Greenlite USA sells rather inexpensive compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. In the Boston area, you can find them at Aborn Hardware on Harvard Street in Brookline.
Each Greenlite CFL bulb comes in a box which says “9-YEAR WARRANTY**” in big letters on all four sides. Your first sign of trouble comes when you follow the two little asterisks to the fine print on the back of the box, which reads, “This bulb is unconditionally warranted for 2 years from date of purchase. This 10,000 hour bulb is unconditionally warranted to last 2 years. If bulb does not last 2 years, please return it with proof of purchase, register receipt, your name and address to…” Apparently, their 9-year warranty is actually a 2-year warranty. I once sent them email asking for an explanation of this discrepancy, which some might even call false advertising, and they never responded.
More recently, I purchased a Greenlite CFL bulb on March 27, which failed within a few months. I emailed Greenlite on August 20 asking how to get the bulb replaced under warranty. The same day, an employee of Greenlite responded to my email with an email message containing no body and a subject line of “ADDRESS?” I responded the same day by sending my address.
Almost a month later, on September 19, I hadn’t heard anything further by email, nor had I received a replacement bulb, so I wrote again and politely asked when I should expect to hear more.
On October 11, when I still hadn’t received any response or a replacement bulb, I sent a message which read as follows:
I would sure hate to have to go to the trouble of filing consumer protection complaints with the Attorney Generals of California and Massachusetts and the Better Business Bureau, posting messages all over the Internet telling people that your CFL bulbs fail and you don’t honor your warranty, and attempting to convince the store from which I bought this bulb that they should stop selling merchandise from a dishonest company, but that’s what I’ll have to do if you can’t be bothered to send me a replacement or answer my inquiries about when you will be doing so.
Given the amount of time I’ve now wasted trying to get this bulb replaced, at this point you ought to consider sending me more than one bulb to compensate me for the trouble.
The same day, I received a response from a different person at Greenlite, once again asking for my mail address, and once again, I responded the same day.
On October 16, I received a box from Greenlite containing a four-pack of Greenlite CFL bulbs. Alas, the bulbs they sent were their 23W bulbs, which we don’t have any need for, rather than the 13W variety, which is the kind that failed in the first place.
On October 18, I wrote to them again as follows:
This would be funny if it weren’t so aggravating.
I received two days ago the four bulbs you sent in response to my warranty request. Unfortunately, as I clearly indicated in the first email I sent your company almost two months ago about my failed bulb (see attached), the bulb which failed is a 13W bulb, not a 23W bulb. I have no use for a box of 23W bulbs — all of the fixtures in my house in which I use CFL bulbs are designed for 60W incandescent bulbs, so the 23W CFL generates too much light.
Would it be possible to get a replacement for the build [sic] that actually failed, as opposed to bulbs for which I have no use?
If you want me to send the 23W bulbs back to you, then please send me a prepaid shipping label for them.
A week or so later, wonder of wonders, I actually received a box containing a four-pack of the correct bulbs.
I don’t think that Greenlite is trying to avoid honoring their warranty, although the 2-year vs. 9-year thing is certainly a bit dicey. I think that people ask them to honor their warranty so infrequently that they simply don’t have a clue how to do it, and they haven’t bothered to set up a process to make it happen reliably.
What makes this somewhat ironic is this excerpt from their mission statement as posted on their Web site [It was posted on their Web site, but has been removed – ed.]: “Believe in having long term business relationships with our customers by ensuring the best personalized service, competitive and quality products and on-time delivery.” I think they’ve got a ways to go on that one.