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Extended Warranty Purchases Up 10% This Year

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the one-born-every-minute-and-sometimes-several dept.

Businesses 253

Hugh Pickens writes "Consumer Reports says that most of the time, extended service contracts aren't worth the additional dollars. But the Washington Post reports that purchases of extended warranties are up 10 percent over last year, according to the Service Contract Industry Council, a trade group. Consumers 'tend to be more risk-averse and are less willing to absorb the cost of an unexpected product repair or replacement,' says Timothy Meenan, the council's executive director. Mark Kotkin, director of survey research for CR, acknowledges that there are instances when the extended warranty can be worth it. 'We recommend getting one for the Apple computer,' Kotkin says. 'The tech support that comes with the extended warranty is great. Without it, the tech support is skimpy.' Another product where extended warranties may be of use are giant television sets, where few manufacturers will come to your home to make warranty repairs. Extended service contracts for big screen TVs often offer in-home repair, says Meenan, who once shipped a Sony TV to the service center for repair under the manufacturer's warranty. 'They fixed it and brought it back 45 days later.'"

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You get what you pay for (1, Insightful)

PizzaAnalogyGuy (1684610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442088)

It makes sense really.

If you want better service and better quality, you pay a little more. Those who dont, get the main product a little bit cheaper, but not with the extra services it comes with. You pay more to be a premium customer.

This is best illustrated with a good example; Everyone of us go for a pizza sometimes. Many of us go to where the pizza is cheap, even if you know it's not really the best you can get. But it's good enough. However some of us want to go for the extra mile and spend a few dollars more to get really quality service. In those cases you won't be hearing "we're out of ham" or "sorry, we don't serve barbeque sauce with our pizzas". Pay a little bit extra and you get the best service and best ingredients without hearing they don't have them. And the customer support is a lot better - there's no any angry fat italian cook looking and yelling at you and throwing you out of the pizza place if you don't celebrate his pizza's taste. Instead, there's naked ladies serving you the pizzas, lovely and peaceful italian music and live performance. And everyone smiles and as a result you will be happier than ever, and have enjoyed the best pizza in the world, filled with bacon, ham, pineapple and barbeque sauce.

You get what you pay for.

Re:You get what you pay for (3, Insightful)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442102)

90 percent of extended warranty stuff is pure profit for the manufacturer.
All this means is the consumers are getting stupider.

Re:You get what you pay for (3, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442122)

You're probably thinking from the using it or not aspect. It's somewhat accounted in the prices; they don't ask for the full costs of giving such support because they know everyone won't use them. They just calculate how many will and adjust prices based on that.

ISP's work the same way too (and many more areas of industry). There's no way they can provide everyone constant maximum of bandwidth they sell, but it works out ok because not everyone are using the max bandwidth all the time (well, it works with ISP's outside US at least).

Personally I would pay a little extra to get better support and extra services. If you've already paid a high price for the product, you might as well spend a few dollars more on such and avoid shit if you happen to need those services.

Re:You get what you pay for (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442130)

To add to this, this is how whole insurance industry works..

Re:You get what you pay for (4, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442298)

Which is exactly why we need Extended Warranty Reform. Hopefully, Dear Leader will make this his next target.

Re:You get what you pay for (2, Informative)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442204)

Why not just charge the higher price and give everyone a longer warranty?

It's because that warranty isn't necessary, the lower price has enough profit and they can get enough suckers buying an extended warranty anyway.

You'd be better off putting that money towards a decent UPS which will actually do something to protect your electronics.

Re:You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442546)

It's because that warranty isn't necessary,

Like health insurance. You only need it when things go wrong. This is just TV/appliance insurance.

Re:You get what you pay for (2, Interesting)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442682)

I've found that if I don't buy the extended warranties on my electronics that I've more than made up for the cost of replacing any of them inside their normal service life due to unforeseen failures.

Re:You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442884)

Not really.

When your $1000 thing goes wrong, your $200 warranty fixes it, hopefully up to three, or even five years.

However most electronics fail within 1 month if they're going to fail, and then are fine until some design feature suddenly starts killing all of them off - this is the bathtub model of failure (high at beginning, then very low, then high again).

When you pay your health insurance, you're hedging against that $30k/year cancer/crippling arthritis/etc treatment and all the associated costs of being ill. It's an annual fee, it goes up as you get older. You're not thinking "oh well, if it fails in year four, I'll just get another" because ... "it" == you! Most people will never get what they paid back in health insurance, but for some people, it is the difference between living and death - and people don't want to take that risk.

If my TV broke after two years, I'll just put it down as "oh well", and look at the victories - the stereo components, the PS3, the oven, the phone, etc.

Re:You get what you pay for (3, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442192)

It also means that the salesmen are getting more and more persistent on trying to push the "extended warranty" down your throat.

And that with no information about that many cases where you expect it to be valid invalidates the warranty anyway. Like when using your mobile phone while sweating...

Re:You get what you pay for (4, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442476)

I own a mobile phone store in Australia. Extended warranty and insurance are two products that the mobile phone provider is heavily pushing, offering commissions and minimum targets.

I can also say that extended warranty and insurance is essentially free money for the providers. If an electronic item does not break within 12 months on its own, the chances of a warranty-covered issue arising in the 12-24 month or later period is so low that it can be ignored. I don't think I've *ever* serviced a customer with an error that was not user-caused (i.e., outside warranty coverage) after the 12 month mark.

Extended warranty is nothing but an unmitigated rip off.

