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The Importance of Equipment Warranties and Liabilities

Written by  Ellie Malmin
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Business owners rely on the professional equipment they purchase to work efficiently and deliver quality performance. In a perfect world, equipment would work well and never break down or malfunction. Unfortunately, this is not the case! Business owners understand that there are times when equipment may malfunction or quit working properly. This scenario is when warranties come into play and why they are so important.

When a warranty comes with a purchase, it means that the manufacturer will cover the cost of 100 percent of repairs from the date of purchase. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act regulates all consumer products costing $15 or more. By law, the manufacturer must indicate whether the warranty provides full or limited coverage of repairs.

WARRANTY INFORMATION
With a full warranty, basic information should include explanation of warranty coverage and what is not covered. It should answer all questions regarding what is included in the event of a malfunction or a defect.

Equipment owners should keep in mind that all parts may not be covered. They should be sure to ask questions and make certain they fully understand what is covered under their warranty before they finalize a purchase. The basic information should also include how long the coverage lasts; whether the owner is required to submit a warranty card with receipt, date, and place of purchase; and whether or not the warranty is transferable if the owner decides to sell the equipment.

If the equipment owner encounters a problem, the basic information of a full warranty should cover all options, including repairing, replacing, or refunding the purchase price. The basic information should detail whether the warranty covers the cost of labor for repairs, if compensation is given to the owner for revenue lost due to the equipment malfunction, and if the company offers a loaner while the business' machine is being repaired. Other pertinent information includes whether or not the owner is responsible for the cost of shipment of the loaner to and from their facility, whether or not service repairs are performed at the business or off-site, and shipping costs and who pays for shipping costs for off-site repairs. Equipment owners should ensure that this basic information is answered before they finalize their purchase.

The owner's policy should include the company name, address, and phone number and the warranty information should include the owner's warranty rights, which may vary from state to state.

Most manufacturers carry a one-year warranty, while others offer warranties that may cover up to three years. It is important to thoroughly read and understand what is covered within the warranty offered. It is the owner's responsibility and something they should take seriously. After all, equipment breakdowns can be costly, therefore, they need to be informed ahead of time so they understand their rights as it relates to their warranty.

HANDLING EQUIPMENT BREAKDOWN

There are many questions to consider before making a purchase. If a piece of equipment breaks, does the manufacturer supply the business with a loaned replacement piece of equipment? If it has to be shipped to the business, who pays for the new piece of equipment to be shipped? Who is responsible for shipping the equipment back? Is there a clause that states that the business is liable if a loaner is shipped and damaged during shipping? If equipment cannot be shipped, do they send a repair person to the business? If the business' equipment is down and the owner cannot perform services or they are handicapped to perform services, is there special consideration? If so, what exactly are they? There are many questions to consider before making a purchase. Often, an extended warranty is offered. If companies have this option, owners would be wise to understand, in great detail, what it covers.

It is also important to read the user guide carefully. If anyone working with the product or machine neglects to follow instructions within the guide, the manufacturer can claim user neglect. This assertion would likely result in the owner's claim being denied due to failure to properly follow the company's instructions.

Example: A facial steamer user guide could suggest, or even recommend, that the professional use distilled water. If that recommendation is ignored and the professional uses tap water, the metal coil can become corroded or there could be a mineral buildup, causing the steamer to not perform. The company will be able to detect that tap water was used, therefore, voiding the warranty.

A limited warranty must include a standard disclosure of its limits and duration of the implied warranty.
Implied warranties are unspoken and unwritten promises from the seller to the business owner that it does what it is supposed to do. There are two types of implied warranties: an implied warranty of merchantability and implied warranty of fitness.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability – the equipment sold will do what it is intended to do. For example, a facial steamer, when plugged in and turned on, will emit steam.

Implied Warranty of Fitness – if a seller knows of a particular purpose for which some item is being purchased by the buyer, the seller is guaranteeing that the item is fit for that particular purpose. For example, the jar of the steamer is meant to hold 16 ounces of water and to steam all but the last two ounces of water before it shuts off, requiring a refill. However, in the case that the steamer shuts off after only steaming two of the 16 ounces, the warranty of fitness is breached.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIABILITY INSURANCEpic1

Medical devices fall into a special category when covered under insurance. They will either be listed as a Class I, Class II, or Class III. Business owners should look at the insurer's proven track record as some insurance underwriters do not know the difference between the specified categories.

