Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Unlimited Warranties

Just once, I'd like to be able to use a lifetime guarantee. You know the kind I'm talking about: where a manufacturer promises to repair or even replace a product forever. 

Back in the late 80s, I briefly carried a ZIPPO lighter one summer. I didn't smoke, but I thought it was cool that ZIPPOs have a lifetime repair/replacement warranty. I carried it for several weeks, lighting fireworks that Fourth of July and lighting the ladies' smokes when the opportunity arose ... until it fell out of my pocket and I lost it. 

A few years later, while stationed in Germany, I broke the tip off my folding Buck pocket knife, digging in some dirt. I had specifically purchased the Buck because of their lifetime guarantee. But, on base, there were no Buck knives available. I got a replacement Gerber and stashed the broken Buck away, intent on replacing it later, when I was stateside once more. Years passed, my Buck forgotten in a box of junk, until one day in the 2000s when I came across it while cleaning junk out of my basement. I contacted Buck and found out I couldn't get my replacement, as that model knife wasn't made anymore. 

In 1997, I was carrying a Craftsman multi-tool, a present from my wife. I had asked for a Craftsman, as they had that same awesome Craftsman tools lifetime replacement guarantee. I think I carried it about two years before I broke it--snapped the pivot in the needle nose pliers trying to bend some wire for an emergency tailpipe hanger repair. When I went down to the Sears, I was told they no longer made multi-tools--there was no replacement to be had. I ended up getting store credit toward a new Leatherman multi-tool. I chose a WAVE. 

If you're not familiar with the WAVE, let me tell that it is THE BEST multitool. I mean, it's so good, you'll see the Mythbusters using one in early seasons of their show. I think Les Stroud carried one in an episode of Survivorman. It's got more tools than you'll ever need: two different knife blades, a file, a diamond file, scissors (great for cutting fishing line), can/bottle opener, screw driver, pry bar, and even a removable bit driver--and of course, I bought the bit set for that. 

I have carried my WAVE nearly every day, ever since its purchase. It's been useful around the house, the office, and on fishing trips. I thought it would never wear out or break. It's cut wire fence, belt and pulled nails, sharpened pocket knives... I once kept track of everything I used the WAVE for, every day, for an entire month. It was impressive just how useful this multi-tool really was. 

Had my WAVE somehow managed to break, I could have gotten it repaired by Leatherman. While not exactly the no-questions-asked, walk-in-and-swap-it-out warranty of Craftsman tools I grew up marveling at (my father had an eerie ability to break unbreakable craftsman tools), their warranty is nonetheless impressive. What their warranty doesn't cover is loss. 

My WAVE has been missing for weeks--vanished ever since a fishing trip with my daughter and father-in-law. At first, I thought my WAVE was misplaced in the house--I'd washed it in outdoors pants many times over the years (forgetting to remove it from a pocket), or laid it down in an odd place around the house during a project. I thought it might even have gotten kicked under a couch, or wedged into that annoying gap between seat cushion and recliner arm. I even checked my folded up fishing chair, and all my gear, thinking that maybe, on that last fishing trip, I'd tucked it away in the wrong place rather than my pocket, as I normally carried it. 

Regrettably, I have to face the sad truth: I've lost my WAVE, forever. When we were bank fishing, I had set my kid and I up next to a faded, gray picnic table on the lakeshore. There we laid out all our gear and set out fishing. We ended up breaking the line on one of our poles. I recall that in my haste to retie and get a line back in the water, I laid my stainless steel Leatherman down on that  picnic table.

We caught nothing that day--the water was too cloudy and probably too cold. We packed up our gear and headed back to the truck... and I apparently didn't see my WAVE on the table and left it behind. Hopefully, whatever angler eventually found it will get as much use out of this great tool as I did. 

WAVE, wherever you are, my respect. You were an unbreakable tool. You shall be missed. 

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