Re:You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442270)

I used to think that way and never get the warranty, but these days the sales people give you 'gifts' for taking it. Basically, they give you a 80$ gift for a 100$ warranty. Then it becomes much more likely you'll get the warranty (assuming you need the gift they offer). For me, the latest extended warranty was with my PS3, they offered a 2nd controller with the warranty for just 10$ more than the normal price of the controller. 10$ for some peace of mind? Sure.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442680)

I used to think that way and never get the warranty, but these days the sales people give you 'gifts' for taking it. Basically, they give you a 80$ gift for a 100$ warranty. Then it becomes much more likely you'll get the warranty (assuming you need the gift they offer). For me, the latest extended warranty was with my PS3, they offered a 2nd controller with the warranty for just 10$ more than the normal price of the controller. 10$ for some peace of mind? Sure.

Two points:

In such cases, read the fine print. While the salesperson may say "you get a new one" the warranty often only paysup to your cost of the device if repairs are more than the purchase price. So if your receipt shows a lower purchase price (due to a full price warranty and discount on the device) you will only get the lower price back; usually as a gift card.

OTOH, some warranties can be returned within a set period for a full refund. Get the discount, return the warranty later.

Re:You get what you pay for (2, Interesting)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442310)

I worked for a PC manufacturer for a while. The margins on extended warranties are higher than on anything else, even than on catalog upgrades.

Also, warranties are rarely benchmarked. Well, quality isn't even benchmarked, but the experiences I've had with basic warranties (Asus never followed up on a procedure I started for a failed MB, Dell made me kneel below a desk to ... check out a PC that was supposedly covered by on-site service ...), those don't make me want to pay more for more crap.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442350)

I got the HD and the screen replaced on my HP notebook during the 3 years warranty period. The replacement of the HD wasn't really needed because the system malfunction turned out being due to a Windows hiccup (and I upgraded to Linux) but they insisted to ship me a new part. Maybe they wanted to get rid of old 5400 rpm disks. The screen started to develop whitish spots close to the end of the 3rd year of warranty and a technician came to my home and replaced the screen with a new one. In both cases I only had to call the customer service and they sent me the parts and the technician. I was more than happy with the service so I bought another 1 year next business day warranty period.

Re:You get what you pay for (3, Interesting)

Mortaegus (1688452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442550)

It depends entirely upon the warranty provider and the terms within. Some of them really are worthwhile. Radio Shack had a great warranty about five years back (they've changed it now). And it used to be one of the best anywhere. Now, of all places, Officemax has a well thought out warranty offer. (Which I bought and used last year). Look at how the pricing is done, because that is where you can determine whether it is worth the extra purchase. They usually bracket the prices, in sections like $0-50 and $50-100 and so on. If the product is near the top of that bracket, it's going to give you the best warranty for your money. If it's in the middle, or near the lower end of the bracket, it probably would be best to walk away from it. I know it's hard, but if you read the terms and conditions, you can see precisely which ones are worth the money.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30443196)

Dell specifically tells you with their basic on-site warranty that they'll come and fix it after you've talked on the phone with someone and troubleshooted it. If you didn't wanna get on your hands and knees with them, then it would've cost an extra $50 for real on-site service.

I just got an Optiplex 360 with the 3-year basic on-site warranty, and I already utilized it for a bad stick of ram. They had me reseat the ram and troubleshoot a few other things, but the process (from dialing, waiting on hold, and finishing the call) took 25 minutes. I called early enough that we had someone come the same day too.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442422)

considering that I don't even see this washington post cite - I'm extremely skeptical that it went up even 10% in some way that would imply that this can be reliably tracked across all products that have extended warranties. I: would find such tracking to be a: impossible and b: grossly inaccurate. Some products have extended warranties included automatically and others have it as an option.

Really, a cite from within an industry says that it's own industry is running strong? Is this supposed to be a surprise?

This is like when MS says that sales are strong, or MPAA/RIAA says that the industry is dying, and fact is directly the opposite. There is no way to verify accurately.

People who buy extended warranties, etc are suckers and the companies are simply banking on that (and have an industry of making bank on said suckers). Of course this depends on the product as to whether it's more or less likely to fail.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442664)

Or products are getting shittier.

My HP laptop is starting to crap out after only 1.5 years of light use. The wireless card went out while it was under warranty. I had to spend a good 3 days on the phone for someone to call me back because the call center supervisors don't work on weekends. Then I had to threaten to sue them for a violation of their own policy when they tried to tell me that reformatting the system voided the warranty (a copy of the warranty hosted on HP's website proved otherwise). Now that it's out of warranty, the hard drive, the battery, and the left hinge are all broken/breaking.

As companies realize that they can spend less and less on parts and make crappier and crappier products, they're going to get more and more smart consumers that buy the extended warranty and then make the company pay to fix every little problem caused by their own greed.

Re:You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442820)

Here are some real figures from the UK (which is why I'm posting anonymously). This is for motor Gap Insurance (not exactly a warranty, but the idea is if your new car is written off, it pays the difference between the vehicle cost and the insurance companies "comprehensive" payout, which is a lot less because they call it a used car even if its only done 5 miles). A guy purchased a top-end BMW with lots of extras at about £50K and paid £1200 for the Gap cover (can't remember the period, but its irrelevant). The £1200 went to the dealer; the dealer "buys" is from, in effect, a wholesaler, who charges the dealer about £500. In turn the wholesaler pays the underwriter about £50. So, the mark up from underwriter (the insurer) to the car owner is £1150 on something that started at £50.

