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Rockler's Unconditional Guarantee

GregoryPaolini's picture

Just wanted to pick some people's brains out there.

Rockler woodworking markets their woodworking bits as "Guaranteed Unconditionally".  A great marketing concept, and the main reason I own dozens, if not a hundred various rockler bits.

Over the years, I've managed to break, dull, and wear out several of their bits, all of which I purchased mainly because of the "Unconditional Guarantee".  The problem is, every time I try to return the bits, I'm generally met with resistance, and some "Conditions" I was not aware of.

I've spoken with Rockler Corp, and their exact comment was "Unconditional Means Unconditional".  Apparently that message hasn't made it to the Retail stores I've been to...

What are your experiences?


Gregory Paolini

Private & Small Group Woodworking Classes in the Great Smokey Mountains

rdasilva's picture

(post #102241, reply #1 of 23)

I'm not familiar with Rockler's guarantee, but it reminds me of the old Sears Craftsman guarantee. Years ago, my father brought back completely mangled tools to Sears and was always handed a new item with no questions asked. It kept my father a loyal customer until Sears modified the Craftsman guarantee with 'exceptions' for certain products.

I'm sure Rockler is trying to engender that type of loyalty. I don't know... are Rockler retail stores company owned or are they franchises? Franchises are sometimes crotchety about corporate programs like these because they are made to jump through a lot of hoops and paperwork to get credit for returned stock.

Either way, the next time you go in to return an "Unconditionally Guaranteed" bit and are met with resistance, you should just pick up your cell phone and call Rockler corporate. Hand the phone over and let them explain it to the retail salesperson.

Edited 10/15/2008 1:20 pm ET by rdasilva

heartwould's picture

(post #102241, reply #2 of 23)

The staff at the Rockler store in my area are very quick to say, "Is that in the catalog?  We don't have everything that they have in the catalog."  Overall, I have been unimpressed with their lack of helpfulness, but I still own a number of Rockler items.

A comparison was made to the old Craftsman unconditional guarantee.  My best story with them was several years ago when I broke the wooden handle off of a spade while trying to dig in some hardpan.  I was none too happy until I noticed that the broken handle had "Craftsman" stamped on it.  Off I went to the local Sear store where the salesperson told me that my particular model of spade had been discontinued, so I was given an "upgrade."  That spade still lives in my garage.

GregoryPaolini's picture

(post #102241, reply #4 of 23)

Heartwould:  With regards to the spade handle breaking: I expect models to change, and while the store no longer caried the spade you broke, they did replace it with a comparable one, which was in production.  In my opinion, they made good on their promise, especially considering the circumstances.

RW: You brought up some great points, which I want to address - So please don't think I'm ranting against you with my responses.   Reflecting on the router bits, it's important for me to point out that my return policy experiences are not with rockler retail partners, but with actual retail stores in two seperate states, which I've been told are company owned stores, not even franchises.

Although I have to disagree with your definition of "Unconditional".  Unconditional, in most dictionaries is defined as "not limited by conditions; absolute: an unconditional promise".  By the nature of the definition, an unconditional gaurantee is one without conditions.  "Well, you wore it out" is a condition, as is "You chipped it", or "You hit a nail with it" or "Bearings arn't covered".  It's also important for me to point out that an Unconditional Gaurantee is very different from a "Limited Warranty", or "Warranty against defects", or even "Quality Gauranteed".

My own communications with Rockler Corp is where I was told by a company representitive that "UNconditional means Unconditional".  And while another poster mentioned the Sears/craftsman guarantee, I must also bring up how the representitive from Rockler brought up that same analogy, with a story of her father returning tools to sears, and getting replacments without question.

My entire point of view on this issue is that I purchased hundreds of dollars worth of router bits from a particular company, mainly because of the unconditional gaurantee used to promote their bits.  I paid a premium for these bits - Anyone who buys rockler router bits knows that they are not giving these things away.  I could have spent much, much less on generic bits from China, and thrown them away when they broke. 

In closing, I want to stress that this message is not an attempt to pursuade anyone from doing business with rockler.  I have many, many tools from the company, and I continue to do business with them, and would recomend the company to others - And no, I am not sponsored by them, but one can dream!  I am however, curious if my experiences are the exception or the rule.



Gregory Paolini

Private & Small Group Woodworking Classes in the Great Smokey Mountains

bones's picture

(post #102241, reply #10 of 23)

Thats why I've used craftsman tape rules for years.  When the spring would wear out, I just take it back and get a new tape.  only works on craftsman hand tools not the power stuff, but then they would be broke.

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:
If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it.
And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

...For that old machine lovers:

RW's picture

(post #102241, reply #3 of 23)

Some thoughts

Unconditional pertains in most instances to defects that are not the fault of the user. I don't know anyone who would replace a bit after its been used, unless the initial usage demonstrated the defect. If it were truly unconditional, every time a bit started to dull you could expect a replacement.