In the skin care industry, professionals use equipment and products on a daily basis. It is important that skin care professionals carry their own individual liability insurance, even if they work for someone and are covered under that business' policy. Professionals need to know their limitations and whether a treatment or product does or does not suit a client. In the event that the administered treatment or product causes harm, the professional is open to a lawsuit. Going without insurance is as careless as laying out in the sun for hours without a sunscreen – professionals will get burned and it will cost them dearly! Professionals should take measures to protect themselves and make an appointment for a consultation with an insurance broker. Having a consultation will prove beneficial in many ways. The broker will thoroughly assess the skin care professional's needs and will provide them with various options of protection. Several associations have insurance policies that professionals can buy into. Always read the small print to ensure that there is no exclusion to services performed. Here are two examples of what can happen to a professional that does not have insurance.

tabletA skin care professional was applying eyelash extensions on a client who came in wearing waterproof mascara that the professional struggled to remove. While removing it, the professional did not notice that a small bit of left over mascara fell into the client's eye. As the professional was applying the eyelashes, the client complained half-way through the procedure that her eye felt itchy. The professional removed the under-eye pads and had the client open her eye. At first it looked normal, then the professional saw the bit of mascara that had dropped into the client's eye. The professional only had cotton swabs and water, she did not have eye wash accessible. The client asked for a mirror, saying she could get it out. With that, the client took the mirror, put her finger in her eye and took the fleck of mascara right out. The client said her eye felt much better and the professional proceeded to apply the extensions and completed the service.

The client's eyelashes and eyes looked beautiful. Three days later, the client called the professional from the hospital emergency room because her eye was swollen shut! She had severe acute bacterial conjunctivitis; she wanted to sue the professional and the professional had no insurance! It cost the professional $6,000 to make the client happy, but she learned a valuable lesson. Always carry insurance!

Now, when this particular professional is doing eyelash extensions, she wears gloves to clean the eye properly, does not allow her clients to touch their eyes with their fingers, and carries eye wash with her at all times. Such small changes have made a big difference in avoiding a similar situation.

Another incident happened to a massage therapist working in a large salon and spa. At this spa, the massage tables were manually adjustable. The massage therapist greeted the client, then asked that he get on the massage table and lay face up. She then exited the room while the client took off his robe and got under the sheets. As she closed the door while leaving, she heard a loud crash. She immediately entered the room to see the client on the floor and one of the table legs collapsed! The man sued the business, the massage table company, and the massage therapist. The business' insurance company inspected everything and asked the massage therapist whether she had checked the bolts of the legs on the massage table before instructing her client to lay down on the massage table. She had not. The massage table company's insurance had the massage table inspected. The result was that the table was sturdy and in great condition. The massage therapist was found guilty of negligence and they sued her for $100,000 and won. Sadly, she had no insurance.

The type of insurance the skin care professional will need to carry will depend on what services he or she performs and what licenses he or she holds. For licensed individuals, there is professional liability known as malpractice and general liability, which can be purchased through various personal national associations. General liability protects professionals from various things, such as slips and falls.

Malpractice will protect the professional, as well as the business, from expenses and losses due to claims
magnifying-glassrelated to mistakes and errors. When considering insurance policies, be sure to read the fine print and any exclusions that may be listed. If the professional works in several places, make sure they are all listed.
Where does the liability fall when a product the professional is working with causes an allergic reaction and scarring? Some of the first questions the product manufacturer or company might ask would be:

Was the entire service performed using only our product(s)?
Was an intake form completed?
Was our product protocol followed correctly?
Was the professional trained by our instructor?
Could the products have been cross-contaminated by the professional?

The answers to all of these questions will be scrutinized by the product company. Professionals must go with their instincts. If, for whatever reason, they do not feel the service is warranted or the client is not a suitable candidate for the service, they should not be afraid to speak honestly and address their concern. Denying service when there are serious reservations is not only smart, but responsible. Professionals must also be prepared to explain their concerns to the client.

claim-formThe insurance company defines its terms involving medical devices, as it relates to the establishment and the technician, by these specific categories: personal injury, suit, occurrence, medical payments to others, bodily injury, business, insured location, professional services, and property damage.

Professionals should be sure they are aware of the protection the policy gives them. Their policy coverage and limits will disclose what the insurer covers and for how much. Professionals should ask whether or not the policy covers them personally and for how much: during arbitration, for loss or damage to the personal property of others, for damage to employee's property, for loss of earnings, and for any other expenses incurred while helping the company investigate or defend claims.

Lastly, and most importantly, business owners should do their research with regards to warranties and insurance, be informed and know their coverage, and be protected – carry insurance!

Ellie-Malmin-2017Founder of Lash Brow Makeup Academy, Ellie Malmin is celebrating her 40th year in the beauty industry. She is a co-founder of Anushka Spa, Salon & Cosmedical Center in West Palm Beach. Malmin has written several training manuals for leading brands and developed training programs for numerous beauty companies. She travels the country as a public speaker. Her newest co-venture is an online continuing education course on eye and eyelash conditions and diseases. Malmin is releasing her product line, Lashologist Choice™. lashbrowmakeup-academy.com, lashologistchoice.com, or eyeandlashhealthinstitute.com

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