Then again, anyone who spends £50K on a car deserves to be ripped off for every penny. View it as a form of socialist wealth redistribution:)

Re:You get what you pay for (3, Funny)

JoshWurzel (320371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442168)

I would like to know where you're going for pizza...

Re:You get what you pay for (-1, Troll)

sbbshoe168 (1700834) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442728)

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Re:You get what you pay for (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 4 years ago | (#30443052)

Who said anything about pizza?!

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442442)

Your non-car analogy is not welcome here.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442622)

a car analogy is like a pizza, so by the transitive property, we should get a pizza, which, like, might involve driving a car.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30443042)

Your analogies brighten my day like an unexpected second pizza.

ohyeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442106)

woohoo. smart idea

Not worth the money? (5, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442108)

If I buy a device and it doesn't break, is the extended warranty useless?

I don't think so. The whole point is that _if_ I have a bad device I can get it repaired. Peace of mind has value too.

It's not like my home insurance is useless just because no one has burglarized us and we haven't had any fires...

Re:Not worth the money? (5, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442176)

I never accept those extended offers; If you have a bad device and it breaks within the reasonable period that you may expect it to work you don't need the extended warranty.
If you expect to beat the insurance company at a game they set up themselves you might be better off gambling with the insurance premium in a casino.

Re:Not worth the money? (4, Interesting)

beuges (613130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442280)

Except that the standard warranty generally doesn't last as long as you would reasonably expect the product to work. Notebook computers usually come with a standard 1 year warranty, but I would reasonably expect a notebook to continue working for at least 3 years. My personal notebook is well over 2 years old and still works fine, however, thanks to the extended warranty that I purchased, I got a new screen yesterday because of a column of blue pixels that suddenly showed up last week.

Unless you make a habit of replacing all of your devices every year, the extended warranty is often useful, depending on the device. I use my notebook every day, all day, and the extended warranty was worth the peace of mind knowing that I would only need to replace it after a minimum of 3 years - it's insured against theft and accidental damage, and the extended warranty covers device faults and failures. Without it, I'd probably have had to buy a new notebook in the next few weeks/months, depending on how annoying the screen fault became.

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442360)

That depends on what country you buy the laptop in. I've never bought an extended warranty here in the UK, since the law requires stuff to last "a reasonable time". (That time is left for a court to decide, but for a laptop it would probably be 3-4 years.)

This is one of the main reasons why electronics are more expensive here.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442466)

I've always wondered why electronics were so expensive in the UK/Europe. That makes total sense.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442838)

Here in Finland, the law requires the manufacturer to provide a 2-year warranty for many common types of consumer electronics/appliances.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442658)

As mentioned by others: A reasonable time is set by law and depends on the price of the product; 3 years for a laptop is normal but for a (new) house the warranty period for construction errors may extend to 20 years.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442178)

I've had good luck and have used pretty much every one I've ever bought, but I discovered something interesting. If the product is replaced under warranty, it effectively 'fulfills' the warranty obligation, and you may need to buy a new one for the new product. This may vary by store and country, but it's something to watch out for.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442182)

It's a statistics and probability problem.

If a device breaks, what would be the cost to have it repaired without the warranty? and what are the probabilities for the device to break between the end of base warranty and the end of extended warranty?

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Insightful)

addsalt (985163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442722)

It's a statistics and probability problem. If a device breaks, what would be the cost to have it repaired without the warranty? and what are the probabilities for the device to break between the end of base warranty and the end of extended warranty?

You don't even need to actually work out the math - it's been done for you (by the people offering the extended warranties).

Re:Not worth the money? (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442208)

Like all other kinds of insurance, the only question is whether you have the capital to pay for the risk. Insurance is a simple transaction, in which you pay someone else to provide the capital necessary to cover you in case of some bad event taking place. It's worth it to you since you don't need to have this available capital.

The expected direct monetary cost of insurance (premium minus expected payout) has to be negative, or the insurance company won't be making money. In other words, you must pay them more than the product of the probability of the outcome times the damage. Insurance nevertheless has positive value since this comparison (permium vs payout) only makes sense to someone who has the resources to make the payout.

Thus it's a good idea to insure your house -- if it burned down you probably don't have the money to buy yourself a new one, so instead you pay the insurance company to have money to buy you a new house. However, buying warranty for most electronics is a waste -- why not act as your own insurer, cutting the middleman and saving on the premium? People who buying electronics so expensive they cannot cannot afford to pay to fix or replace should consider insurance -- but precisely because insurance only makes sense for big-ticket items, the effect of an economic downturn and concern about future finances should be to reduce purchases, not to make the purchases and then add insurance.

Re:Not worth the money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442276)

It's also a quantity problem. on ten computers, the saving are worth a eleventh.
The apple care for a macbook is 250$, that mean one computer worth in four apple care. If you plan to buy more than that computer in your life, then it's always cheaper to skip insurances costs.
An house however is almost an one off purchase - as even when you change one you resell the previous one. That's where an insurance makes sense.

--
It's a post on the internet. Do not take this as unquestionable advice. I may not held liable f you being an idiot, so send your lawyers somewhere else.

Re:Not worth the money? (-1, Offtopic)

zMaile (1421715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442318)

Couldn't have said it better myself. If only i had mod points. . .

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442366)

Except that if your house actually burns down, they first employ a dozen professional detectives to make up something... anything... to blame you, similar to the “pre-existing condition“ “excuse”, and pay you... nothing at all.

And then you can’t even end the contract, because of a minimum duration of half a century or something.

