Judge Marilyn Milian shares what a lifetime guarantee really means : Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Comedian Alzo Slade and Emma seek legal counsel from 'The People's Court' Judge Marilyn Milian and pass judgment on an unfair pair of socks and a bad bowl of grits.

What a lifetime guarantee means according to Judge Marilyn Milian

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Hey, guys. I'm Emma Choi. And welcome to EVERYONE & THEIR MOM, a weekly show from Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! This week, we're talking about socks with Wait Wait panelist, comedian and someone who I think would show no mercy during bumper cars. It's Alzo Slade.

Hi, Alzo.

ALZO SLADE: What's...


SLADE: ...Cracking? And you're damn right. No mercy...

CHOI: (Laughter).

SLADE: ...In bumper cars, for sure.

CHOI: Yeah, yeah. I knew that from the moment I met you. Well, you're going to love this story, Alzo. Someone is suing Bass Pro Shops because they're not honoring the lifetime guarantee on their wool socks.

SLADE: I'm with you. Listen. I'm in the courtroom sitting right behind you, bro. Lifetime guarantee is supposed to be a lifetime guarantee.

CHOI: Yes, that's what I'm saying.

SLADE: What's happening to the socks, though?

CHOI: OK, OK. So, you know, it's - this is how it started out. All right. So you know how sometimes businesses make real big, dramatic promises and they're like, lifetime guarantee, impenetrable durability, or like, your back warts gone forever, right? Big promises...

SLADE: Yeah.

CHOI: ...But one man recently took one of these promises at face value and he sued Bass Pro Shops for violating their lifetime warranty on wool socks, as he should. Who would care that much about wool socks? A guy named Kent Slaughter does, Alzo. And, yes, that's his real name - Kent Slaughter.

SLADE: Kent Slaughter. Yeah.

CHOI: So Kent bought 12 pairs of the socks with the plan to return those 12 socks over and over again. So, like, eat them up, Kent.

SLADE: He bought them with the intention of returning them year after year.

CHOI: Yeah, but after the fourth return cycle, Bass Pro Shops said a flat no, right? So his lawsuit is saying that the whole reason he bought the socks is because Bass Pro Shops said, quote, "it'll be the last sock you'll ever need to buy."

SLADE: So what is the determination of a raggedy sock that necessitates it being in breach of the lifetime guarantee?

CHOI: I don't know.

SLADE: Maybe he is genuinely saying, I wear these socks like any regular person would and they raggedy. And so I'm bringing them back for you to make good on this promise. Listen. I'm pro-Slaughter in this case.


MARILYN MILIAN: Lifetime warranties - people think that it means something other than what it often means. And that's where the rub is here. I'm Marilyn Milian, and I'm the judge of "The People's Court" television show, which I have presided over for the last, oh, 22 years.

CHOI: Yeah. OK. So you've been following this case of the Bass Pro Shops sock thing, right? What's...

MILIAN: Oh, yeah.

CHOI: ...Your take on it?

MILIAN: I love it. I just...

CHOI: (Laughter).

MILIAN: ...I love it. And I love it because I am someone who has spent most of her career in the area of small claims.

CHOI: Yes.

MILIAN: And the thing that makes small claims beautiful and magical is that it's virtually never about the money. It's always about the principle.

CHOI: Yes.

MILIAN: And that's kind of what sock boy here is saying. He says you tell me that I have a lifetime warranty. That means something. You know, don't advertise it if you're not going to stick to it.

CHOI: Warranties feel like really big promises. Like, it feels really intense to promise something until, you know, you die. Is this, like, legal? Do you have to sign it in blood?

MILIAN: Here's the rub. It'll say lifetime warranty, and it's up to you to figure out what that means. First of all, most things will say limited lifetime warranty, or they'll say lifetime warranty on this part, but not on that part. Meanwhile, this part never breaks, so it's meaningless. Also, lifetime never means your lifetime, it means the lifetime of the product.

CHOI: Oh, come on.

