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The Case for the New Guarantee of Satisfactory Service.
IN A RECENT 'ISSUE of The Commercial Motor, we dealt with the matter of the withdrawal of the tyre mileage guarantee by those makers who are members of the British Rubber .Tyre Manufacturers' Association, and, because we realized that this action had been largely misunderstood, we promised} to pursue our enquiries and to go into the subject further.
. There are 14 manufacturers of solid rubber tyres in this country. Thirteen of them belong to the Association, the firm of Chas. Macintosh and Co., Ltd., not being members. The menibership list consists of the Associated Rubber Manufacturers, Ltd. ; the Avon India Rubber'Co., Ltd. ; W. and A. Bates, Ltd.; the Dunlop Rubber Co., Ltd. ; Henley's Tyre and Rubber Co., Ltd. ; the Leyland and Birmingham-Rubber Co., Ltd. ; the North British Rubber Co., Ltd. ; Redfern's Rubber Works' Ltd. ; St. Helens Cable and Rubber Co., Ltd. ; Gee. Spencer Moulton. and Co., Ltd. ;_ Wood-Milne, Ltd. ; and Wallington, Weston and Co., Ltd. The other members are not makers of solid ty-res.
. The high reputations of concerns in the Association, and .the innate honesty (as we have already said) of the tyre trade compel one to pause in criticising an action such as that to which we are referring, lest one should be doing an injustice, because it has to be recognized that it is the generally held desire of the makers that British tyres shall give the fullest evidence of being the best that can be bought. Aftei. all, foreign competition in our markets is severe, and British tyre manufacturers can afford to give no points in -the fight for business.
The attitude of Messrs. Macintosh is clear. 'They are Prepared to provide a good tyre and to give a guarantee of a n'tinimurn mileage. What is quite sound policy (from the point of view of the whole tyre industry) for one .firm to adopt, with competing firms acting differently, would not he equally sound if every concern did one and the same thing. Looking at the matter from' the user's point of view, he does not want eagh and every manufacturer to be satisfied with sup-, plying tyres which -will just cover the 10,000 miles (or 15,000 miles for that matter) and, therefore, will just meet the guarantee. He desires that there shall prel 'ail among the manufacturers that sense of competition, that desire to emulate, and that wish to do better than the foreigner, which are generally recognized as having established the words "British made" on a pinnacle the world over.
The point is that 10,000 miles or even 15,000 miles is not long enough service, except on bad roads and under rough conditions. It is a regular thing far the tyres on London buses run from certain garages to do 90,000 miles ; a• number of the tyres have done over 100,000 miles. But, over some bus routes, 10,000 miles is quite average good service. In other words, tyres on precisely the same vehicles, but running under different read conditions, will vary in service as one is to ten.
This variation in conditions prevails all over the country in respeet of commercial vehicle employment, and it is a fair question to ask how, in such circumstances, any mileage gUarantee alone can take care of the interests of all users with strict fairness, to. each. It means that, the user who has the fortune to have good roads for his work (and who, in consequence, has C30 to meet fiercer competition in haulage charges) Must pay some of the tyre costs of the man who has to work over rough roads but who is able to charge accordingly.
The makers in the Association are prepared to give what they describe as a "guarantee of satigfactory service." This can only bo eonstrued by maker. and uSer (and, if needs he, by a Court of Law) as an undertaking that the service giv en by the tyres supplied shall be good as is given, in the same set of circumstances, by any known make of tyres. This naturally increases the reaponsibility•of the maker and preserves the full right of the user.
The mileage guarantee, on the other hand, contains a number of onerous -eonditionS, but the user frequently shirks his responsibilities, contenting himself with the bare statement that the tyres are guaranteed for so many miles. It' is incorrect to regard the guarantee as a form or insurance. The mileage guarantee is really not a guarantee of service:. it only specifies that claims shall be settled in a particular way. The conditions are onerous, because all possible chances of abuse of the. guarantee have bad to be guarded against. The result is that it is a. formof warranty which definitely limits the liability of the imakers and the rights of the user, because i.t replace-s any other guarantee, statutory, expressed or implied.
The mileage guarantee, • again, involves acceptance of troublesome conditions, whereas, under the guarantee of satisfactory service, no special conditions as to recording mileage, loads, etc., need first be complied with before a claim can be advanced
Under the new guarantee, any settlement must be dealt with on broad generous lines, as -it must satisfy all the reasonable requirements of the user, but, under the mileage guarantee, the form of settlement was fixed and none other could be made :even if the settlement was not always equitable. For example, take a man who, working nnder good road conditions, gets an average of 18,060 miles per tyre. If a tyre through. a defect only does 9,000 miles, it has done one-half of what he had a right to expect. Under one guarantee he would be not unreasonable in claiming an .allowmace for the lost 9,000 miles; under the 10,000 miles guarantee he could only claim for 1,000 miles Take even so small a matter (apparently) as the tune limit ; the period covered by the mileage guarantee commenced to run out when the tyre left the makers and, by the time -the user put it into service, a substantial portion of the guaranteed -period might have lapsed. After the time had expired, claims could not be admitted, even if the tyre proved to have been _defeeti-ve. With the newer guarantee, there is no time limit.
The mileage guaranteed under the old form was the came for all conditions of service :under the newer guarantee all the varia.bies affecting mileage ca-n be takenTairly into account.
This comparison :seemsto us to set out equitably the difference between the two forms of guarantee, and our own feeling is that the British manufacturer of tyres is too anxious to secure a good name and to ensure a good demand for' his wares to do otherwise than. -to treat' his customers 'reasonably and even generously