I never had a insurance (except where forced by law), and I’ll never get one. (Yes, I got as far as to say, that if that causes me to die, that was OK.)

Not a very convincing argument (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442762)

"I never had a insurance (except where forced by law)"

Somehow I don't think your observations about insurance are based on experience.

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Insightful)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442382)

Time also plays a role in the deal: I can have a technician repairing my pc in a day or go out and buy a new one and spend hours reinstalling everything. The cost of my time could be on par with the cost of the hardware.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442764)

precisely because insurance only makes sense for big-ticket items, the effect of an economic downturn and concern about future finances should be to reduce purchases, not to make the purchases and then add insurance.

We are where we are (in a downturn following a bubble) exactly because the vast majority of people does not act in a rational way.

It's thus hardly surprising that most people react the way they do. Instead of curtailing their purchases, they follow the same old habits of unthinking consumerism (the same ones from one or two years ago that meant that people spent more than they earned and which inflated the bubble that just burst) were they "really have to have that brand new plasma TV", so they:
- Buy the TV instead of postponing the purchase.
- Buy themselves some piece of mind by paying for insurance in the form of an extended warranty.

PS: Interestingly enough, governments keep pushing the "spend, spend, spend" message as the way to pull us out of the recession. The "interesting" part is that, taken to it's natural conclusion the "spend, spend, spend" will inflate a bubble just like the last one followed by a recession just like the current one ...

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442234)

In some parts of the world, consumer protection laws would ensure you get a bad device repaired regardless, on either the store or the manufacturer's dime. This includes several parts of the US that have enacted "lemon laws". Lemme put it another way, why would you buy a product that's so unreliable that the shop's desperate to get you to buy a warranty on it? Find someone reliable and buy their product instead. If you're willing to put up with shoddy products as a matter of course, then they're just going to keep putting out self-destructing garbage.

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Informative)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442292)

I my case I have a family of six. So say we buy a washer for 1000€. If I can pay a little more and have warranty for four years instead of two it just makes sense. Even a high quality product can break early from the strain of being used far more than the average. (With four kids in daycare we wash at least one machinefull a day.)

Finland has excellent consumer protection laws, a faulty product I can always get replaced. But failure due to wear and tear is not something covered under those laws.

So sometimes it just makes sense to pay for an extended warranty. Especially when I know I don't have to worry about having to buy a new one for two years longer.

Like I said, peace of mind has a value too... :)

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442308)

Indeed, there are exceptions where it's worthwhile, like home appliances. Given that this is a tech site, those didn't occur to me. ;)

Re:Not worth the money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442396)

In some countries the law includes wear and tear though, or at least what would be expected over a reasonable length of time. I have even had a case where the reasonable length of time worked out to be longer than the extended warranty. (wasn't aware of this at the time of purchase though)

iMacs, I will not go without extended on mine (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442410)

I am on my second iMac now, since Apple finally made one I wanted to upgrade too. The first one convinced me that the extended warranty is required. My old white iMac got the black screen of death 29 months after it was made (I bought it used a little over six months old). When I purchased it the original owner had the three year extended warranty on it.

Approximate $1300 for the main board and $300 for the daughter card (7600gt). The bill didn't include the labor cost. The final total was zero because it was under warranty. If this had not been covered it would have been cheaper to buy a new one.

I look at the warranties this way, what is your impulse buying threshold and what is your "I can afford that" threshold. Very similar to how you buy insurance for home, auto, and such. What is the amount your willing to be out if case something goes wrong. For me that stops at $500 minus the cost of the extended warranty. So its a $700 item and the warranty is over $200 I won't get it.

If you finance it, insure it or get a warranty. Don't bother with extended warranties on cars and if you must, only from the manufacturer

Re:iMacs, I will not go without extended on mine (5, Insightful)

Rotting (7243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442614)

The problem I have with buying an extended warranty on a mac is that they are already charging a premium for the hardware. If they expect me to pay that then I expect them to deliver a product that is engineered to last. We all know they are using fairly standard pc hardware now though so that expectation is a little unreasonable. I suppose it's for this reason that I have a problem with being expected to pay an additional $200 so my overpriced hardware is covered should something go wrong... or maybe I'm just cheap.

Re:iMacs, I will not go without extended on mine (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30443122)

Damn right.

My next monitor is a Samsung, simply because they offer a three year warranty on their monitors. If it broke after three years, I would be annoyed, but at least I would have got three years use out of it. Why should I buy a monitor with a one year warranty? Especially since the Samsung monitors are pretty good overall anyway (I'm just waiting for a P2370HD monitor with DVB-T2 built-in (current one only has DVB-T, but UK is using DVB-T2 for HD Freeview)).

A premium product should have a premium warranty included by default, to show that it isn't just overpriced tat. To be honest with Apple if the computer broke, I would invoke my rights under the sales of good act, which mandates that a product should work for a reasonable amount of time (up to six years) after purchase.

Anyway, Macs seem to have a 1:10 fail rate at most (including year one, which surely has the highest figures), from various stories published over the past year. That means the warranty would have to be 1/10th of the product cost to be worthwhile, consolidated over time.

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Informative)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442428)

Have you actually been able to save and locate receipts and warranty papers for some random device you bought 2 years ago? I can't find a receipt after 2 months. After 1 year the thermal receipts really begin to deteriorate. Sometimes they're unreadable after 2 years. Without the receipts, forget it, you don't have insurance even if you paid for it.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442588)

Have you actually been able to save and locate receipts and warranty papers for some random device you bought 2 years ago? I can't find a receipt after 2 months. After 1 year the thermal receipts really begin to deteriorate

Simple solution: buy a cheap home file [amazon.co.uk] and use it, and photocopy or scan thermal receipts whilst they're still readable.