MILIAN: So - and no, I don't mean the lifetime of your individual product, I mean the lifetime of that product being manufactured. It's - it really depends.


MILIAN: And what you have to do - and none of us do - is you have to read the warranty.


MILIAN: For example, I, myself, (laughter)...

CHOI: (Laughter).

MILIAN: ...Had bought a bodyguard's cover, you know, the stuff you put so that if you drop your phone, it doesn't - your phone doesn't crack, just the clear part. And it had said a lifetime warranty. And I'm thinking, oh, these guys are going to really lose some money on me because I drop my phone more than bad habits. And so...

CHOI: (Laughter).

MILIAN: ...By the fourth time, they tell me, this is your last. You only have five times. I go, the hell I do. I have a lifetime warranty. And...

CHOI: (Laughter).

MILIAN: ...They said, well, did you read the fine print? And, of course, even I didn't. And I said, no, let me see. What gives you the right to change it? He says, well, we reserve the right to change it in the print. And he's right.

CHOI: Got it.

MILIAN: So I've looked it up. And Bass Pro Shop no longer has a lifetime warranty.



MILIAN: They have a 60-day warranty. And they're not making that sock anymore, the one with the lifetime warranty.

CHOI: What?

MILIAN: That's right. That's right. And he's right. Like, if you look at the lawsuit, it says something about, oh, now you're switching to two bars across it so it's a different kind of sock and it's only a 60-day warranty. They have the absolute right to do that. Now, if the day that he went in, they hadn't done that yet - because that's what he claims, that they were still advertising a lifetime warranty - then he's right. He gets one more pair of socks. But if the product itself is not being manufactured anymore, that was the end of the lifetime warranty. If the company who gave you the lifetime warranty goes out of business, that is the end of the lifetime warranty.

CHOI: OK. Wow. This - I feel like I'm in law school right now. This is so cool.

MILIAN: There you go.


CHOI: Are you the kind of person who cashes on on, like, rebates and warranties?

MILIAN: Yeah. I absolutely am. I am very frugal. I actually clip coupons and stuff like that.

CHOI: Oh, yeah.

MILIAN: And my kids used to make fun of me when they were little. And I, you know, I nipped that in the bud because I paid for all their crap.

CHOI: So what do you think is going to happen with this case?

MILIAN: The best I think he can hope for is that he gets one more pair of socks, because in the cases that I've read, if, in fact, they're no longer manufacturing the product, that's it.

CHOI: Yeah. Well, before you go, is there anything you want to say to the judge that's presiding over this sock case?

MILIAN: Oh, is there anything the judge of "The People's Court" would like to say as an instruction to the federal judge who's handling the case? Yes. I am sure that he needs my advice on stuff, but I'm dying to see what the federal judge does.

CHOI: Me, too. I'm so excited.

MILIAN: Never has a pair of socks been so important to either of us.

CHOI: So true. And hopefully never again if our lives go right.

MILIAN: Exactly (laughter).

CHOI: You know, one thing we love about this story is it's an example of one guy who found a hill and, like, he chose that hill to die on. You know, he's like, I am - I will die on this hill. I deserve my money back for the socks, you know. But, I mean, what's - do you have any hills that you die on, like, a small thing that you will always commit to, even though people don't agree with you?

SLADE: That salt and pepper on your grits is much better than sugar.


SLADE: You know grits?

CHOI: I've never had them, but I do know them.

SLADE: OK, so...

CHOI: So tell me why.

SLADE: Let me give you another one.

CHOI: All right. All right. I'm ready.

SLADE: Grits is better than oatmeal.



CHOI: Why?

SLADE: You know, it's one of these - one of those answers, like, why? Because it's the truth. Why is it the truth? Because it's a fact.


SLADE: But see, you haven't had grits, right? I'm just saying. We need to set an appointment for you and I to have grits together.

CHOI: OK, Alzo. It's happening. I'm in LA. We're in the same room. I'm looking at your face with my eyes in space.

