What’s your story?
Share and find customer experiences
Connect with the people behind them
feedback made social
Zippo won't repair fakes but that's not the only items the company won't fix. The repair guarantee is so well known that the company has the trademarked slogan of "It works or we fix it for free." Zippo's advertisement that it guarantees to fix any of its own, authentic lighters but the claim isn't true. Call it false advertising or call it really irritating. Regardless, it's not right.
The manufacturer's corporate claim on its website was: "In almost 75 years, no one has ever spent a cent on the mechanical repair of a Zippo lighter regardless of the lighter’s age or condition." It forgot to say "unless it's one of our candle models including the widely-sold Multi-Purpose Lighter." The claim no one's spent a cent on a mechanical repair seems awfully funny. I spent ten to fifteen dollars in trying to get a Zippo repaired, while the company basically chose to chuck mine and instead send me one worth half the price.
The highly-advertised Zippo Repair Guarantee that the world has associated with the brand for years:
"In the unlikely event that your Zippo product will need repaired, bring it to the Zippo/Case Museum in Bradford, Pennsylvania and watch the technicians in the Repair Clinic repair your Zippo product. Viewing is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST. Of course, if you can't make the trip...you can always send it to us for repair. Follow the repair instructions for your particular product below prior to sending any product for to us."
What the company does not make clear or actually represents otherwise is that Zippo does not repair all its products or lighters.
The company's built a reputation for fixing any lighter and a supposed guarantee of quality, in its trademarked slogan that it fixes its products. It's a statement that's not true despite the advertisement. Zippo does not repair or fix all of its products. The company now replaces products like its Multi-Purpose Lighters at whim. It won't tell you what you're getting in return before you pay the five bucks shipping with the expectation you'll actually have your lighter repaired. If you've got the MPL you're sending in, odds are you'll get the Mini MPL as a replacement for your existing lighter even though the shorter lighter doesn't even include a metal casing and feels more on par with a cheap Bic disposable. Customers could save themselves the money and headache by just going to buy a Bic candle lighter instead of sending in the regular/standard MPL for repair. For those who aren't aware, the company doesn't make the Multi-Purpose lighter anymore, so no one's getting the model returned back to them.
Visiting the Zippo website under its "Lighters" area of the website, the company claims and promises: "It works or we fix it for free. We don't make that promise lightly. We know that behind every Zippo product sent for repair is an owner depending on our promise to get it back in working order. Whether a lighter is five years, 25 years, or 50 years old, it will serve as a dependable source of flame for years to come. We guarantee it." Note that this statement clearly says "it works or we fix it for free," includes the word "promise" and says the company knows that "behind every Zippo product sent for repair" is someone waiting on it. It all feels highly deceptive since the company actually doesn't follow that promise.
It's a very succinct statement and promise by Zippo that refers to all the company's lighters and products. That's the way it reads. That's what the company has advertised for years, and that's the page the manufacturer defaults for presentation to customers on its website where repair instructions appear. But when the company references that warranty as being "behind every Zippo product sent for repair," it's not true. No matter how expensive your lighter may be, Zippo doesn't apply its warranty to products like the Multi-Purpose Lighters. Maybe they don't expect them to last. Mine never functioned from the get-go, and the fact the company no longer even makes the model is an obvious indicator of how well the product worked, or plainly didn't work.
The standard-sized MPL wasn't cheap. For a candle lighter it was fairly expensive, ranging in the ballpark of about $40. The Zippo MPL immediately started malfunctioning no matter how much butane was in the lighter and no matter what I tried to do to make it work better. Aware of Zippo's supposed great reputation, I was sure it had to be me or something I was doing wrong. For months I was sure it had to be some weird glitch I was unaware of. I tried storing the the lighter in a warmer climate in the kitchen and then tried a cooler climate used for storage. Nothing worked. I tried everything I could think of, including shaking the lighter, a method that seemed to occasionally help at first. Maybe that was simply luck.
The problems with igniting started virtually on day one and just got progressively worse over time. I first, stupidly, thought maybe the MPL needed to burn through a batch of fuel in order to work better. Then, when that didn't seem to be helping and actually seemed even more severe with not lighting even on a tenth try, I refilled the lighter. The MPL had worked to light (literally) a few candles before it became completely inconsistent and then pretty much non-functioning altogether.
I tried igniting the lighter at different angles, turning on its side, keeping it vertical, etc. I thought maybe I was holding the ignition too short or too long, or that maybe I wasn't handling the childproof button correctly. It's now obvious the Zippo MPL has very serious ignition problems and those seem to be well-documented online, though the company doesn't admit or refer to problems on its website.