Re:Not worth the money? (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442802)

Yes, I have this thing called a filing system... ;)

It's either in the in-pile, in the warranty-receipts -folder, or in the receipts 200X folder.

Re:Not worth the money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442756)

Whether or not it is useful is not the entire question. The extended warranty is a gimmick used by retailers to increase profits without giving the consumer something of equal value in return. If an independent insurance agency were to offer extended warranties on consumer appliances based on accurate statistics, they would not cost nearly as much.

There is no way to avoid the reality. With extended warranties the customer is getting scalped.

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442892)

There is no way to avoid the reality. With extended warranties the customer is getting scalped.

Not if I value my peace of mind highly enough to pay the extended warranty just because of that. I never made the argument it makes financial sense. But for me it might still make emotional sense. ;)

Re:Not worth the money? (2, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30443056)

It's interesting to see the different perspective here on Slashdot to that I'm used to in the UK.

Here in the UK, if a product breaks in an unreasonable timeframe, you don't have to worry about having a warranty to cover you, if the product was not fit to last it's reasonable lifetime (say, 5 years for something like a DVD player) then you have a right to replacement or repair. The caveat is that after the first 6 months it's upto you to prove you didn't break it, but for electrical goods this is a fairly trivial case of getting an electrician from a repair shop to just write you a quick note stating that's the case. Most retailers wont bother you with this though if it occurs within say, the first 3 years or so and I've never heard a case of them challenging a replacement/repair request within the first year or so for electronic gadgets and such. In the first 6 months they can only challenge the replacement if you're clearly at fault for the damage (i.e. if the gadget has coke all over it for example), otherwise it's upto you to choose whether you want a replacement/repair, or simply a refund for that period.

So in the UK, I wouldn't buy an extended warranty for peace of mind, because I have peace of mind that if I look after my product properly then I'm not going to be shelling out for a repair anyway.

To me this system makes sense, to put the onus on the manufacturer to produce quality products, else you're just encouraging companies to sell shit products so that they can sell you the extended warranty to go with it. They might as well produce quality products for the UK market because they'll only end up shouldering the costs anyway. You're also leaving the door open for dodgy extended warranties that companies try and get out of fulfilling despite you having paid for them due to hidden clauses and such, but when it's law they have little choice but to adhere.

The only reason I'd pay for one in the UK is if I suspected there might be a risk of accidental damage on my behalf, the only thing I can think of in that respect might be my phone if I accidently dropped it, but even that I don't pay for insurance on and take the risk, one day it may come back to bite me, but the amount I'll have saved in not paying it will more than cover the cost of buying a new handset anyway.

I have 3 extended warranties (1)

JoshWurzel (320371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442210)

Interestingly, they are the two mentioned (big screen TV and Apple computer) and my car.

The first two pay for themselves. I had to replace my TV for some backlight issue and the Apple tech support for 3 years is really handy.

The third was a colossal waste, because I drive a Honda.

does anyone else smell potential fraud? (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442214)

some extended warranties are a bit vague on the coverages or skimpy on the limitations, which means that more "failures" slip through the gaping holes coughbestbuycough

maybe it's just me, but i expect that many people will experience a significant number of "failures" with these products.

It's the recession (1, Troll)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442228)

Everyone feels their dollar is worth more now that the economy is crap. So they think they're doing the smart thing by protection their already expensive purchase but they're just wasting their money.

Extended warranties are like lottery tickets in that the poor and stupid buy 'em up like they're going out of style.

Contradictory example in the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442230)

On the one hand it says extended warranty is good for TVs. On the other hand it says the manufacturer took 45 days to repair without one. The latter actually sounds like the best that could happen to you.

Once you are forced to live a few days or weeks without a TV, you'll suddenly realise how little you need it and how much time you've wasted watching it.

Not buying an extended warranty can save you the money for the warranty AND the subscription fee for your TV company AND future TV set expenses AND an excessive amount of time.

Re:Contradictory example in the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442334)

You've seen it before: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28694

Good enough (2, Insightful)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442266)

Computers are getting to the point of "good enough" for the current technological cycle. This means people won't be shelling out hundreds of dollars every three years for a new computer when their old computer is good enough and in good shape thanks to an extended warranty.

Re:Good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442696)

I think it's the opposite, hardware is getting good enough, that by the time it breaks your ready for a new computer anyway so there is no need to waste money on an extended warranty. Also if something is going to break it is normally due to a defect and so breaks early and is covered by the standard warranty

Re:Good enough (1)

guytoronto (956941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442808)

Computers will never be "good enough". Just like 640k wasn't. 486 DX2/66 wasn't. 10GB HD wasn't. 17" monitor wasn't. Over and over again history has taught us that the top of the line computer from three years ago whimpers like a little baby in the corner of the room today.

Re:Good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442852)

Very true, but let's be honest. Apple users will buy each new model regardless of whether it actually offers anything new and windows users generally find to cheaper to replace their machines than pay someone to clear out all the malware and junk turning their latest machine into a 486. Gamers evolve their machines and love to build new hot devices. There's really no slowdown in sales here, except in the office environment.

By some countries' laws, they're useless (4, Informative)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442290)

By some countries' laws, these extended warranties are mostly useless. Under Dutch law, a product is expected to work for a couple of years. Customers who return with a broken device after two years are still entitled to a working device. A negotiation should take place between the seller and the buyer, and one outcome could be a repair, for which the costs cannot be too high.