SLADE: We actually hugged each other because we're COVID free, the two of us.

CHOI: It's true. So, Alzo, basically, you had two hot takes right? The first hot take was that grits are better than oatmeal. And the second hot take was that salt and pepper grits are better than sugar grits.


CHOI: Yes. And you usually cook them over the stove?

SLADE: Yeah. You cook grits on the stove.

CHOI: Yeah.

SLADE: How were these grits cooked?

CHOI: They were microwaved.

SLADE: You can't do a proper grits challenge with microwave grits.

CHOI: Do you still want to do this?

SLADE: We're going to do it.

CHOI: All right. Okay, fine. Which one do we want to start with?

SLADE: I think we should start with the salt and pepper.

CHOI: Let's waft this. I'm going to say it smells like the color beige.

SLADE: OK. The consistency of the grits is important. Grits are supposed to be creamy.

CHOI: This is audio medium, so I want to give a quick description. It looks like if snow was a solid, and if you dropped it, it bounced.

SLADE: Yes. These are not the sound of grits I had in mind (laughter).

CHOI: All right. Should we move to the next one, then?

SLADE: Yes, the sugary...

CHOI: OK. I'm going to take a bite. Does that taste - OK. By your face, I know this is not how it's supposed to taste like. Did we destroy any precious childhood memories for you by giving you these grits?

SLADE: No. I've had bad grits before.

CHOI: Yeah?

SLADE: Yeah.

CHOI: What are the worst ones you've had before this?

SLADE: I mean, there are grits that you get, like, at a school cafeteria.

CHOI: Yeah.

SLADE: Oh, my God. They scoop them out. You know the old school ice cream scooper....

CHOI: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

SLADE: ...Where it has the button where it presses and it releases the ice cream from the scoop? They would use that. And so they would scoop up grits, and then they'd have to press the release in order to get them out of the scoop or onto your plate. And then you just got a solid ball of grits. So these are not the worst grits that I've had.

CHOI: OK. We'll take that.

SLADE: Yeah.

CHOI: To sum it up, OK, I'm going to say I agree with you that savory is better than sweet. But I feel like this was not grits in the form that you meant. So I'm going to say that's a - what's it called? - a hung jury.

SLADE: Yes. Yeah.

CHOI: Oopsie-daisy (ph).

SLADE: What is it, a mistrial?

CHOI: Yes, mistrial. Thank you, Alzo. This was so fun. Please come back more often.

SLADE: What up? Yeah, man, it was fun. What do you guys tell the people when it's not fun?

CHOI: Oh, we tell them that was fun, but you can tell in my eyes I don't mean it, so...

SLADE: You tell them the exact same thing you just told me.

CHOI: No. But you can tell from my eyes and my attitude that I mean it, Alzo, so don't worry. We do mean it.


CHOI: Here's my favorite part of the podcast. This show was brought to you by Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me. This episode was produced by Haley Fager, Zola Ray and Nancy Saechao, with help from Hoja Lopez, Blythe Roberson, Lillian King, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis this and the Wallowa Lake Monster. Our supervising producer is Jennifer Mills. And our Mikey-Mikey-Dan-Dan (ph) is Mike Danforth. Once again, Lorna White, thank you so much for helping us with our sound. Sound, Lorna. Lorna, sound. Judge Marilyn Milian, thank you for being the golden wizard of justice.

MILIAN: Tender and seasoned (laughter).

CHOI: Watch "The People's Court" weekdays, and follow her Instagram @thepeoplescourttv. Thanks to my co-host, comedian, Wait Wait panelist and future co-dinner party hoster Alzo Slade.

SLADE: I'm suing you for millions of dollars.

CHOI: Follow him on Instagram @alzoslade. That's A-L-Z-O-S-L-A-D-E. I'm Emma Choi, and you can find me @waitwaitnpr and sitting in a closet in rural Oregon. I just saw a cow. Yay, cows. OK. I'm done. This is NPR.

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