24 forum posts
I have frequently heard the term "Life-time" used in regard to Gore's warranty, but it is a bit of a misnomer. You will not find "Life-time" in any of Gore's official literature, nor on their website. I will also note that in my recent discussions (phone/email) with Gore they never used that phrase. With that in mind, what follows are my experiences in regard to Gore's warranty and “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise.
I've recently had both positive and negative Gore-tex warranty claims. Positive when dealing directly with the manufacturer of the garment, but not quite as satisfying when dealing with W. L. Gore Associates, maker of Gore-tex membrane.
In August I returned two Gore-tex garments (parka and pants) manufactured in 1979 to Marmot Mountain Works. That date is not a misprint. Both garments were 30 years-old! Marmot actually notified me of the manufacturing date. I couldn't remember. Marmot actually cited Gore's 'Life-time warranty', and replaced both these pieces with items of comparable value. Two thumbs-up to Marmot.
'Inspired' by Marmot's actions and comments here, I also attempted to file a warranty claim directly with Gore on a 1980's Yak Works Gore-tex cycling jacket, but there were some details of Gore's “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise" that I was unaware of. As most of you know, the devil can be in the small print and that's if you can find said small print.
I was told by Gore Customer Service that the “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise does not apply to garments made before 1990. Why? Gore explained that they had no guarantee in place prior to 1990, hence the claim on my Yak Works cycling jacket was denied.
FWIW, Yak Works is no longer in business, which is why I contacted Gore directly. The jacket in question still looks relatively new, is not damaged, and has been well cared for, per the instructions on the Gore-tex tag. However the jacket no longer retains any waterproof properties. Note: Gore does not dispute the condition of this garment, the fact that it is no longer waterproof or how I have cared for it. At issue was the garment's date of manufacturer (i.e. prior to 1990).
The Gore rep also stated that for Gore-tex garments manufactured from 1990 - Present their guarantee does not cover garments that are 'worn-out' or past their 'useful life'. Damaged, ripped or torn, garments are also not covered by the guarantee, which makes obvious sense. You will not find 'worn-out' or 'useful life' mentioned in Gore's “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” promise". Furthermore these phrases do not appear in any official Gore's literature or on their warranty page, so I asked Gore Customer Service to please provide documentation that explains these phrases (see below). Based on my understanding the terms being 'worn-out' or 'past useful life' are subject to Gore's interpretation.
My hat is off to Marmot for their customer service. Based on comments made by Gore, Marmot apparently went above and beyond what is required of them.
In Gore's case I can't complain too stridently, but I also could not find the niggling details behind their warranty coverage even with my best efforts.
When I asked the Gore Customer Service rep for written documentation stating their position on pre-verus-post 1990 Gore-tex garments, or explaining the terms 'worn-out' and 'useful life' the discussion became a bit more lively. I actually had to requested the written details of Gore's official guarantee policy three times. One would expect they had this information on hand, if for nothing more than guidance.
The rep's response to my initial inquiry was: "I just explained that" (i.e. our policy).
I replied: "Well what you have told me is not documented in any of Gore's literature nor on your website. I would like to see it in writing."
Rep repeated: "I just told you our policy, why do you need it in writing?"
My reply:: "I believe I just answered your question. I also I frequent several on-line boards that discuss gear and clothing. Gore's 'Life-time' warranty has been repeatedly cited as a benefit of the fabric, but I believe participants will be interested in some of the specifics of Gore's warranty."
There was a very long pregnant pause, and then the rep replied curtly: "We will get that out to you."
About 5 minutes later I received this via email from the same Gore rep: "I pulled your email to front and center and have forwarded it to our Team for review."
Huh? I had to ask for clarification, because my requests for written information in regard to Gore's guarantee had been to him over the phone, not via email, so I wasn't quite
sure what he was forwarding to the Team for review.
Rep's response: "Yes, You will receive a response tomorrow" (i.e. 11/10/09).
Well yesterday (11/10/09) came and went without the promised information from W.L. Gore Associates. I will not bother to ask for this information a fourth time. Perhaps someone else can dig it up?
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I am a 30+ year user of Gore-tex fabric in several dozen items including clothing, sleeping bags and tents. Obviously I have used some of the first Gore-tex fabrics brought to market.
By and large I have been pleased with the performance of items made from Gore-tex, but as stated above nothing lasts forever or a "Life-time" for that matter. Warranties/guarantees are only as good as those who stand behind them and in this case specifics documenting the warranty/guarantee were not easily obtained.
As others have pointed out items made from Gore-tex are not inexpensive and I believe it can be assumed that the price of Gore-tex is reflected in their warranty coverage. Is the extra cost worth it? I guess it depends on your usage, actual performance of the garment, and what one might expect out of the warranty. It is the only material I would currently use in a drysuit, but then I have seen how well Kokatat backs it's products. Potential buyers should be aware that Gore-tex is not a miracle fabric or is it 'bulletproof'.
I should note that I have one eVent garment, a jacket, but I have not used it long enough to comment on it's durability. I can state that the manufacturer of that jacket, Pearl Izumi is no longer using eVent, so draw your own conclusions.
In closing I am perturbed that W.L Gore Associates is not more forthcoming in regard to the details behind their stated "Guaranteed to Keep You Dry promise", because obviously those details are important.
Of course, ymmv.
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