TFO has offered the same no-fault lifetime warranty on all its fishing rods since being founded in 1995. Today, the warranty program is a core part of our business and an area that we’re constantly working to improve, so that it represents another value-based reason to be a TFO angler.
When a TFO rod is broken, we always want to get a TFO angler back on the water with as little hassle as possible. And with this goal in mind, our warranty program is built on two simple principles: First, we run it as a break-even part of our business – no profit. This means we charge the least amount possible to quickly repair or replace rods to get them back in the hands of TFO anglers. Second, we always try to be fair or in the angler’s favor when we make a warranty decision.
Sustaining these principles is getting more difficult for a few interesting reasons. First, all the major fishing rod manufacturers make very good rods. As a result, it is extremely rare that a rod breaks because of manufacturing or material defects. Tom Kirkman’s article Rod Failure does a great job of exploring the subject and provides easy-to-use examples to determine why a rod broke. We never like to be the bearer of bad news to our anglers, and the “why-your-rod-really broke” conversation can sometimes feel unfair.
Second, about 10 percent of the rods sent to us include no information about the owners. Nothing – no phone number, no address, no email. We just get a broken rod. Over the course of few months, this can quickly add up to many “orphaned” rods at TFO. We take great care of each one, but reuniting angler and rod doesn’t always go as smoothly as we’d like.
A related tragedy is when anglers don’t know that shipping companies have invented machines that survive by consuming unsuspecting fishing rods returned for warranty. Trust me, high-speed conveyor belts and fishing rods do not mix well. Last month a warranty rod arrived wrapped in cellophane with a shipping label stuck on it! It was not in good shape!! Always follow the warranty return instructions, and think defensively when shipping your fishing rod!
However, the above problems pale in comparison to a new reality – counterfeit and used rods sold as new. When we warranty a rod that was purchased “used” (and damaged) or replace a fake rod with a real TFO rod, the cost of warranty for every TFO angler goes up. We are deeply committed to the principles of fairness and minimized costs. Both of these principles are in jeopardy when anglers buy rods from folks other than our dealers and expect us to provide warranty service. While we will always go out of our way to help any angler, at the end of the day our loyalty will be to TFO anglers and the dealers that support them.
Lastly, a remark recently on our social media feed said, “if that’s the warranty program, then I’ll never need to buy another rod?” Exactly.