Warranties Can Save You Money: Learn How to Take Advantage

A few months ago, I woke up to an unexpected and terrible surprise—my electric gooseneck kettle had stopped working. I couldn’t make my preferred method of pour-over coffee. I searched through my receipts and found that my kettle was almost one year out of warranty. Instead of attempting to file a claim, I posted on the manufacturer’s forums for troubleshooting help.

To my surprise, after providing proof of my purchase, the manufacturer honored its warranty and provided a replacement kettle at no charge. My morning pour-over resumed, and all was well.

While I may have lucked out in this case, filing a warranty claim can, for the most part, be easy. However, it’s important to first understand the different types of warranties before you file a claim.

Types of Warranties

Standard Warranties

According to the Federal Trade Commision, the law recognizes two types of warranties: implied warranties and express warranties.

  • Implied warranties are dictated by state law and essentially exist to hold manufacturers accountable to the promise their product will do what it is designed to do.
  • Express warranties are explicit, written or spoken claims made by a manufacturer or retailer. If your purchase comes with an express warranty, read the details and disclaimers carefully. Use the product as instructed in order to preserve your warranty.

Extended Warranties and Other Consumer Protections

When you purchase a home appliance or television, your retailer will typically present an offer to extend the warranty for a certain price. Keep in mind that these “extended warranties” are actually considered service contracts. These plans may supplement the manufacturer’s limited warranty by offering protection for a longer time period or for additional problems, like accidental damage.

Dough Roller founder Rob Berger is not a fan of extended warranties, and in Tip #83 of 100 Ways to Improve your finances in 10 minutes, he recommends to “only insure what you can’t afford to replace.” This is definitely a good rule of thumb. Here are few factors to take into account when deciding to purchase an extended warranty:

  • Cost
  • Plan coverage period
  • Depreciation of the product during the coverage period
  • Deductible to file claim
  • Ease of filing a claim
  • Time to repair/replace warrantied product
  • Damaged product replacements are usually done in the form of a refurbished product.  Can you buy an equivalent refurbished product for the same price as a warranty replacement?

Let’s take a look at an example:

  1. You paid $500 for your new smartphone
  2. You pay $119 for a 2-year extended warranty
  3. After 1 year and 11 months, your smartphone breaks
  4. The process to file the warranty replacement claim is fairly easy, but you have to pay a $99 deductible
  5. You get your phone back in 5-7 business days, but you realize that it’s the same 2-year-old phone model, and now it’s a refurbished phone.  
  6. You search online and find that a refurbished version of that same phone now sells for $218 with free next-day shipping, which is the same price you paid in total for your extended warranty. Was your extended warranty worth it? Probably not.

Every situation is different, so I recommend evaluating all of the above factors before making your decision on whether or not to purchase an extended warranty. If you decide an extended warranty is right for your situation, keep in mind the retailer’s plan may not be your only option. Do some additional digging online to see if you can get a better extended warranty deal elsewhere.

Third Party Extended Warranty

SquareTrade is one of the most well-known third parties offering extended warranties, and they often offer more value in their plans than those offered by retailers. Before purchasing an extended warranty, look into third parties like this one to see if you can find a better deal.

Free Extended Warranties

  • Credit Cards, such as Chase Ink Cash and American Express, offer an additional 1-year manufacturer’s warranty for most products purchased with your credit card. As an added bonus, these cards offer 2-3 months’ worth of accidental damage protection. Here are more credit cards that offer extended warranties.
  • Costco Concierge Services offers a minimum 2-year (total) extended warranty for major electronics and appliances, in addition to free technical support for most electronics purchased at Costco. They also offer SquareTrade extended warranties at a discount on certain products.

Manufacturer Extended Warranties

Some manufacturers, such as Samsung and Apple, directly offer an extension of the original warranty. The AppleCare+ warranty plan for the iPhone extends the limited warranty to two years for $129 and offers accidental damage protection for up to two occurrences, with a deductible ranging from $79-$99 (depending on model).

Claiming Your Warranty

Now that you’re familiar with these warranties and service contracts, here are the steps to follow in order to claim your warranty.

  1. Prepare. Have all of this information ready:
    1. Name
    2. Item Description and Model Number
    3. Reason for Warranty Claim
    4. Serial Number
    5. Purchase Location
    6. Purchase Date
    7. Receipt
  2. Contact the manufacturer or extended warranty issuer, and explain the circumstances of the warranty claim. Follow your warranty document instructions to file your claim. If you can’t locate the warranty, there are two options:
    1. By PhoneNavigate through the manufacturer’s website or use GetHuman.com to reach a human customer service agent by phone as quickly as possible.
    2. By WebsiteMost warranties can easily be filed on the manufacturer’s or warranty issuer’s website.
  3. Other Options. If your claim is denied, don’t be discouraged. If you feel your claim is “within reason,” there are other mediums to open up a dialogue with the manufacturer:
    1. Social MediaUsing social media holds the manufacturer publicly accountable to resolve your issue.
    2. Manufacturer’s Support ForumsSome products are, unfortunately, plagued with bugs and flaws. If an issue becomes large enough, manufacturer support forums will sometimes reach out to users on their forum to offer a replacement.
    3. Complaint Letter via Certified MailThe Federal Trade Commission has an excellent template available online.

Getting the most out of your warranty can be easy. As always, keep your documentation!

Topics: Personal Finance

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