Promises and guarantees

Faith & Inspiration

I would hate to tell you what I paid for my vacuum cleaner. It was a few years ago and, first off, I shouldn’t have gone in alone. The only purchaser sillier than me was the octogenarian widow who forked out the extra bucks for a lifetime guarantee. I have never shared the secret of what I spent with anyone other than my mother. We both pretend it never happened.

My problem is I don’t ask the right questions. I should have said, “What do you mean, exactly, when you say free repairs and maintenance for the rest of my natural life?” But instead I just seized on the words “free” and “lifetime,” because they seemed to be the prominent terms in the promotion.

The first time I brought the machine in, my head held high with my VIP status, the man behind the counter handed me a bill. “It wasn’t a manufacturer’s defect,” he intoned flatly. The second time I brought it in, when my cord was frayed and looked like an electrocution waiting to happen, he said, “Hmm, did you run over it?” I said, “Yes.” He shook his head and told me, “Sorry, that’ll be $35 for a new cord. You’re not supposed to run over it.”

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Part of the free repair deal is that I have to bring my Extra Deluxe into the store annually for maintenance. I forgot to do that one year, possibly because my mother had a stroke, and I was at the hospital a lot, and my son was in trouble with the law, and my daughter left home, and my hair was falling out again.

So if you don’t bring your cleaner in for its yearly inspection, the deal is off. Funny, I would have thought they would like me more as a person for not bothering them every 12 months. Who likes to see someone walk through the door of their business who is going to cost them time and not make them any money? Personally, I even have trouble using gift cards at restaurants or at eyeglass retailers because it makes me feel bad that the poor employers are working for money that has already been spent.

I also learned that my expensive vacuum cleaner (about the price of my first car) is not covered for edge brushes or brush rolls. Nor does the warranty apply to damage or wear considered “abuse” or an “accident” or an “act of God.” Have I been abusive in using my heirloom suction gadget every week? That is a matter between a man and his Maker. I owned a greyhound once, and someone filled me in on abusive racetrack practices. If it is abusive to make a dog run more than every four days, where is the ethical line I should not cross when pushing my vacuum on its top setting?

I’m thinking: If I paid all that money just to cover myself for factory defects, why is it my problem if the manufacturercan’t back up its own craftsmanship?

All of which is another reason I’m glad I am a Christian: When it comes to the promises and guarantees of God, what a relief that I don’t have to use a magnifying glass to look for fine print and loopholes intended to give me the worst of the bargain.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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