Extended WarrantiesLike most people, I have a love hate relationship with Extended Warranties. When I purchase an expensive piece of electronics, with dread I wait for the question, “Would you like an extended warranty?” Yes, I am one of those people who buys an extended warranty every now and then. I have one on my car,computer monitor, television, washer and dryer and most recently, my new laptop.

Of course reading my admission, you’re thinking, why everyone knows an extended warranty is a waste of money. Well, yes and no. Before you decide to give up on me, let me explain my rationale.

The extended warranty on my car was not as expensive as it would have been if I had purchased it from the dealer where I bought my car. This guy was out of state and selling these warranties like ice cream on a hot day. He wasn’t trying to make a big profit because in his mind, quantity was better. It all comes out in the wash. Plus, I’ve already used it and saved $500 on a repair job!

I bought the warranty because of all the electronics that control my car. For example, a computer chip controls how cool or warm the AC gets when it’s turned on. If the temperature is below 63 degrees, I am going to get some heat, no matter how hot I am! I no longer have control over the temperature in my car! So that was one reason.

The other was when I wanted all four doors on my car to lock once I placed it in gear, the mechanic had to connect a laptop somewhere inside the car to make the changes! On my previous car, it was some combo setting you could look up in the owner’s manual. Well, those two experiences are what convinced me that maybe I better invest in an extended warranty. This warranty covers the car bumper to bumper as if I just purchased it.

I think with extended warranties you have to put them in perspective. They are like any other insurance policy you purchase for your car, home and even yourself! It provides protection and in some cases a peace of mind. Of course all extended warranties are not the same. Because of the ones with the extreme pricing, added gotchas’ or deductibles, they are the ones that have left an uncomfortable feeling with most consumers. When purchasing an extended warranty you should consider the following:

1. Ask yourself why do I need it? Are you purchasing it because not having causes some anxiety for you? Are you thinking about it because if your device should become damaged or stop working, will you are able to replace it without breaking the bank? Is it something you can do without if something happens to it that renders it inoperable?

2. Do your homework. If you buy most of your electronics from a particular store be knowledgeable of what they offer. Before spending your money on an extended warranty, consider the reliability of the product and the manufacturer’s warranty. If you must have it, keep in mind there are other places you can obtain an extended warranty other than from the retailer where you made your purchase.

3. Consider the cost. If a warranty is more than 20 percent of the product’s price, it may be too much.

According to the SCIC (Service Contract Industry Council), most extended warranties are 10 to 20 percent of the sales price. Also, take the time and check if there is a deductible for repairs or replacement which could be anywhere from $50 to $150.CEO and co-founder of ProtectCELL, Bryan Finnerty, who sells extended warranties for phones and tablets, states that if the warranty price is half the cost of the product’s retail price, you should decline it.

Furthermore, the one year warranties Apple offers cover most problems, but glitches and issues technicians can’t replicate are not usually included, Finnerty says.Apple Care warranties don’t cover the theft of a device, but ProtectCELL does. A good extended warranty should cover accidents or drops and spills, which are two of the most common causes of damage to electronics. Extended Warranty

4. What Are You Getting? Question whether the warranty is transferable if you sell your device to someone else. Coverage is important because you will need to know if it will be repaired or replaced if it is damaged. The best companies’ offer 24/7 claim services where you can file any time of the day or night during the week.

Most companies cover a variety of electronic products, but some of the best providers will also offer product warranties for such items as GPS units, video gaming consoles, etc. that are rarely considered for coverage. When purchasing an extended warranty, consumers are really purchasing assurance for good customer service and technical support. Consumers appreciate companies that are conscientious, accessible and provide the most help and support.

5. Check for Third Party Providers. Most extended warranties are offered by retailers after selling you a product. The cashier asks if you want the warranty and you have to make a quick decision on the spot. Most consumers may not know they do not have to decide at that moment, but can wait anywhere from 30 to 90 days after your original purchase date and buy one with a third party provider.

According to the website, toptenreviews.com, SquareTrade, CPS (Consumer Priority Service) and Electronic Warranty.com are the top rated extended warranty companies. For example, SquareTrade provides warranties for iPhones, iPads, laptops and other electronics. It covers drops, water damage, and other accidents.

What is being touted as a world first, SquareTrade recently launched insurance against a broken heart. The Heartbreak Protection Plan is designed to keep customers happy by offering the lovelorn recuperative therapy and a year’s subscription to an online dating site of their choice, to help them find love again.The benefit of buying an extended warranty online or from a third party and not directly from the retailer is that the warranty may be less expensive and/or cover a longer time period. If you really feel you need one, it would be a good idea to do your research before deciding on additional coverage for your product.

6. Your Credit Card May Offer Better Protection. All four major credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express offer some type of extended warranty for products purchased with their cards. It usually adds on an extra year to the manufacturer’s warranty. This may be the easiest and cheapest way of extending your warranty, but in order to file a claim, you will have to jump through hoops to get your product repaired or replaced. To be on the safe side, it would be good to check with the credit card provider on the terms of their warranty.

Extended warranties get a bad break because of the cost and sometimes the coverage doesn’t meet the expectations of consumers. However, they are used as a precaution so if you damage it, lose it or it stops working, it’s good to know that warranty will kick in to either repair or replacement your device at a nominal fee if applicable. If you purchase one, you are gambling on whether you will need it or not. In my opinion, it’s great to have, just in case you need it.

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