I remember hearing years ago about tire manufacturers agreeing that making tires too long-lasting would put them all out of business so they kind of settled on the junk we have now. It is probably true of many things in the automotive industry.
Excellent post nir, you nailed it. I remember hearing my parents, grandparents and Aunts & Uncles saying "they don't make em like they used to." Now more than ever, that's so very true across a broad spectrum of products. Products that last a lifetime are a dying breed and I'm with you. I find it refreshing that much of the tackle we use in this sport is built to last.
Heck, I'm already buying tons of gear because you know, you need a 2 wt and a 4 wt and a 5 wt and a 6 wt and then maybe an 8 wt and then a spey rod and then you need this or that reel because it looks cool or because of a new drag system or maybe you could get another spool for that new rio line, bla bla bla...
They already have plenty of strategies to keep us spending more money... No need to build cheap rods or remove guarantees... hehe
I happen to agree with most of the editorial. I think it is the fact that I grew up during the times of regular warranties against manufacturing defects and NOT no-fault warranties.
There was a time when the Sage RPL could be bought for about $185. The next year Sage brought out the no-fault warranty and the same fly rod was suddenly $250.00. Almost every other manufacturer then followed suit, and rod prices rose across the board.
Why did Sage do that? They wanted to one up Orvis's 25 year gurantee.
What happened is that Sage collected about 40% more per fly rod. That went to the bottom line because they collected this money and there were few rods being returned. If that "excess" profit was actually treated as insurance companies treat premiums, rod companies would not be in trouble now.
That money should have been invested and over time it grows. It is that growth that helps pay for the repairs. Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway fortune is built upon the premiums and investment of Geico Insurance premiums.
I can just about guarantee that that money was not held back and invested against future claims, but was taken home by the owners of Sage and spent. Overtime, you have this huge overhang of rod warranties and no funds to pay for the repairs, because those funds were not segregated from earnings as they should have been. The bump in rod costs were payments against future breakage. The purchaser was buying INSURANCE with the extra money the rods cost.
Now we have this mess. So yes, get rid of no fault rod guarantees. If the rod breaks because of a manufacturing defect, the rod company repairs it for free. But if an angler breaks the rod because it is his fault, it is his responsibility to get it fixed. Why should a fly fisher that cares for his equipment pay for the repair of a careless angler?
They don't even guarantee anvils for life and an anvil is harder to break than a fly rod.
The way I see it is and always has been pretty simple. If I buy a product, I expect it to do what it's intended purpose is. If it doesn't, the manufacturer needs to stand behind their product.
If it works,and is free from factory defects, and I break it myself, it's my fault, and I have to stand tke cost.
Let's say you build me a fly rod, and I take it to the water and fish with it. The rod is an object of grace and beauty, and I fish with it every weekend for a year. Then one day, I slam the car door on it. How could I imagine that is your fault, and expect you to replace it. I took responsibility for that rod a long time ago.
More practical warranties and lower prices make sense to me
I've thought through this on more than one occassion as well as read this editorial. A couple of comments:
The author wants to sell more rods - no question
I agree that the second hand rod market issue is certainly an issue for the manufacturers, but the level of which would be hard to determine and the fact remains that it still costs more to buy a second hand XP than a brand new Sage Approach, because I factor in the fact that I will have to pay for the repair when a rod breaks.
The accusation/statement that original warranties tier down to 2nd, 3rd, and so on down the line buyers is not true of a lot of rod manufacturers.
What the author, in my opinion, fails to realize is that if I break a rod, I want to be able to repair it - just like I could get my washing machine repaired, or my car repaired. Not, and I quote
If the angler breaks it, the rod should either go in the trash, or it is going to be costly to get it repaired.
. I don't mind paying for a repair, but if I'm responsible for the full cost of a repair, I don't want to pay $790 for my new Sage ONE 990. You can not tell me that part of the cost of that rod. I'd gladly pay $600 for that rod, and if I break it, then I'll pay $200 to fix it. That $200 across my entire line up of rods would actually enable me to have more money to buy additional equipment. This statement the author makes I agree with
We believe selling the warranty independently from the sale would have a positive effect on our industry. It would reduce the price of the initial sale and afford the customer the option of purchasing the insurance independently, even giving the consumer more options.
The next one in the same paragraph is questionable coming from a retailer
Beyond the hype, the differences between rods are minimal in the hands of all but the expert. It’s the Indian, not the arrow, that most often makes the difference, and most anglers know that.
Really? Then the only reason ever to buy a new rod is if one breaks? I wonder how the rod designers feel about that sentence coming from their retailers? I'll agree that it's the caster, not the equipment. But the equipment upgrades over the years are real. Cast a Sage RPL and a Sage ZXL and tell me there are no real upgrades that have been made. Is the RPL or SP or any other line a great rod - absolutely. Is the ZXL a more refined casting instrument - absolutely. But I still fish a Sage SP and love it every time I fish it. But the ZXL's I own are definitely more advanced rods.
I will go on record as stating that I believe unlimited lifetime warranties on fly fishing rods is dumb. I can think of very few things I own with the same type of unconditional warranty. If I break something, I should pay for the repair - but I want the cost to reflect this fact on my purchase price. Lower the original purchase price, I'll pay for the repair if it's my fault. If there is a problem with the blank or components and construction - it's on the manufacturer to repair it - and not charge me the processing fee. That's fair in my opinion. I also don't see how they can go back and put the toothpaste back in the tube on this one.
I understand the frustration of these retailers. It's got to be difficult to continue to make a living in this specialty market, especially with the second hand market and the practices of a few that definitely have refurbed a rod then sold it at a handsome price. But it's possible that those that did do the aformentioned used those funds to purchase the latest and greatest in fly rod design. I know when I sell a rod, it's generally to fund another tackle purchase. I don't have 2,000 eBay sales though... And I am one who falls for the "hype" and buys the "latest and greatest." But I cast 'em, and they ARE different, and I like 'em, and I'm going to buy one. But using the authors logic, it's just hype so I really only should purchase one after I throw my broken rods in the circular file. Never mind the fact that I own multiple rods across the same line weights in different rods & tapers because they perform differently in different situations - but that's just hype.
As an aside, I recently broke both of my nets, a "low end" steelhead net, which I slipped in the snow and fell on, and my nice Brodin trout net, which I busted when I slammed a ladder into it in my garage. When I went back to my local shop to buy a new trout net, the owner laughed and said "finally, something that doesn't have a lifetime guarantee!" We laughed and I get it. And I've bought a lot of rods from him over the years. But I also paid for that guarantee and would have preferred to have the choice of buying that "insurance" or not.
I would be curious to know what is the cost of minor repairs on a rod... Even High end ones.
For exemple, I just bought a TFO BVK. Comes with lifetime warranty for ORIGINAL owner... Which is totally how it should be...
However, if the rod breaks, they won't just send me a brand new rod free of charge... You still have a fee to pay... Around 30$ plus S/H... I don't see what is the problem with a guarantee like this...
Who is losing money in this chain of events? TFO attracts clients because of their bullet proof guarantee. They also encourage quite a few person (like me) to opt for brand new instead of used, which is good for retailer. I'm a happy customer because I have to break the rod about 9 times for the money spent towards repairs to be equivalent to the price of the rod.
You also have to think how much people out of all the people that buy the rod actually break them more then once and use the service?