(Issue: August 2021)

NLB Recognizes Trusted Warranties 

By Craig DiLouie, CLCP, LC


      

Lighting management companies routinely deal with warranty issues for lighting products that they maintain and/or install as part of an upgrade. These issues take on even more importance when the supplier is relatively new. 
 
In all cases, the lighting management company wants to know: Is the warranty easy to find, clear in its terms, and honored in an expeditious manner? 
 
To support the industry, the National Lighting Bureau (NLB) developed the Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program. Manufacturers apply for an audit against public criteria and receive a Trusted Warranty certificate, which they can display along with the associated seal in their marketing materials. 
 
“There are companies, some of which are new, that have great innovative products, but the market has been reluctant to use products from unfamiliar manufacturers,” said Howard Lewis, Chair of the NLB. “By offering a trusted warranty, we hope to put the market at ease that a particular product, and the company, can be trusted.” 
 
For manufacturers, the program provides a way to demonstrate they stand behind their products, differentiating themselves from potential bad actors. In particular, new manufacturers can use it to build trust. For lighting management companies, it can help make dealing with warranty issues easier while addressing risk in recommending and installing new suppliers and products. 
 
Lighting product and component manufacturers who sell in the United States and Canada are eligible to apply. The program’s criteria cover accessibility, internal support, clarity, relation of terms to reliability testing, warranty insurance based on length of warranty compared to years in business, and responsiveness to warranty claims. These criteria are valued at 11 points, of which the manufacturer must earn eight to quality for the Trusted Warranty certificate. 
 
Formal warranty. The auditor verifies the manufacturer has a documented warranty that is readily accessible on its website and supported with formalized internal procedures and resources. 
 
Warranty language. The auditor verifies the warranty is concisely and clearly written, including a start date. If prorated, the warranty must clearly identify it as such and define how proration is calculated and what it means. 
 
Warranty insurance. Either the manufacturer must have been in business longer than the warranty length or provide warranty insurance that will cover any obligations. 
 
Technical evaluation. The auditor will check two randomly chosen SKUs for reliability testing, with credit given for each SKU for which reliability testing was completed, whether internal or external. 
 
Claims review. The auditor will randomly choose three claims from the preceding 12 months and evaluate the trail from notification to completion of the claim. The auditor will then evaluate whether the manufacturer acted expeditiously. 
 
The NLB developed the program in 2019-20 with input from various industry organizations including NALMCO, which is an NLB member. The COVID pandemic delayed and softened the 2020 launch, with virtual instead of in-person audits. As of May 2021, NLB has awarded 18 certificates. 
 
Randy Reid, Executive Director for the NLB, is hopeful that as awareness of the program builds, it will lead to Trusted Warranty status being added to specifications. By 2023, he added, he hopes it will go mainstream in the industry, creating a stronger playing field. 
 
For lighting management companies, Trusted Warranty status provides a metric to evaluate manufacturers and products while mitigating risk in dealing with warranty issues. 
 
“Lighting management companies should start asking manufacturers if they have a certificate,” Reid encouraged. 
 
To learn more, visit the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program at NLB.org/trusted-warranty-program.

 

Craig DiLouie, CLCP, LC, principal of ZING Communications, Inc., is a consultant, analyst and reporter specializing in the lighting and electrical industries, and a regular contributor to LM&M. You may contact Craig at cdilouie@zinginc.com.