When you buy a big ticket item at an electronics store, you have about 10 seconds at the checkout counter to answer a big question: “Do you want to purchase and extended warranty today for your computer system?”
As you hmmm and haw about it in your head at the cash register, the pressure is on --- and all eyes are on you: The clerk and shoppers lined up behind you wait for your answer. The longer you think, the more impatient everyone grows and you start to hear sighs from angry masses of holiday shoppers. But now you can make a decision on warranty buying after you leave the store, from the comfort of your own home
Companies like: www.squaretrade.com and www.monthlywarranty.com are now cropping up online where you can buy an extended warranty after you leave the store---and sometimes for much less than the major chains try to charge you.
VP of marketing for SquareTrade.com, Vince Tseng says most consumers shop around online to price products before they buy them and they should do the same for warranties. “SquareTrade believes that warranties are no different from other products – but they are sold by stores in a way that makes it so that consumers don’t really have this knowledge. So the stores don’t have to offer competitive prices, nor do they have any incentive to deliver amazing service.”
Here’s SquareTrade’s pitch on why you should walk out the door of the chain store without a warranty and log on when you get home to buy one:
- Cheaper: Consumers save up to 70% less vs. the typical store warranty. On average, it’s about half the price.
- Consumers are empowered: Unlike at the store, there is no pressure to buy a SquareTrade warranty. It’s the first warranty where a customer can read reviews from other customers, compare prices, view the terms, and take 30 days to decide if the warranty is right for you. They want customers to feel good about buying, not feel they were pressured to buy.
- Better Service: SquareTrade is known for our amazing service – google “SquareTrade reviews” to see what customers are saying. There's a 5-day service guarantee, so you know you won’t be without your laptop for weeks at a time. Most items are fixed, replaced, or reimbursed within 2 days.
- Online Management: SquareTrade is fully hassle-free. You can store your receipt online, so there is ZERO paperwork required to file a claim. The same is true with canceling a warranty – it can be done with 2 clicks on the website for a full refund in the first 30 days, and pro-rated after that.
It doesn’t make sense of course to buy an extended warranty for all products. Consumer experts say if you buy a cell phone or a product that’s a couple hundred dollars, you may want to skip it. But a really expensive purchase? Maybe.
Words of caution about any warranty you buy: Be careful! There’s been complaints about companies that offer warranties and even third party warranty companies going under—and you may be out of luck if you ever needed to cash in. And of course, how often have you heard someone complain, “My dishwasher broke two days after the warranty expired…” It’s all electronics and appliance gambling!
As always, read the fine print and clauses. If you drop it in water or spill a glass of wine on it, will you be covered? What if you lose it? When we asked SquareTrade if they really pay out claims, VP Tseng said absolutely. “Because our business is driven by word-of-mouth references and customers reviews, a satisfied customer is our best form of advertising. As a result, it’s in our best interest to fully satisfy the customer every time there’s a valid claim. Other warranty companies keep costs down by finding fine-print reasons to deny claims, but that would only serve to drive away business for us.”
Keep in mind many states have retail laws saying that the store has to take it back and give you a new one or your money back if a product is defective shortly after you bring it home.
Check with your credit card company too, some include warranty coverage and others may even double your warranty period.