The phrase “limited lifetime warranty” is about as open to interpretation as “all you can eat.” Just ask one Consumerist reader who found that he was up a creek sans paddle because his Skullcandy headphones crapped out after he moved out of the country.
Two and a half years ago, Steve purchased a pair of Skullcandy headphones from the company’s U.S. website and enjoyed them up until recently, when one of the ear buds failed.
Since Steve had moved to Europe in the years since purchasing the headphones, he contacted Skullcandy’s EU warranty team to discuss how to use the lifetime warranty to get a replacement pair.
But for some reason, Skullcandy only offers a two-year warranty in the EU, so Steve was told he’d need to contact the U.S. warranty team.
However, his attempts to contact the U.S. folks only met with automated responses directing him to EU customer service. He eventually got someone from the U.S. on the phone, but Steve says she was as unhelpful as the robotic e-mail replies.
He even told the company, which continued to restate its policy of not shipping overseas, that he’d be back in the U.S. for a short time so if they expedited his warranty, he’d be in the country to receive it.
But Steve probably didn’t know that Skullcandy doesn’t exactly have a history of being fast with warranty replacements.
Consumerist contacted Skullcandy and, after a week (and several e-mails) finally got some sort of response.
Basically, the company requires a U.S. ship-to address. Meaning Steve needs to contact Skullcandy customer service and pretend he’s still in the States, provide them with someone else’s address and then have the replacement headphones shipped to him in Europe.
A Skullcandy rep explains that the company can not fulfill warranties to overseas customers — even the item was purchased in the U.S. — because then it would have to honor the warranty for anyone who purchased their headphones while visiting the States.
So be warned that, no matter how portable your purchase is, the manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty may be limited by national borders. This is definitely something to be mindful of if your job or education takes you overseas for longer periods of time.
We could find nothing in the actual Skullcandy warranty that specifies that you must be in the U.S. to get a warranty replacement.
The best we could locate on Skullcandy.com is a statement in the FAQ that reads:
Customers outside of the United States and Canada should note that NOT all warranty policies stated herein are consistent globally. Customers should contact the local distributor in their current country from the list at http://www.skullcandy.com/international for instructions specific to that country. This system will not work for international warranty requests.
This still doesn’t state anything about requiring a U.S. ship-to address to get your warranty replacement.
“I’m generally willing to pay a premium for a (at least perceived) better quality product with better quality service,” writes Steve. “But if this is the sort of post-sales support they offer, I think I’ll start buying
‘disposable’ cheap headphones again, at least I’ll know what I’m getting into when I’m buying a $5 drug store set.”