Rockler partner stores are just that. Partners. Not Rockler. I happen to work in a joint that is one. The advantage is we get to order from an enormous inventory of items, and order what we do or don't want. If you had a direct line with every vendor, you wouldn't do it. Most outfits don't have that. Rockler has thousands, so they've become a one stop shop for a lot of the smaller things. So if you want two half pints of one item for a guy, and you'll never order it again, its an asset. But partner stores can't possibly inventory everything that Rockler has without really, really deep pockets. And probably don't want to. I suspect whoever you are going to is no different. They augment their bread and butter lines with the depth and breadth of products that Rockler can supply them with.

As to the guarantee, they've been fine in our experiences, though even though they'd take an item back from you and refund, from a store they charge restocking, and the net is a loss. You're better off going direct.

All in all though, I like them. I've heard every good and bad thing about them from people and they're genuinely decent to deal with day to day. That's my experience.

Real trucks dont have sparkplugs

Real trucks dont have sparkplugs

Tinkerer3's picture

(post #102241, reply #5 of 23)

The Rockler stores that I have seen whether corporate or franchised (partnered) have the sign out front that says "Rockler."  Sort of misleading, wouldn't you say?  Could be grounds for a law Suit.

ctsjr82's picture

(post #102241, reply #6 of 23)

I've never had a problem with the Rockler store in Houston when I've had to return items, and they've gone the extra mile with me once. I inherited a slew of router bits and other assorted merchandise from my father in law, all of it new and still in it's sealed packages, just never used or opened. Rockler took it ALL back and gave me store credit, no questions asked or hesitation. I was impressed. Tom

"Notice that at no time do my fingers leave my hand"

"Notice that at no time do my fingers leave my hand"
dgreen's picture

(post #102241, reply #7 of 23)

This is Rocklers guarantee as stated on their website.

Our Guarantee of Satisfaction

We are proud of the quality of our products, and stand behind them 100%. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the merchandise you ordered, just return it within 90 days to receive a refund in the manner of original payment.  Your order will come with a return form with convenient instructions, or you may send your returns directly to Returns Department, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, 4365 Willow Drive, Medina, MN 55340.




Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
~ Denis Diderot




Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
~ Denis Diderot

brownman's picture

(post #102241, reply #8 of 23)

Hi Greg,
I like you have purchased items from the Rockler store and haven't had but only a few occasions to return items that I felt didn't work well for me. They did grant me a refund less a restocking fee, which I didn't notice until after I left the store.
Having been a serious woodworker for many years now I've learned that Rockler has a tendency to come up with a lot of gimmick items that generally are overpriced and under necessary. I can usually find the tools, jigs, router bits, etc. that have been proven in the field at my local cabinet supply shop, such as E.B. Bradley or Louis and Co. for much less. Granted with these Co's you are required to set up a business account with them which isn't difficult for any one with a little thought and effort. For example, when I can buy European hinges for less than $3.00 a pair vrs. $6.00 or more at Rockler it makes good sense and saves me a lot of cents. Don't get me wrong I still purchase at the Rockler store but usually only when I have a 20 to 50% off coupon from a direct e-mail or mailed flyer.

Oilstone's picture

(post #102241, reply #9 of 23)

So it's your interpretation that otherwise perfectly serviceable merchandise that simply dulls is susceptible to being replaced under the guarantee?

"This sawblade, bit, etc. got dull so please replace it"  Is this how you phrase it when you're talking 'to corporate?'

Edited 10/13/2008 6:59 am ET by Oilstone

GregoryPaolini's picture

(post #102241, reply #11 of 23)

Dgreen:  Thanks for posting that guarantee, which I belive to be Rockler's blanket promise, but not the "Unconditional" guarantee associated with their router bits.    As I read it, I have to ask "Is this Unconditional, or are there any conditions associated with the guarantee"  With the guarantee you posted, there are in the for of "90 Days", therefore that guarantee can not, by definition, be the "Unconditional Guarantee"

Oilstone:  Belive it or not, Rockler corporate never asks me what is wrong with the bit(s), although I have shared with corporate that bearings have failed, or edges have chipped, and even that bits have dulled beyond usefulness.  The response from them which sticks in my head is a definitive "Unconditional means Unconditional" 

Tinkerer3: I don't want to suggest any type of litigation or legal action at all.  In my opinion, Rockler is a wonderful resource for woodworkers, and the last thing I would want to see is them raising prices more, in an effort to subsidize an unfavorable court ruling.  Besides,  what I can relay from my conversations with Rockler corporate is that my interpretation of their "Unconditional Guarantee" is the correct interpretation, and at a corporate level, which would be the focus of any suit, Rockler seems to be on the level.  

We can always seem to get a little off topic, relating to sawblades, or pricing of items at Rockler versus other vendors, but my query is really focused strictly on the return of router bits, for any reason.

Edited 10/13/2008 4:58 pm ET by GregoryPaolini

Gregory Paolini

Private & Small Group Woodworking Classes in the Great Smokey Mountains

Tinkerer3's picture

(post #102241, reply #13 of 23)

"I don't want to suggest any type of litigation or legal action at all". 

Good boy.  But you have to protect yourself.  There are those who would sue for anything if it meant money in their pocket.  We have a family friend (doctor) who lost a civil suit for some eighteen million.  According to other doctors, it was completely frivolous but some slick lawyers convinced a jury otherwise.  It just makes my blood boil.

