When purchasing a tablet, smart TV, cell phone, or any expensive item this holiday season, there is a good possibility the extended warranty sales pitch will not be far behind. Before deciding to buy an extended warranty, Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to be “in the know” to make an informed decision. Offered by retailers for an additional fee, extended warranties provide coverage for big-ticket items such as electronics or home appliances. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 45 percent of shoppers purchased technology products during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend this year. Although an extended warranty may offer peace of mind and protection from expensive repairs, the cost may deter buyers as the warranty may not cover all costs associated with repairs. Before deciding to purchase an extended warranty, BBB recommends consumers be “in the know.”
- Know if there’s a manufacturer’s warranty. Electronic equipment and appliances usually come with a free manufacturer’s warranty, often for one year, that generally covers normal tear and wear. In addition, buying with a credit card can extend the manufacturer’s warranty. Check with your credit card company to see if they offer a warranty protection plan.
- Know when the extended warranty coverage starts and ends. Some extended warranties take effect the day of the purchase while others after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Consider extended warranties that start after the manufacturer’s warranty ends, so you don’t pay for double coverage during the initial period.
- Know what is covered. Ask for a copy of the extended warranty policy and take time to review it before making a decision. According to a U.S. News articleon extended warranties, “a good warranty on an electronic device should cover drops and spills – two of the most common causes of damage or destruction.” If you are unclear about the terms of the warranty, ask.
- Know what is not covered. The coverage should not have a large number of exclusions. If you have to pay out-of-pocket for certain repairs or if only specific types of damage are covered, it might not be worth the warranty.
- Know the item’s lifespan. It might not make sense to purchase 10-year coverage for an item that typically lasts five years. Consider the cost versus the reliability of a product. According to the Service Contract Industry Council, most extended warranties are 10 to 20 percent of the sales price; anything above 20 percent, might be too much.
- Know how to quickly access all warranty information. Retain receipts, product information, manufacturer’s warranty, extended warranty, contact information and any paperwork regarding product issues or claims. Keep all paperwork easily accessible.
- Know the extended warranty company’s background. Visit bbb.org to view a company’s rating, customer reviews and complaint history…before.