Imagine scoring the perfect pair of jeans: Comfortable, stylish, and skin-hugging in all the right places. Heaven in denim! Then after one trip through the dryer those perfect jeans become shrunken, high-water jeggings that can never be returned to their former glory. All is lost!

Or is it? Check the label. Did those jeans come from a company with a guarantee? If the answer is “yes” there is hope for a replacement pair.

All clothing companies offer some type of return policy. It is often a simple one whereby they only accept returns of unworn, unwashed merchandise within a certain time frame (such as 30 days from the date of purchase). But others offer a more generous policy that's often termed a "guarantee." This is a manufacturer's backing of its merchandise based on the consumer's satisfaction. So if those "perfect" jeans didn't hold-up after one wash it is considered a manufacturer's defect that can be covered by a guarantee.

To see if clothing qualifies for coverage under a guarantee, follow these steps:

Find the guarantee

Go to the company website, and click on either "Customer Service" or "Returns." If those options aren’t available or don’t contain information about the guarantee policy, check the "About" page or "Site Map" to find the correct link. For an example of how a guarantee policy will look, visit the website for L.L. Bean and view their guarantee policy.

Know the difference between a return policy and a guarantee

Here's where it’s important to read the fine print to see what's covered and what's not. This will reveal whether the company has an actual guarantee or just a return policy. For example, J. Jill has a rather generous 90-day return policy that takes a “we're not happy if you're not happy” approach. But it is a policy, not a guarantee. The guarantee policy at Eddie Bauer is clearly stated at the bottom of their homepage:  "Every item we sell will give you complete satisfaction or you may return it for a full refund.™"

Look for the word "lifetime" in the guarantee

Land's End, L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, The North Face, REI, and Coldwater Creek are all brands that carry lifetime guarantees on their products. The backpack companies Jansport and Outdoor Products also carry these guarantees. Any dissatisfaction or defect will result in a repair or replacement for the lifetime of their products by the product’s original owners.

Follow the rules of the guarantee

Check the wording of each guarantee online. Make sure to follow any specific directions given for returning merchandise, including the completion of any forms, packaging instructions, and sending the merchandise to the appropriate address for processing. Even if it's not required, submit a carefully-written letter to the company explaining the exact problem (i.e. broken zipper, loosed hemline, etc.) and whether you would like a repair, replacement, or merchandise credit, per the guarantee.

Patronize the company again

The reason companies offer these guarantees are to keep customers happy. So if the company did stand by its promise, shop there again. Better yet, let them know you will do so by adding that to your initial letter when returning the merchandise or in a follow-up letter after the guarantee has been completed. They'll appreciate knowing their guarantee helped retain a customer.

Some companies might also fulfill a guarantee even if they do not explicitly advertise one. Call the customer service number of the company, and ask about the policy for the specific issue (the apparel shrunk in the wash, has busted elastic, or another issue that might quality as "defective").

Get in the habit of looking for guarantees on other merchandise when making a purchase. Did you know Yankee Candle offers a full guarantee? So if that expensive candle lost its wick halfway through and won't burn, get it replaced!

Often, merchandise that comes with a guarantee will be more expensive. But it can be worth it knowing that the investment is covered by the manufacturer.

This is a guest post by Audrey from Texas
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