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What Smart Consumers Should Know About Warranties

By Statepoint



When buying electronics and appliances, we’ve all had salespeople ask, “Would you like to buy an extended warranty?” “Many consumers today do a lot of research online before they buy products, but don’t know much about warranties before entering the store,” says Jamie Breneman, contributor to and spokesperson for N.E.W. Customer Service Companies Inc. “The challenge is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about warranties and extended service plans.” Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision: {{more}}Limited or Extended? Most electronic goods come with limited manufacturers’ warranties, but coverage is minimal, mostly for defects in manufacturing or workmanship. If accidents happen, you’re out of luck. Moreover, coverage may be split between parts and labor. For example, coverage for parts may be for one year, but labor for 90 days. Extended “warranties,” more appropriately called extended service plans, go beyond defects in parts or workmanship. They often cover normal wear and tear, damage due to power surges or environmental factors like dust and heat. Many such plans, primarily on portable electronics, also cover accidental damage. Some will help you troubleshoot technical problems even if repair isn’t needed, giving you experts to contact any time of day or night when most manufacturers are closed. This is especially helpful if your children think gum is a good substitute for glue! Cost While limited warranties come free with the purchase of any electronic, extended service contracts usually cost between 10 and 20 percent of the product’s retail price since it adds additional value for longer periods of time. They’re often good investments when buying products that are expensive to repair, like plasma TVs, computers, appliances and video game consoles. You can probably forego the extended warranty on a $10 toaster. Convenience These days, time is money. Purchasing a service plan can be a huge time-saver. Not only do many offer 24/7 access to customer service representatives online or by phone, you can get many issues resolved on the first call through technical troubleshooting. This can be helpful when buying an electronic gift for a tech-phobic loved one, to make sure your present doesn’t give them major headaches. Read the Contract Before purchasing an extended service contract, there are several things to check, according to the experts at N.E.W., the leading independent administrator of buyer protection services. First, understand it isn’t the same as insurance. Nobody will replace your purchase if it’s lost, stolen or has excessive physical damage. And don’t purchase an extended service contract if the retailer doesn’t provide a copy of the terms prior to purchase. Once you are clear on the terms, make sure the name and contact of the contract provider is stated on the document. Keep the service contract paperwork, original receipt and all maintenance records in an easy-to-access location. And register with the plan provider online if you can.

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