Some chains like MediaMarkt have put this negotiation down to a few rules and customers are protected by these. On the other hand, international chains like Apple have been found guilty for refusing Dutch customers help with their broken device just outside the warranty.

Re:By some countries' laws, they're useless (1)

1stvamp (662375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442374)

I believe this is actually EU law, however -> [citation needed].

Re:By some countries' laws, they're useless (2, Informative)

cgomezr (1074699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442560)

In Spain we also have a law like that, but in practice it's totally useless: in theory you should have warranty for two years (or even three, I can't remember); but then the law says that after the first year the burden of proof of not having broken/misused the item is on the customer. Obviously it's impossible to prove that you haven't misused the item, so the law doesn't work and the companies just ignore you if you invoke it. I guess you could get a refund in court, but that's as always, we laymen don't have (or aren't willing to spend) time/resources to go to court, so people just keep buying extended warranties.

I personally try to buy things that have a warranty of at least 3 years by default, since this seems to indicate that the manufacturer is somewhat confident that it won't break. For example Thinkpad laptops have cheap models with 1 year warranty by default, and more expensive models with 3 years warranty. I buy the latter.

Re:By some countries' laws, they're useless (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442596)

Under EU law, you may be entitled to a working device, however, you may find out that the level of service is much worse than when you had an extended service contract. Like waiting two months for a repair, compared to a week.

A lot of people don't realise... (5, Informative)

GrubLord (1662041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442294)

... that those Gold and Platinum credit cards they're collecting 'reward points' on also oftentimes provide extended warranty on purchases made with said credit card.

Before you shell out for an extra year or two of warranty, try reading through the terms and conditions of your favourite rewards card. Chances are, you can get that extra year or so of peace of mind for free.

My rule of thumb... (2, Interesting)

BlueWaterBaboonFarm (1610709) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442296)

My rule of thumb is anything that can be 'self insured' should be. For example, I don't insure my own truck (about $5000) if it's wrecked*. I know that if this happens I can buy a new one with my savings. Not ideal but that's how life goes. All the money I would be spending on insurance goes towards my savings/investments.

However, my house is insured. If it was burnt, I'd be in tough financial shape. I can't 'self insure' it. *if I hit someone else, they are insured.

There are things it's wise to insure (2, Interesting)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442314)

It's probably wise for someone to insure their TV (as that is all the Extended warranty is really) if it was rather expensive, but there are a few things that I will not purchase the warranty for, and have been pressured by sales people.

MP3 players (they're small, portable, likely to break, but honestly, you can buy a half decent one for 20 quid)
Digital Cameras (The home-market ones, not the Professional level ones.)
PCs and peripherals (Myself, personally, if shit goes wrong with my PC I know how to fix it, I don't need some tit 100 miles away replacing every component and wiping the OS when I know it's a driver issue)

Honestly, I got pressured by a bloke in Curry's about getting Extended warranty on a £15 USB Mouse that cost twice as much as the mouse itself. I've been using it for 7 years and it's still perfectly fine (and it's by Microsoft :O)
Same with my MP3 player (5 years) and my phone (3 years so far, and only a bit of the front casings come loose, Sellotape FTW). My last phone fared less well, it lasted two months, but I *did* slam it in a car door. Accidents happen, but the phone only cost £20 and it was PAYG so I only lost about £3 in credit.

Sample selection bias? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442348)

A recession will knock out the marginal purchasers, but those rich enough to purchase it could also be risk averse.

As the tide moves out, the barnacles appear to move up the jetty post.

Applecare is worth it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442358)

I've purchased extended warranties on prefab PCs before, from BestBuy, CompUSA, and Frys over the years and sort of felt cheated at the end. Not because the machines didn't break, but because I violated at least 10 stipulations in the warranty contract by year 1. Things like breaking the seal and popping in all kinds of hardware inside of it; replacing original parts with better parts, wiping the HDD (along with backups) and dual booting it, etc.

I could never take the frankenPC to the store and ask for any warranty. The nature of the scam in these retarded contracts is that they require you keep all kinds of things intact, plus have the warranty papers, the original sales receipt, and the same OS it shipped with.

With Apple you have the serial stamped on the hardware and inside the magic ROM thingie. Take it to the store and they'll punch it in and make the necessary repairs. And they try to fuck you over like the BestBuys of the world do, or ask you to "restore from Tiger" when Snow Leopard is the new cool thing.

Re:Applecare is worth it (2, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442972)

With Apple you have the serial stamped on the hardware and inside the magic ROM thingie. Take it to the store and they'll punch it in and make the necessary repairs. And they try to fuck you over like the BestBuys of the world do, or ask you to "restore from Tiger" when Snow Leopard is the new cool thing.

I just dropped off my almost 3-year old MacBook Pro to the Apple store a few days ago. The asked which OS I had installed on it and had no problem with the fact that Snow Leopard (the latest OS from around 2009) was installed. They just wanted to know which OS they had to dive into.

They asked if I changed any hardware "recently," and I said no (original RAM and harddrive). Had I replaced something non-user replaceable (like the HDD on the MacBook Pro) then I'm sure they might have made a fuss.

In the end it's either the CPU or motherboard that's fried, so they had to ship it out to. I only had about 3 months left on the Apple Care.

Extended warranty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442384)

How can I lose! Together with investing in timeshares, lotto tickets, etc., what better investment is there?

