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Full-size Binoculars

Warranties on Binoculars

January, 2000, BirdWatcher's Digest)

by Michael and Diane Porter

Michael Porter Diane Porter

Warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The commonest type is a "limited lifetime warranty" against defects in materials and workmanship. It does not cover damage due to accidents or abuse, and it covers only the original owner.

Howver, one hardly knows what to expect in warranty service, because manufacturers differ in the generosity with which they apply their policies. Most seem to go beyond what the warranty promises, at least occasionally. Some, in contradiction to their stated policy, may service a binocular for free even though it no longer belongs to the original owner, or even replace binoculars that have been run over by a car.

We took an informal survey via the internet of manufacturers' warranty performance. We asked birdwatchers to tell us about their experiences having binoculars repaired under warranty.

We got back over 50 stories, including 7 to 11 each for Bausch & Lomb, Leica, Nikon, Swarovski, and Zeiss. Patterns emerged. Swarovski dramatically stood out for shockingly good warranty performance on binoculars. Pentax also seemed to give excellent service, although we received few reports about them (not a bad sign, actually). Other companies for whom we got predominantly positive reports were Bausch & Lomb, Swift, Zeiss, and Leica.

If you feel you are unfairly turned down for warranty service on binoculars, it sometimes pays to argue your point, or to try to find a different representative to talk to at the company.

A word on gray market binoculars

Some manufacturers deny warranty service on binoculars imported from overseas. They're trying to protect their USA distribution systems by bringing unhappy-customer pressure to bear on dealers, so that dealers will buy stock through approved channels. For binoculars from manufacturers for whom gray market is an issue, it's important to get a USA warranty. Be cautious when purchasing binoculars for unusually low prices.

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