The regular sized MPL lighter proved to be one of the worst pieces of junk ever purchased, and I could've bought half a dozen Bic candle lighters for about the same price. It wouldn't light even with full butane that was filled to the max. I wasn't aware there had been numerous reports of issues with the quartz igniter and didn't know it was made in China. By the time I finally found out the truth about the lack of quality and issues customers were having with the product, months had passed. After contacting Zippo the rep said to send the Multi-Purpose lighter in for repair. I had visited Zippo's website that claimed the company stands behind its products and touted repairs for any lighter regardless of its age. It's not made clear by the company that when it refers to any product, it's really referring only to specific models.
With the phone rep, I had been very specific about exactly what type of lighter I owned and even its exact model. But the Zippo rep left out some very important information when instructing me how to send in my lighter for repair: Zippo did not say it had enough problems with the MPL that it wasn't even carrying the model anymore, nor did the company admit the problems were so extensive that it had pre-printed a message for MPL repair customers that it would be returning me something entirely different than what I'd bought.
For the repair, Zippo was very clear it would cost about five bucks in shipping and that the lighter had to be insured for acceptance to its repair tech facility. I took the time to do it all, including draining all of its expensive lighter fluid before shipment. I knew it would take some time for repair completion and wasn't expecting an immediate turnaround arrival. But, after weeks of the product still being at the repair facility and not hearing a word, I finally called for a status update on the lighter. I received no return call from customer service or the company at all, despite two attempts. The Zippo Repair facility in Bradford, Pennsylvania, additionally had my telephone number already on file because the company also requires in its return instructions that a customer "enclose a note with your name, address, telephone number, and email address to receive a confirmation of receipt and reshipment of your repaired item."
Finally my Zippo arrived back to me, or a Zippo anyway but it wasn't mine. In the box was a lighter I had never seen and packaged with a piece of sheared-off paper from the repair facility. The message on the paper was the equivalent of a screw you. The company is apparently making its own attempt to 'go green' with its printed, crooked piece of paper thrown into the return box, a package that was entirely absent of the lighter I'd sent in for repair. I did find it interesting that there's obviously been such a problem with the MPL candle lighter that the repair department has pre-printed messages for customers, a note specifically pertaining to the model. Apparently Zippo can make the lighter (or have it stamped with its name that is supposed to represent quality) but, after all those sales, can't be bothered to repair what amounts to an inferior piece of junk.
Basically, despite all my time, the company said 'here's a lighter. It's not the one you owned. It's not the one you picked or paid for. We didn't bother calling you to ask if we could substitute a far cheaper model that's nearly two inches shorter, doesn't do the same thing, and isn't even aluminum or metal and instead has an acrylic casing, but here you go.'
The MPL was a long-necked lighter made by Zippo. Now the company doesn't want anything to do with the model. It's substituting the very short version in place of the original longer model.
Here's the pre-printed, written communication received from Zippo in the return package, less my input that appears in parentheses:
"Dear Zippo Customer:
Thank you for entrusting us with the repair of your Zippo MPL (yes, it really does list the specific model number for the product it doesn't plan to repair despite the statement that the company knows I've entrusted the product to their care and obviously expect it back).
The regular size MPL is no longer available (aka, the product was such a piece of junk and had so many problems that we're not making it or even dealing with it anymore). We have replaced your product (that you paid nearly double the price for) with our newer (less expensive and more cheaply made) product (that has entirely different specifications including more than one and half inches less in length). Like its big brother the Mini MPL is ruggedly constructed from brass (barring cheap acrylic casing), has a child-resistant safety button, fuel supply window and an adjustable flame dial.
Even better (unless you need the length for lighting candles which is probably why you purchased a specific, longer candle lighter to begin with), the Mini MPL features a soft touch mechanism and a more compact size (which means you can no longer easily light deeper glass candles), making it even easier to light and use (since the regular-sized MPL with its quartz igniter didn't consistently function or light, regardless of how much butane was filled to the max).
For the optimum performance of all our MPLs, we recommend the use of genuine Zippo brand butane fuel (so you can spend more money yet on a lighter you never planned to purchase or own, and already drained from the model you needed to send in for repair). For a retailer near you or to buy online, log on to [Zippo's website]."
We're giving you a product you didn't want, but buy our fuel.
When I asked the customer service rep why I'd never received a phone call about any product substitution and why neither of my two phone calls had additionally never been returned, this is literally what the customer service rep said: "We get a lot of calls. We can't call back every customer." Right. They can't call back every customer. Or the company doesn't want an earful about why it openly promises to repair every product with its supposed guarantee but truly has exceptions to the warranty.
When I pointed out the fact that the short, mini version of the expensive candle lighter I'd purchased isn't even long enough for deeper candles and that someone couldn't easily even use the Mini MPL for that type of use without potentially burning themselves (or the lighter), the Zippo rep told me that maybe I should've instead opted for the company's longer flex-neck version. That model is a more expensive product than the Mini MPL, and more on par with my original purchase, but Zippo decided to instead return me a cheaper substitution. I got the cheaper version of what already proved to be a crappy product.