Jealous and sorry at the same instant.... (1, Troll)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442386)

I'm both jealous of people who are so ridiculously well off that they can afford to throw money down that Rabbit Hole without a second thought, and at the same time sorry for the people who absolutely can't afford to do it but don't have the personal wherewithal or common sense to avoid it.

Re:Jealous and sorry at the same instant.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442632)

I juat got one on a bike.
$7 for 18 months. Seems reasonable. I would have paid up to $12 or so for it. Past that, i'll fix it myself.

Re:Jealous and sorry at the same instant.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442684)

Have you ever considered minding your own business and worrying about own financial plan?

Why extended warranties are useless (5, Informative)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442390)

It's not usually explained in articles like these, but extended warranties are useless because the product reliability tends to follow a "bathtub model". If you chart the number of expected repairs a product (y-axis) against time (x-axis), you'll see a large number of them initially (i.e., initial product failure) which quickly slopes downward towards zero and plateaus for several years. Then, many years out, you'll see that number quickly ramp up again (i.e., end of life product failure). Extended warranties aren't for that period of time, they're for the period of time when product reliability is highest.

Re:Why extended warranties are useless (1)

cgomezr (1074699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442608)

Do you think that is a general law? In my personal and subjetive experience (I don't have any reliable data, but neither do you in your post) it is the case for laptops, for example, but not for digital cameras. It seems pretty common for digital cameras to fail during the first year, the second, or well, pretty much any year.

This seems to be reflected on the prices of extended warranties, at least in my country the extended warranty for a laptop may add something like 10% to the price, but the extended warranty for a camera may very well add 50%.

Re:Why extended warranties are useless (1)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442670)

Hmm I would lean towards it being a "general law", otherwise extended warranties wouldn't be so profitable, now would they?

Re:Why extended warranties are useless (1)

guytoronto (956941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442812)

If I can have piece of mind for three years for a couple hundred bucks, I'm okay with that.

More than just an Insurance Question (2, Informative)

klahnako (209184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442398)

My biggest consideration when getting one of these warranties is how long it will be gone for repair. Look at the fine print to find how long the company has to make the repair. It has been my experience that the maximum allowed time *will* be the time it takes to repair. Can you go that long without your device? I know I can not wait the requisite 60/90 days, so I do not purchase the warranties.

pick & choose (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442444)

I tend to steer well clear of these things but do occassionally take out extended warrenty for items more likely to break. I was an early adopter of LCD TVs and took out a 3 year warrenty and sure enough, 2 years down the line, it died and I got a new (better - w00t!) one which has been fine since. I recently upgraded to a new Samsung from John lewis (UK) who do a free 5 year warranty on all TVs which is cool.
Generally, anything with moving parts that might fail, I tend to get extended warranty and to date, I've been lucky (?) inasmuch as the device died during the extended warranty so it wa smoney well spent.
Luckily, in the UK you get aminimum of 1year anyway and potentially a further year under EU rules but most retailers are ignorant of the newer rules and try to kick pack (but fail).

Most people are already protected under law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442480)

In most countries there is a law like Australia's Trade Practices Act that allows you to return a defective item that is not "fit for purpose" to the retailer for a refund. Thus the problem of broken equipment is between the retailer and the manufacturer.

If the retailer arcs up, as they sometimes do, that's what the small claims court is for. They pretty much always find in favour of the consumer for reasonable claims.

I'm amazed to hear that the USA doesn't have this level of consumer protection.

Respect goes to ebuyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442484)

I recently bought a 37" full HD from ebuyer. It was one of their own brands, that is to say, a no-name that they buy from the far east and rebrand here in the UK, sold exclusively by ebuyer.

The problem with this is, when it broke, 2 months after purchase, I couldnt find a single website or support number for this brand of TV. I called up ebuyer and they took care of everything. After I described the problem they came and collected it, and within a week I had a brand new TV as a replacement.

As far as I could tell they didnt offer to sell me an extended warranty. The TV is under manufacturer (ebuyer) warranty for 3 years.

Credit Cards (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442604)

A number of tehm automatically double the manufacturer's warranty, so for many items buying an extended warranty is pretty much duplication of existing coverage.

Re:Credit Cards (1)

bryansj (89051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442870)

I've used this a few time already on my Visa. It worked out well and it give up to an extra year on a product purchased in full with the card. You submit the receipt, product warranty, and credit card statement show the purchase along with the cost of repair or replacement. They will send you a check for the lesser of either the original purchase price or repair/replacement cost. I've replaced a Harmony 890 remote twice using this warranty, a dead external HDD, and had a laptop repair after its warranty had expired. One thing that I found interesting was that the Circuit City (R.I.P.) Visa card that you used for the not interest purchases was eligible for the warranty coverage. I would turn down their warranty and tell them that I'm already getting an extra year using their card.

Bought one on my new washer... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442606)

After my 5 year old washer died, and they wanted $126 service call plus $170/hr plus $350 for the part to repair it, it was cheaper just to buy a new one.

I've not had a washer last 5 years in my lifetime, so I figure if I could just "pre-buy" a new one for $280, as I did with my new $900 LG washer, it's worth it. Repair is not an option because for some reason, fixing a washer costs $170/hr for labor and astronomical dollars for parts.

