Extended Warranties: When They’re NOT Worth Buying

Manufacturers and retailers are firmly convinced we’re idiots. I’m not kidding. Have you seen that laptop ad where a monkey tries to trash the computer? Think about it: To cater to the end user, they felt they had to design a laptop which couldn’t be broken by a deranged descendant of King Kong. That’s their opinion of us right there. It totally explains the extended warranty offers, which electronics stores keep trying to sell. In this article, I look at why those warranties may be  unnecessary:

 

Canon salesman

"And you should totally buy our extended warranty, which covers damage by falling walruses."

 

You might to skimp on warranties for the following:

  • Laptops and desktops
  • Plasma TVs (Yes, really)
  • External hard drives
  • Any product from small stores

In addition, some warranties carry terms that negate their worth.

 

1. Laptops and Desktops

 

Ancient painting with superimposed laptop

"These laptops last for ages. There's historical proof of that."

 

I’ll break these into two categories:

Laptops

Consumer research by sites like CNet show only 43% of laptops need servicing beyond 3 – 4 years. Since most extended warranties last three years, there’s a high chance you’re paying extra for nothing.

And even if the warranty extends to five years, its still a bad deal. Have you seen the laptops from five years ago? Some of them can be used as brickwork in a prison wall. No one’s rushing to get their warranties on any of those babies. And in five years, you won’t care about your laptop warranty anyway; because it’ll run fewer programs than there are unicorns in Tampines.

 

Ancient desktop

"We have a problem. Your predecessor gave this guy a life warranty…30 years ago."

 

Desktops

Note if the desktop has on-site warranty. If it doesn’t, you’re signing up for a gym routine. You’ll be lugging the desktop to and from the store, in the fervent hope that each time, the problem is finally resolved. Most desktop owners end up foregoing the warranty, and call their own repairman to the door.

With on-site warranty, you’ll have to wait for the manufacturer’s repair people to turn up. Good luck; they’re less organized than a juvenile delinquent’s schoolbag.

Oh, and desktops break only down 31% of the time (in a 3 – 4 year period). You’re even less likely to need the warranty than with a laptop.

 

2. Plasma TVs

People usually freak out because of Plasma TV’s “limited lifespan”. They’re worried that the screen will burn out in a few years, and they’ll need that warranty.

In truth, almost all Plasma TVs are rated to run at full brightness for 60,000 continuous hours. If you watch TV for 60,000 continuous hours, you won’t need a warranty; you’ll need a corneal transplant. Because 60,000 hours is ten freaking years. Even the extended warranty only goes up to five years.

 

Giant plasma TV on display

And after that fateful day, Mike was never seen outside his living room again.

 

A Plasma TV usually comes with a manufacturer’s warranty for up to one year. This is more than sufficient to spot any major defects. There are only two situations when you want extended warranty for a plasma TV:

  1. There is no manufacturer’s warranty (Good idea, buy something expensive from China)
  2. The warranty specifically includes “wear and tear”, so it’s valid even if you crack the screen or kick it over.

 

3. External Hard Drives

Most external hard drives last more than five years, and already have manufacturer’s warranties. But here’s the catch: most warranties say nothing about data retrieval.

 

External hard drive

"Can I claim the warranty on this? My memory isn't getting any better. I barely remembered where your store is."

 

For most users, the data in the hard drive matters more than the drive itself. So if the drive sputters and dies, odds are you’ll pay someone to retrieve that precious data. But to do that, they might have to crack open the casing. Guess what? That means breaking the seal, which means voiding the warranty. So you can either retrieve your data and waste the warranty, or lose your data and get a new hard drive.

If you’ve got two terabytes of downloaded movies and music, it’s pretty obvious which option you’ll want.

 

4. Any Product From Small Stores

Getting a warranty from a small store is a gamble. Remember there’s a difference between a manufacturer’s warranty and a retailer’s (extended) warranty. The extended warranty is processed by the store, not by the manufacturer of the product. If the store closes, your extended warranty is worthless.

 

Electronics dump

"Wait. Did you say he gave you an extended warranty in exchange for…a door?"

 

Small stores, such as the ones on the first three floors of Sim Lim, are notorious for taking advantage of this. Every two or three years, they close and open under a new name. This removes their obligation to fulfil an extended warranty (and probably dodges other lawsuits).

Small stores also tend to replace rather than repair; so if you’re dealing with a computer or MP 3 player, you might lose your data. Ask the retailer beforehand how their warranty works. If it’s just a simple replacement, and you have reason to prefer repair, forget the warranty. Save it for the servicing.

 

5. Terms May Make The Warranty Worthless

Ensure that the warranty covers wear and tear. In addition, question the sales staff on what happens if you drop or soak the product.

Warranties that don’t apply if you drop a product aren’t worth it; statistically, this is how the majority of electronics get damaged. Water damage comes a close second. As for manufacturing defects, these are few and far between; and what are the odds you won’t spot them before the manufacturer’s 90 day warranty?

 

Warranty cards

"Good news. I found the warranty cards while looking for a replacement camera. You know, the ones you didn't bother to send off?"

 

For bulky items like TVs and dishwashers, be wary of limited service calls. Some warranties limit the number of times you can call the repairman (usually 10). Ask what happens if, after the service calls run out, the problem still isn’t fixed. If the answer isn’t “You get a new one”, the warranty isn’t worth it.

Image Credits:
Blako ManoloMike Licht, ajmexico, AZAdam, miss karenÇP, salimfadhley, andrew_cosand

Do you believe in extended warranties? Comment and tell us why!

Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.



More From MoneySmart
Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • UNA hits PNP selection process
    UNA hits PNP selection process

    The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) hit yesterday the apparent machinations in the selection of the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA interim president, said the administration and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are perpetuating the bata-bata or patronage system in the selection process of the police chief. “They will start this by maneuvering the appointment of Gen. Garbo as PNP chief,” said Tiangco, referring to one of the top contenders for PNP …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Pacquiao: Mayweather is the fight of my life
    Pacquiao: Mayweather is the fight of my life

    Manny Pacquiao called his boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather “the fight of my life” as he got down to work pounding the streets and gym in Los Angeles. On Monday, Pacquiao ran two miles (3.2 km) and shadow-boxed for two rounds, followed by abdominal work and breakfast of steamed rice, scrambled egg, fish and chicken broth. Then he napped until noon and had lunch before heading to trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym, which is strictly off-limits to fans and media during Pacquiao’s …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • An ocean away, Pacquiao's trainer makes some noise from afar
    An ocean away, Pacquiao's trainer makes some noise from afar

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Armed guards patrolling the gym where Manny Pacquiao trains. Stealthy attempts to disrupt Pacquiao's sparring. And a bit of trash talking just to spice things up two months before the big fight. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options