GORE-TEX advertises with the promise, GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™. Yeah, sure, every product has a guarantee. In Germany, in fact, a product is guaranteed by law for two years, so what’s with this guarantee from Gore? And this warranty, is it valid where I bought the product, I asked myself. Normally, a manufacturer takes care of customer service, whilst the retailer simply forwards it onward. Why is there this guarantee from Gore? I did a little research on this and stumbled across this background:
Where the GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™ promise comes from
When GORE-TEX products landed on the market in the early ‘80s, kicking off this “jacket revolution”, there were technical defects and returns started stacking up. The technical issues were resolved, but there were still two further problems: First, consumer trust had been damaged, i.e. Gore had promised waterproof and breathable apparel and the user still got wet. And, second, despite flawless materials, there were still leaks at certain areas, namely, at zippers, seams, and at areas with inappropriate workmanship. The product’s “growing pains” were then also resolved, but the market just didn’t believe in yet another new start. GORE-TEX products again disappeared from brand collections. In 1989, Gore dared another successful relaunch with really comprehensive measures in place to ensure the quality of the apparel, and kept the same customer promise that to this day remains nearly unchanged, GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™.
If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness, windproofness or breathability of your GORE-TEX product then we will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price.
To promise and to ensure that a feature performs, and then even to take on the guarantee for that is just fantastic. And this promise is offered by those who don’t even make the apparel, but just supply material for it. Then it became clear to me that this German law that guarantees a product is something totally different than a voluntary promise of a guarantee by a manufacturer. Because the legally required guarantee has its limitations. For example, what happens after two years, when it is expired. Or if the retailer where the product was bought isn’t nearby. Or even if the apparel brand isn’t in business anymore. Plenty of reasons for unsatisfied customers. And Gore wanted satisfied customers, thus it put this promise in place.
GORE-TEX piece leaking? The promise holds firm.
Recently a friend came to me and told me about his leaking ski pants. He had just bought the pants in Autumn 2015. For skiing, these pants were flawless, but later when he was hanging out at a slope side “Schirmbar” watering hole with awnings, his knees got wet. Snow had started to melt. This Schirmbar was full of people for happy hour and water was dripping from the edges of the awnings onto his pants where it found a way inside, he told me. “Bring me the pants”, I told him. And when I finally had the pants in hand I saw the GORE-TEX logo. Neither of us could see any damage or anything else of the sort. I advised him to take them back to the retailer for a return. “I bought them in Austria on opening day”, he responded. “Now, I have to go back to Austria just to make a return. That’s more trouble than it’s worth”. “Then return them directly to Gore”, I advised him. Ultimately, Gore makes the promise that a product is waterproof and stands by its guarantee. One phone call did the job: As soon as it was clear that taking care of this with the retailer wasn’t going to be so easy, a warranty claim case was opened. My friend received a return shipping label by email and could then return it directly to Gore customer service. He since got the pants back and they are all ready for the next use. Indeed, they did find leaks. No question was asked about the reason. The piece was professionally repaired and tested for leaks. My friend was very pleased.
So, how does that work?
“It’s really simple”, it says on the Gore website. “If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness, windproofness or breathability of your GORE-TEX product then we will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price. No matter which of our trusted customers makes the product, if it has the GORE-TEX brand label on it, we have certified that it’s durably waterproof, windproof and breathable performance meets the needs of its intended use. Fairness is one or the core principals of the GORE company. Our promise is one that allows for common sense solutions with a focus on product performance and building lasting relationships with our consumers”.