brand stands for. Communicate that you are more than just another punching bag for your competiton. Consumers are just like us. Listen and know what is on their mind in order to develop your brand.

6) Build on past success. There are always going to be ups and downs in business. The key is to always assume a winning spirit and offer a message of victory. Talk positive. Exude encouragement. Success breeds nore success. Get inspired and inspire everyone around you to build a brand of positivity. Customers will respond to the positive vibes accordingly.

4 Ways to improve customer experience.

The case for a better customer experience.

Happy-Customer

Making a case for better customer experience is like convincing a fish to swim. It is understood and accepted by every business executive that providing exceptional customer experience is the best way to build customer loyalty and deliver superior service. It just makes perfect sense on paper. But how often is it followed through? I am writing this post as I am sitting at a branch of a top national bank waiting to open an account and give them my money. How long have I been sitting here you asked? Fifty minutes. And I haven’t even gotten to talk to the teller yet. And yes, I did ask them about opening the account myself online but they aren’t equipped to do that for this particular kind of account. They are very lucky that they have a product I want that no one else is offering or I would have been out of here 30 minutes ago. Needless to say, unless you are in a similar position and are able to provide a product or service that is so unique and so in-demand that customers will wait in line for hours for (iPhone 7 anyone?), your customers would simply go elsewhere.

For the rest of us who are not blessed with a holy grail and have to win customers the mere mortal way, here are some ways to improve customer experience.

1) Operational transformation. Let’s get the tough one out of the way first. Operational transformation involves changes in the operations which many times has to do with changing the culture of the business and how certain problems have been perceived in an organization for years or generations. This process could take a few years to complete. To begin, go through a customer touch-point assessment. Go over everything that is working well for the customer and identify what isn’t working so well. By doing this you should have a laundry list of things that need fixing. This will help you, as a company, prioritize what needs to be tackled first. Needless to say, you should begin by fixing smaller tasks first. Get the quick wins and build up inspiration and momentum along the way to get more difficult issues ironed out. Persistence and patients are your keys to success.

2) Digital integration. Using digital platform to communicate with customers such as social networks, a revamped website, accepting payments online, invest in creating a portal that enables customization of the customers’ products and services online. Online services are no longer “good-to-haves”. They are essential to doing business in today’s world even if your business doesn’t directly engage in doing any transactions online.

3) Listen. Have a feedback area on your website. Conduct surveys to obtain measurement and reporting of customer satisfaction levels. One of the more popular ways besides a survey is to gauge your company’s Net Promoter Score. With this method, you ask your customer only 1 question: “Would you recommend us?”. The more “Yes” you get out of the population, the better your Net Promoter Score. For anyone who answers no, make sure you ask a follow-up question with regards to their reason behind the answer. It may not be pleasant, but often truth isn’t, and growing pains is a part of business as much as personal life.

4) Cultural competency. Sensitivity training, cultural communication, interpretation and translation skills go a long way if you conduct business in a diverse geographical area or if you conduct your business internationally. Being sensitive to and understanding of your customer’s culture creates a rapport between the customer and the business and instills a sense of camaraderie. Suddenly you are no longer a business, but an adviser, a friend, a trust worthy ally they wouldn’t mind doing business with.

As mentioned earlier, making a case for improving customer experience is like convincing Congress to take a vacation. But for those who needs a gentle nudge, the following are some of the benefits of improving customer experience:
1) Increased brand loyalty.
2) Improved operational effectiveness.
3) Increased revenue and profit as a result of (1) and (2).
4) Improved customer retention.
5) Accelerated time to market for products.
6) Value added innovation for existing products.

Thanks for reading. Questions/comments are always welcomed.