Horse barns - Is a Warranty really worth anything?

We are well into 2011. Some of the old barn competition remains, and there are some new faces. Some of the old standards, like MD and Barnmaster, are simply gone. Each company has their own unique perspective on the best way to build a barn. That is fine, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Besides, if their theory on how to construct things does not work out, they are the ones that have to warrant the concept anyway. Or do they? A warranty is only as good as the company that stands behind it. Even if a company is credible, if it’s not properly capitalized and goes out of business, your warranty goes with it. (Now would be a good time to mention that Castlebrook Barns is owned outright with no bank debt, thus further insulating our customers.) Economic downturns can certainly be a wildcard for any warranty’s longevity and in the best light could be considered a variable; however, the facts that are known to the company about their products are certainly not. Like all warranties, Castlebrook Barn’s has its basic boilerplate language and exclusions, but the heart of the warranty is pretty simple. “If defects appear during the warranty period, (Lifetime on all structural parts and welds) C.B. will, at its sole option and as customers exclusive remedy, repair or replace the defective product once returned to C.B.’s manufacturing facility , provided that C.B. receives written notice of the defect.” Pretty simple wouldn’t you say? We don’t get many warranty claims, but when we do, customer service is directed to notify me of each and every one. My theory is that if we have made a mistake, we must learn from it so that we can better ourselves for next time. We gladly repair the part and hopefully send a happy customer on their way. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers see that responsibility the same way. Some will actually pretend that their system is darn near bulletproof during the sales process only to hide behind their “warranty” when the thing starts falling apart. When I look at some of their warranties, I almost choke on the language that is inserted. I will quote from a typical metal barn warranty “Because XXX has no control over the matter; original purchaser agrees that any warping, separation or other surface damage or deterioration of any wall or door panels is not due to any defect in material or workmanship, and is not covered by this limited warranty.” What!? They have no control over the matter? They are the ones that built the darn thing! If they have no control, who does? Perhaps a better way of saying it would be “Because XXX is knowingly selling you a product that will fall apart….” I don’t know, is that just a little too honest? The fact of the matter is that this is the same type of company that will look you straight in the face and tell you that their barn “requires no maintenance.” Well, yeah, if the barn is basically disposable, like a bic lighter, I guess you would not maintain it. It does bring about a pesky problem of replacing it every few years though, doesn’t it? It is humorous to note that within these same metal wall barn systems they proudly note that their barns “require no maintenance.” Come on, that is just being disingenuous. All things require maintenance. So for a reality check, you must, once again, go back to their warranty which states “THE FOLLOWING ARE SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED FROM THE LIMITED WARRANTY- 1)Rust due to stall mats, bedding, or any other objects that can hold moisture up against walls and wall channels.” Ok, so I guess I am wrong; you can have a no maintenance barn, so long as you never treat it like a barn and shavings or darn near anything else never touches the walls. That gives me a great marketing idea! Castlebrook Barns never needs maintenance either, as long as you keep it in a box and never use it for its purpose. Of course, that concept is ridiculous. Again, all things require appropriate maintenance, including a Castlebrook. The difference is that we make it easy for you complete the maintenance whereas a metal wall system by design starts to degrade as soon as it is put in use. Because of the way metal barns are constructed, adequate maintenance is a nearly impossible task. The reality for these companies’ slogans is not so much “no maintenance,” but more like “can’t do maintenance.” That same warranty goes on further to state “XXX recommends that you NOT use wood product materials on the exterior of any building or the interior of a stall containing animals nor does XXX warrant such applications.” So their solution to being unable to produce a wood (or for that matter a metal) product that they can stand behind is to bash a true quality product like Castlebrook. I guess they live by a brand new slogan, “If you can’t beat ‘em, bad mouth ‘em.” So remember, just using the term “warranty” does not really mean that you have one. Prior to making your purchase, make sure you do your due diligence and insure that the company’s warranty truly protects you rather than simply being a sales gimmick. Perhaps the best warranty would be to start out with a structure that is so rugged that it never really needs to rely on a warranty. If that is your criteria, then welcome to Castlebrook! Thanks for spending some time with me, Spencer Graffam President, Castlebrook Barns

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