On the hand, while in the landlord business, I would sue several people a year for non payment of rent.  I felt justified.

Jimmy's picture

(post #102241, reply #14 of 23)

I think Oilstone was saying that its a bit, shall we say, wrong, to buy a bit, dull it through normal use, and than return it for a new bit...I happen to agree with him....

Tinkerer3's picture

(post #102241, reply #15 of 23)

I agree with that philosophy also unless there is a very firm understanding that the seller has agreed to that mode of trade.  I just couldn't make myself do that, otherwise.

sandman605's picture

(post #102241, reply #12 of 23)

Rockler's unconditional guarantee was meant for people who have common sense that won't try to return product after normal use. I tried to return pencils to Office Max but they wouldn't take them back because I sharpened them down to 1" long. I told Office Max they are no use to me since I can no longer hold them while writing and the eraser is gone. I still will no longer buy anything from Office Max. Now Staples has all my business.

bd's picture

(post #102241, reply #16 of 23)

My response would be to ask "What planet did you get off of, dude??"

Why in the world would you think anyone would warranty a wear item from wearing out, or a cutting instrument for getting dull? Sounds like you're trying to get something for nothing.

larinUP's picture

(post #102241, reply #17 of 23)

Caveat emptor -

Read >>>


MouldyFigg's picture

(post #102241, reply #18 of 23)

Sorry to join this discussion so late, but I want to explain why I have more sympathy with Greg than some of you seem to have. Normally, I would not "think anyone would warranty a wear item from wearing out," as bd says. But Rockler did. Nobody made them do it. And here's why I think Greg's interpretation of that "unconditional guarantee" is reasonable:
In FWW No. 137, the magazine tested straight router bits, rating them basically on the basis of how fast they got dull. That was the measure of quality. Some were still pretty sharp after 248 feet of melamine-coated particle board. The Rockler bit "wore out after 130 feet."
Was that a premature failure? Would you agree that premature failure/dulling qualifies for replacement under the unconditional guarantee? If so, what constitutes "premature"? To me, the unconditional guarantee (which applies only to router bits) says that Rockler stands behind the quality of its bits and won't quibble about how long they should last - they will just replace them. And to their credit, they seem to be honoring that promise, at least at the corporate level.
Maybe Rockler issued its above-and-beyond-normal guarantee to reassure customers who were put off by the 1999 test in FWW. (BTW, Rockler profile bits rated better in a more recent test in FWW No. 191.) Whatever the reason, they made the promise voluntarily and promoted it for commercial purposes, and I wouldn't feel bad about holding them to it.

heartwould's picture

(post #102241, reply #19 of 23)

We could easily equate this to an all inclusive (or "bumper to bumper") warranty.  More and more we are seeing such incredible "limited warranties" that you should know full well that you are buying the product at your own risk.  For any company to offer an "unconditional guarantee" that is truly unconditional is refreshing!  When the comapny representative reiterates their practice and backs it up by replacing the piece--for any reason--why not take them at their word? 

It isn't exactly like running your 4 1/2 year old car into a brick wall and demanding a new one from the manufacturer, is it?

RonInOttawa's picture

(post #102241, reply #22 of 23)

From my myopic point of view, the question is one of ethics. Even if Rockler is aware of the scope of their guarantee it doesn't mean I have to take advantage of it. Personally, I would feel embarrassed (and really cheap) if I used a router bit to the point of dullness and then took advantage of the supplier by returning it and requesting a new one. Folks who seek to benefit or exploit any possible opening to gain a personal advantage are one of the main reasons we have such a plague of lawyers.

While I'm grumbling, and appropo of nothing, I should also note that I believe every able-bodied citizen should have to pay a fine if they don't vote. One of the legitimate choices on every ballot would also have to be "None of the above" just to let the "winner" know where they really stand with the populace.

OK, I'll go back into my ivory tower now. . .


The biggest difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits. - A. Einstein

coolbeans's picture

(post #102241, reply #23 of 23)

lol, an i agree whole heartedly on all accounts, although mines a wooden tower,lol. ps, nice name


Oilstone's picture

(post #102241, reply #20 of 23)

Actually in this case caveat venditor might be more appropriate...

larinUP's picture

(post #102241, reply #21 of 23)

"Caveat venditor is Latin for "let the seller beware". Returning worn-out drill bits would fall into this category. I never read the "fine print," and that is where buyer beware comes in.

However, the seller must be aware we can control who we buy from. A large WW online seller is on my "don't buy from list ( not Rockler)." Repeated shipping problems - like shipping a WWII blade on the bottom of a box with 4 heavy casters on top - no packing in between, or below the blade and the bottom of the box. Customer service was, well, lip service.

Comments about sellers and products on forums are valuable, useful info for us. It is up to us to question the validity of complaints when reading forums, but I believe rational discussions are valuable. I'v made buying decisions based on what I have learned on WW forums.

How about this list :

>Buyer beware,
>vender beware, and
>reader beware.