Jesse's Tips: How long is a 'lifetime'?

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by JESSE JONES / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on July 14, 2010 at 11:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 14 at 9:29 PM

Erik Lozott bought his Ford F-350 eight years ago from Millennium Ford in Burien.

"It's always worked good and I've never had any problems with it," he said.

He also purchased a lifetime oil change certificate for $200.

But in May he was told by the dealership it was the end of the road for those oil changes.

"He says, 'We'll give you one last oil change, and after that we're no longer honoring the certificate,'" recalled Erik.

Here's what happened: Millennium Ford went out of business and a new Ford dealership took its place, with different owners.

So we asked UW law professor Steven Calandrillo, what is a "lifetime" in this case.

"Unless they've assumed the liabilities of the old company, it doesn't mean they will have to honor his lifetime oil change contract," he said.

Calandrillo says if the business goes under, your lifetime deal goes away too. So, first remember, any purchase like this is a gamble by the consumer that the business will be around for a while.

"If a customer wants to make sure his lifetime oil change will be honored, he has to make sure his business still has its own life."

Next, try to figure out how many times you will use the service. You just want to make sure it's cost-effective.

Finally, and if you decide to make the purchase, use it. Erik only got seven oil changes in eight years. Had he known that, he probably wouldn't have bought it. The dealership in this case is right. No business is going to tell you they are about to go under.

So just remember, when it comes to a lifetime deal, it's buyer beware!

For consumer concerns, e-mail Jesse at getjesse@king5.com or call toll-free 877-51-JESSE.

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