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:


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."



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

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.

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

  • China breaks ground on lighthouse project in South China Sea

    China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Thai, Philippine indexes weak after trade data

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose in line with the rest of Asia on Tuesday but the Thai index pared early gains after weak trade data in April, while the Philippine benchmark ... …

  • Is your home on top of a faultline?
    Is your home on top of a faultline?

    The Philippine Institute of Volcanoly and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently issued an updated and high-resolution "atlas" of the East Valley Fault and West Valley Fault, two major faultlines that run through sections of Metro Manila. Metro Manila may be due for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake within this lifetime, say experts from the institute, among them PHIVOLCS director Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr. According to records, the last major earthquake caused by the West Valley Fault took place 357 years …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options