Stupid Stupid Stupid (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442618)

I once had an Office Max employee try and sell me an extended warranty on a mouse pad, which wasn't even $10. If my mouse pad somehow managed to malfunction (seriously?), buying a new one would be cheaper than paying for a damned warranty. Recently, I purchased a Nikon D300 and a 13" MacBook Pro, about 2 months apart from each other, at BestBuy. In each case they attempted to sell me the extended warranty, but gave me 14 days within which to think about it. I told them I'd think about it, then just left, but there was no way they were going to bilk me for an extra $2-300 when the purchase was expensive enough. I'm careful with things, and I can afford to replace them if necessary anyway.

Asus G1S (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442648)

I've got an Asus G1S. Originally it had an Nvidia 8600M graphics chip which failed. First time it happened they swapped the motherboard for another one with an 8600M. Next time they swapped it for a motherboard with a 9500M GT. Both swaps were free, even though the replacement motherboards are probably pretty expensive. At that point I was quite close to the end of the two year warranty so I asked if they'd sell me an extended warranty. Needless to say they declined. Mind you the 9500M GT is supposed not to have the defect the 8600M had.

Still there are cases where an extended warranty makes sense. Still efficient companies don't sell products where it does.

Extended warranties are mostly profit (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30442660)

I worked on a data migration project for a major insurance company. As part of that project one of the Business Analysts was asked to give us an over view of the business model represented in the systems we were handling. He started his talk by stating that their most profitable line was the type of insurance which people are asked to take out when they make a purchase. He observed that the customer was rarely able to claim because of the way in which the warranty was worded, and that often the retailer made more money from the warranty than they did from sale of the product. We all laughed. Ha ha.

Since then I have not taken out a warranty of any kind on any product. If it breaks then so what. I have saved more over the years than I might loose from the replacement of repair cost of something breaking.

Consumers, or salespeople? (1)

beatsme (1472991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442740)

Maybe this has less to do with consumers, and more to do with the pressure salespeople are under to sell extended warranties (i.e. Best Buy, where I've heard each salesperson has a quota to meet)? As a salesperson, and if I were morally bankrupt, I would certainly use the recession to persuade a customer to get a warranty.

Its purchasing a quality drop option... (2, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442782)

Consumers 'tend to be more risk-averse and are less willing to absorb the cost of an unexpected product repair or replacement,' says Timothy Meenan, the council's executive director.

Sounds pretty bogus to me. My logic in buying an extended warranty is its an option on low quality. Has the quality of the product dropped enough to now make the warranty a good deal? In the past, sure, it was a ripoff, but now the papers are full of stories about junk from china, inedible food, lead paint on everything, etc. And everyone has the experience of buying something from China-Mart that instantly falls apart or is simply unsuitable for any purpose.

Would I buy an extended warranty on a Milwaukee Tools Inc genuine made in America Sawzall, from perhaps the 1980s? No, that would have been a waste, that saw will run until my great grandkids use it. Note, Milw Tool website declares they're now a "globalized" company so I would assume (perhaps incorrectly) that they only ship Chinese trash now, I'm referring to the products from the good old days. Would I buy an extended warranty on a generic sun-moon-star Inc reciprocating saw from china that doesn't even have instructions in English nor a genuine UL listing? Heck Yeah, that thing probably won't even last thru one complete job!

So the real focus of the story isn't some "adsorbing cost" BS, it is a story about downscaling quality because of lack of spending money. Store brand, or generic, instead of the real deal. And even the real deal is all outsourced to the point of uselessness.

They are very aggressive (2, Interesting)

GauteL (29207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442788)

Last year I bought a freezer. Recently, just as the warranty ran out I received a letter urging me to buy a £35 three year extended warranty for it for "peace of mind". The letter told me that replacing the engine on it could cost as much as £100. Given that the freezer only cost me £95 to begin with, I wasn't impressed.

When I didn't respond to this shambolic offer,
the insurance company sent me another letter to reinforce how important it is for me to "protect my investment".

I'm pretty sure there are people around who do go for these offers, otherwise why would the insurance company even bother?

It's about the sellers, as well as the buyers (1)

1sockchuck (826398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442800)

The increased sales of warranties are driven by the difficulties faced by electronics retailers. In an environment where there are fewer customers, stores look to increase the revenue per customer, and the easiest way to do that it to pressure sales associates to sell more warranties. It's an emotional decision ... the conversation takes place at the checkout counter, and rarely in a context where the shopper can take time to make a reasoned, fact-based decision. The desire to get extended life out of the product is no doubt providing an incremental sales boost. But the upsell is getting more forceful, and that's certainly about the economic concerns about the retailer, not the consumer.

Re:It's about the sellers, as well as the buyers (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442888)

stores look to increase the revenue per customer, and the easiest way to do that it to pressure sales associates to sell more warranties. It's an emotional decision ... the conversation takes place at the checkout counter, and rarely in a context where the shopper can take time to make a reasoned, fact-based decision.

One of the MANY reasons shopping online is better than brick and mortar. I no longer buy "technology items" at B+M stores for this reason, I'm simply tired of arguing with minimum wage clowns about not paying $30 for an extended warranty on a $5 mouse.

Check you state laws (1)

majesty2180 (622090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30442896)

This was mentioned in an earlier reply from a Slashdotter in Australia, but I live in the US (ME), and we have similar legislation. We have a state law called the "Implied Warranty Act", where all goods, including used goods (except used cars, unless otherwise contracted by the seller), are protected for 4 years from date of purchase from manufacturing maladies. This is to say, as long as the item is used normally from day to day, the manufacturer is responsible for the costs at a LOCAL repair facility. For instance, my father has a 3 year old microwave (major brand over the range model) in which the magnetron went bad. Since he is protected by this law, it cost him nothing but time to get the microwave repaired.
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