How To Handle The Warranty and Returns Process
When making purchases online it can be intimidating to commit before seeing the item in person. It is equally challenging to understand what responsibilities you have as a customer and what policies are in place to protect you.
At the eFireplacestore, we always strive to uphold an excellent level of customer service. We do our best to ensure each customer knows exactly what they are buying before they buy it. Though, we also understand our business model of being a retailer and not a manufacturer tends to confuse people when there is an issue that needs resolving.
- making a decision
So, we set out to create this article to walk you through the warranty and returns policies we have in place should you receive the wrong item, a defective item or have an issue with the delivery service.
Table Of Contents
- Custom Fabricated Items / Fuel Burning Appliances
- Back Ordered or Items Not Shipped Yet
- Items that May Be Covered Under Carrier or Warranty Claims:
- Damaged Items
- Defective or Malfunctioning Items
- Missing Items
While there are many resolutions that are situation-specific there are a few general rules that apply to nearly all situations. It's helpful to understand these guidelines so you have the correct expectations about what the manufacturer of your product will do to resolve the issue and what eFireplacestore is responsible for.
For fireplaces, stoves, heaters and other large appliance assemblies, warranty procedure says you must troubleshoot to determine if a part failed before a replacement part will be issued. Manufacturers will not send replacement parts without troubleshooting, nor will they ship a complete replacement unit unless deemed necessary.
For a warranty claim to be filed, it is necessary for us to collect the model and serial number of the unit, where applicable.
No exceptions can be made on fulfilling warranty replacement parts once the warranty period has expired.
We have a dedicated warranty staff and reporting system which allows the quickest possible processing of your warranty claim. Once a claim has been filed, there is no further action needed to have the claim processed.
Warranty parts often have to be sourced and shipped direct from the manufacturer and so lead times are entirely dependent on their stock.
- shelves stocked
No items can be returned without first obtaining a return authorization number. This number allows us to properly track and record the return, ensuring credit is issued promptly.
An official return address will be supplied with the return authorization number. Only return to this address, as manufacturer or supplier addresses found online are likely to differ.
We cannot deviate from the return period dictated by the suppliers or manufacturers for normal returns.
Products that are found to be defective during the warranty troubleshooting process may be deemed not necessary to return, allowing us to issue credit without a return authorization or return shipping of the product.
Restocking fees are charged by the suppliers and manufacturers on an individual basis. We do not have control over these fee percentages.
Does My Item Qualify For A Return?
Standard store returns are dependent on a returned item being able to be resold as new. Anything that makes an item unsuitable for resale as new disqualifies its eligibility for a standard store return. Damaged items or items with mechanical or electrical defects, no matter the cause, are not eligible for standard store returns.
No Longer Desired Items:
The standard store return policy covers situations where a customer has mistakenly ordered something different from what they need or want. If a customer orders a rug, but then realizes the color doesn't match their home decor how they hoped, a standard store return is the remedy.
- Minuteman Hospitality Hearth Rug
Most unused merchandise in original condition and in original packaging may be returned for a refund within 30 days of the order date. The returned item must be in the original box with all paperwork. The item must be unused and "unopened."
How To Complete A Return:
Customers must request authorizations for returns by completing the Online Returns Form. eFireplaceStore will process return requests by coordinating a Return Merchandise Authorization from the appropriate manufacturer or supplier warehouse, and then provide the customer the RMA number, return address, and any other relevant instructions. Obtaining an RMA may take several business days. Unauthorized return shipments are blindly refused and returned to the sender.
Another important thing to be aware of is the cost of shipping and potential return fees. eFireplacestore prides itself on providing excellent customer service, which is why we offer free shipping to most customers that spend over $100. As you know, the cost of shipping is constantly increasing so this gift is not something we can not apply to all situations at all times.
- shipping container
The cost eFireplaceStore pays for outbound shipping and a restocking fee are deducted from refunds for standard store returns. The burden of the return shipping cost also falls to the customer. Credit is only issued once a returned item is received, processed, and confirmed in good condition by the supplying warehouse.
Returns received in damaged or in other-than-resalable condition are NOT eligible for return credits. So, customers are encouraged to protect their return shipments against transit damage by insuring them with their chosen carrier. Warehouses may opt to process returns in batches, so return credits may not be issued until several weeks after the return.
If I Can't Return It What Do I Do?
Fuel Burning Appliances:
Fuel-burning appliances (such as gas logs, gas stoves, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, fireplace inserts, chimeneas, fire pits) or any of their parts or accessories that come into contact with fuel, flame, or combustion byproducts are not eligible for standard store return at any time for any reason. This is a liability issue and eFireplaceStore is not responsible for any items once they have been installed, connected to fuel, or burned.
