Read this before you buy an Efco, especially if the warranty is a determining factor in your purchase.
I’ll start at the beginning, for us anyway. We started selling the Efco brand here at the chainsawr about 4 years ago. At that time (late 2008 early 2009) Efco was going through some major changes here in the USA to their sales distribution strategies. Deals to produce saws for Cub Cadet and John Deere were coming to an end (I would love to know why, but I have my hunches), and underperforming regional distributors were being canned in exchange for ones that would push the brand’s new 5-year warranty and more professional image harder. Around this time Efco also changed its policy for online and catalog sales. It used to be that Efco was like Stihl, no sales of power equipment unless it physically walked out your door. About 5 years ago that changed for an ‘anything goes’ policy as long as you could move more units. So, we signed on with Efco at the beginning of 2009 to join in their new Era of professionalism and push to make them a real 3rd tier power equipment brand in the USA.
Three years went by of slowly building sales, spending lots of money on advertising, and trying to sell the hell out of a low margin chainsaw. I had figured it would take at least 5 years before we were selling enough in Efco to make it worth our time; well we never made it that far. For middle range saws it was always an easy sell, on a 156 over a hardware store 455 Rancher. No brainer right? The 152, 156, 165, and 132s were all good solid models at low prices. The small saws, sub 152 (except the 132s), were always problematic, and the MT7200/MT8200 were the worst performing, floppiest, heaviest chainsaws I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Of all the MT8200s we sold, there were only 2 that we did not buy back from the customer after repeated servicing under warranty etc. So, that gets me to the warranty related section of my story.
In 2009, 2010, and 2011 we were able to essentially administrate our own warranty on all repairs other than whole saw replacement, or complete motor failure. We got used to this situation and got into the habit of doing warranty repairs right away for the customer to get them happy and going, then submit our warranty claim paperwork once or twice a year depending on how many claims added up. For the most part the warranty was all for small items. 100s of stop switches (boy I wished they would do away with these, I had some that didn’t even last 1 day!), starter springs, carburetor cap removal/readjustment/reinstallation. Some of the common, more serious warranty claims would include coils, and shattered mufflers along with the occasional new 100% defective saw or new saw missing parts. Let me stress this, we NEVER ABUSED our warranty. It covered ‘manufacturer’s defects’ so if it was we covered it. Giving us the dealer the responsibility to make these judgments worked very well in our case, I never would have’ bitten the hand that feeds me’. More than once we lost dishonest customers who wanted their mistakes covered under warranty because, they were the customer, and they were the ones standing in front of me yelling and stomping, “how could Efco ever know? JUST COVER IT!” but we never did. We were always honest to a fault in our warranty claims.
So, at the end of 2012 when we submitted our warranty claims every last one was denied. This was unacceptable to us since with the 5 year warranty, and low sales margin, we were relying on the income from warranty repairs to even justify the shelf space for Efco! Our distributor told us they were in the same position, having had none of their warranties which they submitted for other dealers paid. We are talking between dealers and distributors, tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid claims by Efco on the Northeast alone. You would think I would go ballistic, but no I made civil mild protests to Efco. I’m not the type to burn bridges for spite alone.
January, 2013. We get notice from Efco that our dealership is canceled and we may reapply with Efco, and that our distributor has also been canned. I know that this was for no other reason than to try to wash their hands of the debt they owed us. If it wasn’t insulting enough that a well established dealer should have to reapply and start from scratch, they want a minimum order of power equipment units from the new distributor in order to establish the new account, that is IF I’m approved by Efco. They must be insane. I already have $10,000 in un-sellable new saws in stock.
So, here is what I think Efco’s current sales strategy is. Sell the majority of the product online or mail order while maintaining the false image of a servicing dealer network. That way before somebody buys their next Efco on Amazon.com or Northern Tool, they can look at the Efco dealer map and see that, “Yes, there is a servicing dealer near me that can provide the warranty work!” Unfortunately, no that dealer near you will probably not provide the warranty work, and if they do Efco will not be paying them to do it.
The worst part for us is that the majority of F-holes (Efcos) we sold, we sold based on our personal recommendation. No customer EVER came in and said “I want an Efco 156” etc. etc. They came in with an open mind about buying whatever new chainsaw we thought was best for them, trusting in us. Now, over the coming years we are really going to have egg on our faces. The number of times I said, “These Italian saws are tough and you can’t beat the warranty”, is beyond counting. In order to keep our integrity this whole situation is going to cost us $1000s in un-backed warranty work, and buying back saws we can stand behind.
So, let it be known. Do not factor the warranty into your decision to buy an Efco.