One fine day Thomas Jefferson strolled over to see his good friend George Washington. He found him relaxing on the front porch.
“I say, old Gorgie. I’m in the market for a rocking chair. What you got?”
George looked up from his mint julep and greeted his pal. “Tommy boy! Good to see you! You’re in luck, I just whittled me up that chair over yonder with my trusty pocket knife. That’s one piece construction, too. The whole thing came from a single piece of cherry wood from a tree I personally felled.”
Tom went over and admired the piece, lovingly running his hands over the perfectly finished wood. “She’s a beauty for sure, George,” he said.
George nodded. “Thanks.”
Dammit, Tom thought to himself. Sometimes George could be a man of annoyingly few words. Get a little of Samuel Adam’s ale in the bastard, though, and he’d open right up. Unfortunately Tom was plumb out.
“OK,” Tom said. “I’m interested. What do you want for her?”
If George was intrigued, he didn’t show let it show. “I don’t know. What you got?”
“I find myself with a few extra odds and ends in my larder,” Tom replied. “Some bones of oxen, sheep and goats. And some clay pots. Oh, plenty of bacon and lard, too.”
George nodded. “I’m sure we can come to an accommodation. The chair is yours. As always it comes with my lifetime warranty.” George extended his hand.
Tom grasped the offered hand and they shook on it. “You’ve got yourself a deal, George.”
George nodded. “I’ll draw up the papers for your John Hancock.” They both laughed off their asses at that one.
Later they both signed the document that George had produced. George handed Tom the rocking chair and Tom allowed George to raid his larder. But nowhere did the signed instrument define the term “lifetime warranty.” So what was it, besides a rocking chair, that Tom had just purchased?
Tom remembered the principle of caveat emptor or “let the buyer beware.” He needed a definition for lifetime warranty and he needed it fast. He couldn’t allow George to pull another fast one on him.
Tom fired up his Windows 1763 and search for “lifetime warranty.” One example he found was this:
Cisco Limited Lifetime Hardware Warranty Terms
Duration of Hardware Warranty: As long as the original End User continues to own or use the Product, provided that: fan and power supply warranty is limited to five (5) years. In the event of discontinuance of product manufacture, Cisco warranty support is limited to five (5) years from the announcement of discontinuance.
In other words, when you hand over your money to Cisco in exchange for a piece of hardware, one of the things you are agreeing to is that the definition of “lifetime” means five years for the fan and power supply and five years from when the product is discontinued on all other hardware.
I bet they really emphasize that in their advertising and proactively provide a definition when they take your money, right?
Jefferson tried to get payback on Washington for the rest of his life and only succeeded once when he switched in a marked deck of cards. Washington was never able to win at solitaire again.