The body or casing of the shorter Mini MPL is not metal, and I personally wouldn't fathom sticking it into a candle jar of depth. Maybe it's not the case, but it certainly seems a likelihood that the body could melt. While on the phone, I glanced at the flex-neck lighter online and told the rep I would've preferred the one she suggested rather than the one sent to me. The only problem is I was never given that option at all. Nor had the employee bothered telling me, during my first call where I was given instructions on how to return the product for "repair," that the company had any intent of simply swapping out a different item for replacement instead of fixing it.
The customer service rep indicated that wouldn't be a problem. The company would exchange the Mini MPL replacement for the flex-neck model she said was longer and better suited to lighting candles. All I needed to do was to package back up the miniature replacement I'd received and ship that one back to customer service or the repair department. I asked whether the return authorization would be coming by email and was told Zippo doesn't issue any RMA for return shipping. Unbelievably, if I wanted to return the excuse of a lighter that Zippo had sent me without any notification, I'd need to again pay (yet again) another five dollars in shipping in order to receive a more equivalent model to my original lighter.
So now it's up to $10 in shipping costs alone for what was represented as a repair that was going to occur, plus another few bucks in wasted fuel that was required to be drained prior to shipment. But the even better and crazier part is that I'd have to wait two weeks to get the suggested flex-neck model. According to the rep, her supervisor was on vacation. She needed management authorization to even be able to swap out the replacement lighter I never knew was being sent to me. When I told customer service that I didn't think it was very nice the company would simply take my engraved lighter without even a phone call, she said she could mail it back. It's all bizarre. According to the rep, it would be mailed back to me separately. She claims my original MPL I sent in for repair is still physically kicking around the repair facility, or somewhere at Zippo.
I find it hard to believe my engraved candle lighter is at their facility somewhere but truth is stranger than fiction. It's now been nearly a month without a word from Zippo or any sign of a package. And, no, I don't really expect to see it, but it's weird that the company claims to be holding onto lighters that it can't (or refuses to) repair - but somehow has at its facility weeks or a month later.
The customer service rep never said a word about the company's right to replacement versus repair but I figured it had to be in fine print somewhere, regardless that its ads have continued to tout that the company will repair its products including the oldest ones. Having an engraved product simply swapped out for a cheap substitute that runs half the price or less is more than irritating. So I started digging through the Zippo website and found something interesting.
There's a little addition appearing under the "Caring for Your Candle Lighter" sub-section, with text that entirely contradicts the general text appearing as the default on its "Lighters" tab. It's in a sub-section a customer wouldn't normally be looking for after already finding the repair instructions clearly listed on the general page. Under that "Care" heading, there's now wording that the Zippo Candle Lighter is warranted for three years from the date of purchase with proof of purchase, that customers are to include $5 for shipping and handling for each candle lighter sent, and that your candle lighter will be promptly repaired or replaced after receipt. Note that the "repaired or replaced" wording directly contradicts the Zippo promise to fix every product, a guarantee that's highly touted on the main page for "Lighters".
It's also interesting that the website description doesn't tell customers that because Zippo is no longer manufacturing the longer, 8" MPL (or having the product manufactured under its name), those customers needing a repair will absolutely have to have a substitute. They don't make it anymore. They won't fix it. They know they can't send one. The information should be listed for customers to make a decision, before going through all the hassle of sending in their existing product that's only going to be subsituted with a cheaper model and a big headache.
Maybe that's one of the most irritating parts. While the company knows it's not making the 8" MPL and isn't fixing the model, it could ethically notify customers on its website by clearly informing people that the model is not available and will not be repaired. In fact the company could also notify customers which model it intends to substitute. Or it could allow customers the courtesy of choosing the flex-neck model that more closely matches the traditional MPL, rather than the unlucky surprise of getting a lighter that's roughly two inches shorter and feels half the weight. But that would probably cost the company more money.
After owning its collectible lighters, giving Zippos as engraved gifts and always having trusted in the company's supposed lifetime warranty and reputation, I'll never purchase another of the company's products again after this experience. Zippo's repair seems to be in need of a name change, from "Zippo Repair Clinic" to Zippo Replacement Clinic. It seems to be a new specialization. In terms of false or deceptive advertising, the company needs to remove, alter its claim to fix every product, or at least make it abundantly clear that Zippo now provides only a three-year warranty on its long lighters and that age really does matter. The company also needs to make clear there's no guarantee your lighter is coming back to you and that, if it's a long one, could easily be swapped for a different product you never owned, intended to purchase, or even have a use for.