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How Do Companies Prove Their Worthiness to Customers

General Motors had run a series of ads about the quality of their cars. The gist of the message was about being a “world class” company. The proof of their “world class” status was a 60-day money back guarantee on new car purchases. The commercial got me thinking about what techniques companies use to prove their worthiness to customers and potential customers.


Nordstrom is legendary for their return policy. There is an apocryphal story that has been around for years. In the story, a customer returns car tires to Nordstrom even though Nordstrom has never sold car tires. Instead of disagreeing with the customer, they took the tires back. What great PR! They are willing to accept a little bit of abuse in order to emphasize the message that Nordstrom stands behind all its products.

Broken buttons happen when dress shirts are sent to commercial dry cleaners. Periodically, I needed to replace buttons that were broken. Sometimes, it was not easy to find matching buttons. Then, Nordstrom came out with non-breakable buttons. The guarantee was that if a button broke they would replace the entire shirt, not just the button. I actually had a button break and received a new shirt. The result is that I have only purchased dress shirts from Nordstrom for over 15 years.

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean’s guarantee says, “Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.”

The products have a lifetime guarantee. If you are not happy with the product return it no matter how long you have owned it. The guarantee is a great hook to help tilt a buyer in favor of L.L. Bean. I have purchased L.L. Bean products for 25 years. I recently was in one of their stores where I inquired about the best way to repair a seam that ripped in the hood of my jacket. After looking at my jacket, the associate indicated the rip should not have happened. L.L. Bean replaced my three-year-old jacket. Now that is a guarantee. I have already shared the story with a number of people. They created a perfect scenario for positive Word of Mouth Marketing.


Kohl’s is a mid-priced department store. They have good values on many of the products that they sell. I was making a couple of purchases recently when I noticed their slogan. “Our ‘yes we can’ attitude starts when you walk in the door and never stops.” It fits well with my experience returning a waffle maker that had a defective control. The broken product was cheerfully swapped for a new one.


Is it a coincidence that each of the examples is a retailer? These examples came to mind because we all transact business with retailers. Commercial, industrial and service business may have similar guarantees. But does a customer or prospective customer know about the guarantee?

The Takeaway

Guarantees, warranties and other promises about a product or service should be publicized upfront to help close the sale. They provide a “halo” effect to the quality of your product or services.

That is what I am thinking. Over to you – your thoughts? Please respond in the Comments field below.

  1. Do guarantees incentivize you to do business with certain firms?
  2. Does your business offer guarantees or warranties?
  3. How have guarantees and warranties impacted your sales?

Copyright © 2010 Rob Berman