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The Purchase : Extended Warranties

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Making Decisions About Service Contracts and Appliances

Think of an extended warranty as an insurance policy. You might never need it, but with the cost of service so high, can you afford an unexpected bill to pay?

Not all extended warranties are created equal, so who's should you buy?

  1. Your first choice should be the manufacturers' own. They are best equipped to provide service of that brand. In addition, they will want to create a good impression of their product by repairing it quickly and properly.

  2. The second choice should be the appliance dealer's own, provided it is underwritten by an insurance company. The dealer is next likely to want to keep their customer happy. They are also interested in sending a competent technician to do the repair right.

  3. The third is a third party warranty. These are also sold by the selling dealer but are independently operated. Be sure you read the contract because some policies only cover certain repairs and make certain they are insured.

  4. Take advantage or extended warranties offered free by credit card companiesMany credit card companies will extend the manufacturer's warranty by a full year when you make a purchase using one of their cards. This might be an inexpensive (free!) option if you only want 1 year of additional warranty.

  5. In some areas, service companies sell their own maintenance policies. These will often include preventative maintenance visits once or twice a year. If you are comfortable with the service company, this type of contract can be an alternative to extended warranties. Be sure to get references and read the contract thoroughly to see what they cover.

  6. Your last choice is extended warranty coverage from a third party not affiliated with the dealer or the manufacturer in any way. Before you choose this type, try to find out who will be performing the service in your area. If they are unable or unwilling to tell you, do not consider them any further.

Not all manufacturers require you buy an extended warranty for your appliance at the time of product purchase. If you complete the warranty registration card and mail it, often the manufacturer will notify you when the warranty is nearing expiration and give you the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty plan at that time.

Also see 'Ask The Experts' from the Assoc. of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

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