Over the years, carpet warranties have changed considerably, limiting their liability. In some cases, the manufacturer will: specify what type of cleaning is appropriate to maintain the warranty; require cleaning receipts to indicate when and how the carpet was cleaned; and need to know what type of technician cleaned the carpet.
Unfortunately, some carpet warranties are vague. Several are written in “legalese,” which makes them hard to understand. Others include a variety of conditions that must be met in order to meet the warranty, and often this information is in such small print that a magnifying glass is required to read it.
The most common type of carpet warranty is a “wear” warranty. Most carpeting used to be made of wool, which wears down with time resulting in bald spots or thinning. When nylon and other synthetic fibres were first introduced, manufacturers of these carpets often provided a wear warranty as a marketing tool. Customers were encouraged to select nylon over wool because it would wear longer.
Today, a wear warranty, which is often for five to 10 years, is often misunderstood. Some customers believe this type of warranty references a carpet’s appearance and covers any surface damage or wear from years of use. However, the manufacturer may have a much different meaning. Some wear warranties, for instance, might limit the amount of acceptable fibre or face weight of the carpet to loss over time.
Other warranties might reference crushing or flattening of the carpet over time. This can be a common problem in a building with, for example, long walkways. While the customer may believe a carpet has flattened excessively, the manufacturer may suggest that the warranty does not apply if the pile can be restored to a certain percentage of original pile height.
Probably the biggest complaint regarding carpeting relates to installation. If there are installation issues, the manufacturer will invariably refer the purchaser back to the retailer. If the retailer did not install the carpet but turned the work over to a subcontractor, then the retailer will refer the purchaser to the subcontractor.
To protect themselves, property and facility managers are advised to read and understand a carpet’s warranty before purchasing. If they do not, they should ask for clarification and for the retailer or distributor to put specific warranty details and requirements in writing.
Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor and now a writer for the professional cleaning and building industries. He can be reached at 773.525.3021.