Everybody Wants To Kill Opel's Lifetime Guarantee

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
everybody wants to kill opel s lifetime guarantee

Opel’s German dealer association left the Zentralverband des Kraftfahrzeuggewerbes (ZDK) in a huff, says Automobilwoche [sub] First, what’s a ZDK? It’s Germany’s umbrella organization of the car business. You need to be an industry organization to be a member. Next to the manufacturer organization VDA, the ZDK is the most powerful lobbying group of the car business. And what made the Opel dealers to hand in their membership cards and leave?

ZDK President Robert “Robby” Rademacher had strong words for Opel’s Lifetime Guarantee: “If the Wettbewerbszentrale would not have taken the case, the ZDK would have taken Opel to court.”

The German consumer group Wettbewerbszentrale has taken Opel to task, “because contrary to the grandiose statement made, Opel is not actually offering a ‘lifetime’ guarantee.” The Wettbewerbszentrale asked Opel to stop the campaign, or get sued, wrote Focus.

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  • Patrickj Patrickj on Sep 06, 2010

    The objection is valid. Claiming a lifetime guarantee on something as complex as a car is inherently fraudulent because any warranty comprehensive enough to be worthy of the name would cost multiple times the original cost of the car. Think of it as a 25 year warranty, as this would be about the length of time the average person would probably be willing to use a meticulously kept car as a daily driver. Could Opel really afford to replace headliners and re-pad and reupholster drivers seats on 15 year old cars, fund an engine rebuild and a couple of new transmissions and radiators, and the multitude of common wear parts that would fail in 25 years? Keeping the parts in production alone would be ruinous. Any such warranty would have to have more holes than a tractor-trailer full of sponges.

    • See 1 previous
    • D002 D002 on Sep 07, 2010

      All of those things you mention are consumables, and have never been covered by a warranty. Neither is the service charge, so an extended warranty isn't worth the paper its printed on - why do you think salesman are so keen to sell them ? If you read the advertisement above, you'll see that Opels are guaranteed for 160 000 km, which is an "official lifetime" (the figure given for the lifetime of a company car by the German tax office). BTW, the author doesn't mention the ZDK's nationalism - Opel, after all, is an American company. A court in Australia found in the 1980s that "lifetime guarrantee" meant that it was guaranteed to last its lifetime. In other words, its meaningless.

  • Charly Charly on Sep 06, 2010

    25 years for a car is a bit long. 16 is more realistic for the economy life of a car

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Sep 06, 2010

    "Lifetime" means different things to different people. Back in the '80s, when the St.Louis Cardinals won the World Series, the 86-year-old owner of the team, August Busch III, came down to the clubhouse and told the manager, Whitey Herzog, "I'm giving you a lifetime contract." Whitey looked at the old man and asked, "Whose lifetime - yours or mine?"

  • Tricky Dicky Tricky Dicky on Sep 07, 2010

    @d002 "BTW, the author doesn’t mention the ZDK’s nationalism – Opel, after all, is an American company." I think you'll find in Germany that public sentiment runs along the lines that Opel is a German company which suffers from incessant interference coming from GM, an American company. Nationalism is not a factor in the ZDK's resistance to the "lifetime warranty" claim. The claim is contentious because it does not mean anything like what most people would understand by that term, so it is inherently unfair to claim to be offering it. That's all. My suspicion is that this advertising claim smacks of the over-exaggerated, over-promising, consumer-patronising marketing gimmicks that have often been deployed by GM in the past. I bet there would have been loads of people in Opel and Vauxhall who would have howled in protest at this campaign. Interestingly, in the UK, the advertisments now state "a warranty that COULD last a lifetime". Which is more honest, but still weak and snivelly. They could have said something like, "Opel, we are so proud of the quality of our vehicles that we are willing to offer a warranty that lasts longer than any other automaker in Europe!". No BS, nothing to be embarassed about, a valid and impressive claim that would not be contested.