A couple of months ago I got fed up with the fraying and splitting rubber sleeve on the foaming wand of my Breville espresso machine and called up the manufacturer to complain. A sweet lady apologized and said she’d send a replacement out right away by courier. Free, no less.

That easy and satisfying solution got me thinking about all the times I’ve benefited from warranties, sometimes unexpectedly.

A few years back, I took my collection of Henckel knives into a free sharpening clinic. One of my favourites had the point broken off after some unauthorized workshop surgery done by my husband years earlier. Even though I confessed to my spouse’s crime, the manufacturer’s representative took one look at it, furrowed his brow as if the knife was at fault and said, “That shouldn’t happen.” Voilà, a brand new implement.

On another occasion we ordered a replacement for our Frigidaire fridge, by then a year or so past the warranty. When the repairman delivered it he noticed a crack on the plastic base of the fridge and said, “I think that that’s a new fridge.” We were stunned when a new one showed up a couple of weeks later. We had forgotten that there was a 20-year warranty on the liner.

Similarly, Obus Forme replaced the back and seat of a 10-year-old office chair. Again, we’d forgotten those parts carried a lifetime part guarantee.

Almost everything we buy, from vice grips to light bulbs, has some kind of guarantee attached and sometimes manufacturers will even replace items after the warranty has expired — you won’t know until you ask.

Yes, some manufacturers don’t stand behind their product but my experience is that mostly they do, especially those located in Canada or the U.S. Mining your warranties can pay off in thousands of dollars of replacement items over the years.

Now, if I can just find the lifetime warranties on all the garden hoses I’ve bought over the years.

Alison’s Money Rule:

Product warranties are like gold nuggets buried in the ground — you just have to dig them up and put them to good use.