- Empire 42 Inch Direct Vent Fireplace
Items Back-Ordered Or Not Shipped Yet:
Both of these situations do not fall under a reason to file a warranty claim or return. Because they have not been shipped, they do not qualify as missing or damaged. They represent an order pending fulfillment. Order fulfillment is managed by the Order Processing Team.
Items That May Be Covered Under Warranty Or Carrier Claim:
a) Damaged Items
Items arriving damaged to the customer and are noticeably damaged upon inspection are not eligible for return. Instead, these situations are remedied through a carrier claim process or a manufacturer warranty claim process. eFireplaceStore is happy to file such claims on the customer's behalf when appropriate.
If you sign a delivery receipt and do not note any damage, that certifies the delivery was received in good condition. This paper trail cannot be undone or revised or altered later. eFireplaceStore will not be able to win a claim against a freight carrier on your behalf if they have "evidence" stating they did their job correctly. Also, eFireplaceStore is not responsible for damaged items reported but not noted on freight shipment delivery receipts.
Unfortunately, not all freight delivery carriers are patient. No matter the situation, the customer has a right to fully inspect the freight shipment for damaged or missing items. The freight carrier cannot force a signature for uninspected goods and we highly encourage all customers to fully inspect their shipments by removing any protective wrapping or cardboard that may be concealing damaged or missing items. Only once a full inspection is completed should the freight bill be signed appropriately.
Damaged Parcel Shipments
Parcels are small packages that are delivered without requiring a signature or delivery appointment. Customers are responsible for monitoring the shipping tracking provided for their orders. Parcel shipments must have their contents inspected and damage reported within 3 business days of their receipt. eFireplaceStore is not responsible for damaged items reported outside this window as the odds of recipient error or interference from an outside party increase with time.
- damaged package
Customers may request either monetary credit or physical replacement for damaged items by completing the online Warranty Form and selecting damage. Photos of the damage are always required for parcel damage claims. Upon receipt and review of a claim request submission, eFireplaceStore then processes a carrier claim or manufacturer product warranty claim on the customer's behalf as appropriate.
Approval or denial of a carrier or manufacturer product claim is the decision of the respective carrier or manufacturer. Customers will need to hold onto the purchased items until otherwise directed. Unauthorized return shipments are refused and returned to the sender. Unauthorized returns will not trigger monetary credits. Refer back to the returns section of this article for information on the returns process.
Damaged Freight Shipments
Freight shipments involve larger items that are usually only delivered by appointment. They must have their contents inspected immediately upon delivery. Damage must be recorded on the delivery receipt.
Shipments with clear, visible product (not packaging) damage without unwrapping the item, may be refused before they are unloaded from delivery vehicles. Customers refusing undamaged shipments may be liable for return freight or re-delivery fees.
Once unloaded from a vehicle a shipment is considered "received." Customers are strongly encouraged to unwrap their freight shipments when received and to make notes of damage on their delivery receipts before signing them.
- Photo from : https://www.redwoodlogistics.com/insights
Again, when you sign the delivery receipt that certifies the "noted condition" of the item at delivery. Signatures provided on delivery receipts with no written notes of damage certify that the deliveries were received in good condition. eFireplaceStore is not responsible for damaged items reported but not noted on freight shipment delivery receipts.
Customers may request either monetary credit or physical replacement for damaged items by completing the Warranty Form and selecting Damage. Photos of noted damage are always required for freight damage claims. Upon receipt and review of a claim request submission, eFireplaceStore then processes a carrier claim on the customer's behalf. Approval or denial of a carrier claim is the decision of the respective carrier.
Claims for "concealed damage" not noted at the time of delivery may be filed against a carrier directly by the customer, but have extremely low approval odds when filed by eFireplaceStore. Thus, eFireplaceStore has the right to refuse to file such claims. Customers will need to hold onto received items until otherwise directed. Unauthorized return shipments are refused and returned to the sender. Unauthorized returns will not trigger monetary credits.
b) Defective Or Malfunctioning Items
Defective items with mechanical or electrical defects, no matter the cause, are not eligible for standard store returns. Instead, these situations are remedied through a carrier claim process or a manufacturer warranty claim process. eFireplaceStore is happy to file these claims on the customer's behalf if necessary.
Most hearth industry warranties cover replacement of affected or failed parts rather than complete appliance replacement. Product warranties do not cover defects produced by improper installation or inappropriate use. eFireplaceStore cannot amend or alter the coverage for parts and/or labor provided by a manufacturer's product warranty. eFireplaceStore is not a provider of on-site field services of any kind and does not dispatch technicians for installation, diagnostic, repair, or maintenance service.
- Photo from: https://www.mychimney.com/uncategorized/chimney-draft-problems/
Photos clearly showing the context or details of an installation may be required for review of appliance accessory warranty claims. Serial numbers are always required for appliance warranty claims. Warranty claims for hearth appliances (fireplaces, stoves, inserts, and gas log sets) and certain outdoor fire features must have standard diagnostic information included.
eFireplaceStore's specialists will make reasonable attempts to assist people doing their own troubleshooting in an attempt to provide standard diagnostic information for defective items.
Reasonable assistance in these cases, however, must be limited to assistance that does not require prior training, as this training cannot be provided remotely. Also, eFireplaceStore is an online appliance dealer and not an eLearning service provider. We recommend using the National Fireplace Institute (NFI) for these activities. Filing warranty claims should not be abused as a source of appliance installation, diagnostic, or repair training.
Customers may request either monetary credit or physical replacement for defective items by completing the online Warranty Form and selecting Defect.
In the case of replacements, the decision of component or complete item replacement rests with the manufacturer.
Items tested by the manufacturer but not found defective or faulty may be returned to the customer in the same condition as they were sent. Claims denied by a manufacturer will not be credited by eFireplaceStore.
c) Missing Items
Though it may seem odd, you will need to submit photos for the claims process of missing items. The photos should show: the box the item was shipped in, the item label on the box, and the box's contents. You'll want to be sure the photos clearly show everything that was included in the box as well as any boxes that show up empty.
Missing Parcel Shipments
Parcels with tracking that indicates a completed delivery but have not been received by the customer may be covered by a carrier lost in transit claim. Customers are advised to check that missing parcels with delivered tracking status have not been received by neighbors before filing a claim. Missing parcels shipments must be reported within 3 business days of the delivery date indicated on the shipping tracking. eFireplaceStore is not responsible for missing parcels reported outside this window.
- missing items from box
Customers may request either monetary credit or physical replacement for missing parcels by completing the online Warranty Form and selecting Missing. Upon receipt and review of a claim request submission, eFireplaceStore then processes a lost in transit investigation request with the carrier on the customer's behalf.
Carriers require an 8-10 business day allowance to complete their investigations. If a carrier is unable to find and deliver the parcel to a customer within that time frame, the carrier will notify eFireplaceStore who, at that time, will process the customer's chosen reimbursement request. Approval or denial of a carrier lost in transit claim is the decision of the respective carrier.
Missing Freight Pieces
When it comes to freight shipments, customers are responsible for monitoring the shipping tracking provided for their orders. You should receive a phone call to schedule the delivery appointment ahead of time. Freight shipments must have their contents inspected immediately upon delivery. Missing freight pieces, or shortages, must be recorded on the delivery receipt.
- delivery form
Shipment delivery receipts will indicate the number of large "pieces" contained on each pallet in the freight shipment. Once unloaded from a vehicle a shipment is considered "received."
Customers are encouraged to unwrap their freight shipments once received and make notes of missing freight pieces on their delivery receipts before signing them.
Freight pieces are only the packages listed on the delivery receipt, not individual package contents. As stated before, the signature provided on the delivery receipt certifies the "noted condition" of the items at delivery. Signatures provided on delivery receipts with no written notes of shortages certify that the deliveries were received in good condition and with no missing freight pieces.
eFireplaceStore is not responsible for missing freight pieces reported but not noted on freight shipment delivery receipts.
Tips To Avoid Complications In Warranty Claims or Returns
There are a lot of ways owning a fireplace or fire pit is like owning a car. They are both large purchases that require a good deal of research and time investment upfront. In both cases, it's best to find out what you are responsible for in case of damage, defect, etc before you purchase. You won't be able to negotiate or dictate warranty or service terms after the sale (or ever.)
However, the warranty that lays out those terms is available for review before you make your decision. And, just like owning a car, you should budget for professional maintenance and repairs, even if you usually do home repairs yourself.
The most common cause of appliance failure or malfunction is an installation error. Mistakes are inevitable and even professionals make them. The biggest mistake some non-specialized professionals can make is assuming the hearth appliance they're servicing follows the same guidelines as every other appliance they work with.
- certified technician
For example, the HVAC industry and the hearth industry are notorious for having mostly similar, but sometimes nearly opposite ways for wiring and power. This can lead to your appliance being installed improperly even though the professional is "sure" it's right. Again the result is delayed or denied claims, or even multiple service calls to replace parts that do not resolve the issue.
To avoid this nightmare, ask your technician if he is familiar with the specific control system on your appliance -- eFireplaceStore is happy to assist in identifying system component names and models. If he isn't, insist he follows the installation manual closely rather than relying completely on previous experience.
The installer may resist someone closely watching him do his job. Though, it is better to have a bit of awkwardness during installation as opposed to an irredeemable situation that costs you hundreds of dollars.
We know we have poured a ton of information into this article. Our hope is that, although it may be overwhelming at first, you will take advantage of this guide being here. There is no way for you to remember everything written here today. So, refer back to this at any time you need to and use this guide to simplify matters as you walk through the returns and warranty process.
As always, please call us at 800.203.1642 if you have any questions.