Like you, I too, espouse extended warranties. In most cases, you will never make use of it. The times that you do use one, you wonder if the couple of hundred dollars was worth the sanity you forfeited while dealing with the warranty company.
A few years back I “took over” the payments on a vehicle that my best friend purchased through a car dealership. He bought the vehicle in almost-new conditions and I helped him get an awesome deal. Imagine my shock when he called later to tell me he loved the new car and had peace-of-mind because he purchased an extended warranty. Rather than give him a piece of my mind, I just smiled and congratulated him on his new (to him) vehicle.
Once I took possession of the vehicle from him a little over a year later, I had to take it into the local dealership for a repair covered under the warranty. My friend spent over a grand on this extended warranty. With me being the first to use it, I paid a $50 deductible and the warranty company paid the other $30. The next time I took the vehicle in for service under the warranty, at least in my opinion, the dealership claimed that the warranty did not cover the problem. One may ask, “What sort of problem did not fall under the extended warranty?” The answer, one of the pistons developed a hairline crack and eventually ruined the entire engine. So, here I am with a vehicle that is less than 3 years old, an extended warranty that cost over a grand, and an engine only good as an anchor – environmental concerns notwithstanding. Yes, I called customer service, and because the manufacturer issued the policy, the office of the president for the vehicle’s manufacturer. I wrote letters, I filed consumer complaints, and, yes, I raised hell. In the end, I purchased a used engine, paid to ship it to a local shop, and had it installed all at my expense. I should point out that the expense totaled more than the cost of the extended warranty. Alas, the old adage about a woman scorned, forget that one, or rewrite it to say, “Hell hath no fury like a smartass pissed.” Do you remember that first little repair I talked about earlier? Well, under the terms of the warranty, if the repair needs repair, or the part needs replacing again, there is no additional $50 deductible. Since the list of problems for the dealership to repair during that first visit included some rattles and squeaks, the service department soon learned that it might have been in their best interest not to duck their end of the bargain.
Like you, I have gone through my share of notebook computers. I purchased a Hitachi P133T many years ago at a bargain price of just under $5K. I wish I had forked over the extra $200 for the extended warranty since the monitor died two months after the end of the manufacturer’s three-year warranty. Rather than fork over nearly $2000 for a repair, I bought another notebook along with the extended warranty. That warranty came in handy just before it expired, saving me a lot more than the cost of the warranty. A few notebook computer purchases later and I continue to purchase extended warranties with them. Unfortunately, very few of the warranties have manufacturers backing them. Currently, my “main” notebook computer is away for repairs under the warranty. This is the second trip for the same problem in the past couple of months. The repair is for the video card, which I could purchase for about $400 and install myself. With top-end notebooks beginning to have user-serviceable parts, my days of purchasing extended warranties may be ending. If you have the skills necessary to remove a few dozen screws of varying sizes, and if you can remember where they go, replacing components in some notebook computers is possible. Quite a few notebook computers experience problems with the power jack. Over time, the process of connecting and disconnecting the cable causes the solder on the pins to break. If you possess even the most rudimentary soldering skills, making that repair yourself is possible – even if replacing the jack becomes necessary.
One thing to keep in mind when purchasing an extended warranty is if that extended warranty EXTENDS that of the manufacturer’s. Nothing is worse than purchasing a 3-year extended warranty only to find out that it expires two years after the manufacturer’s warranty. The semantics alone seem intentionally misleading, making one think that they have 4 years of worry free ownership. After all, when you extend something, you make it longer than normal. Also, keep in mind that nearly all credit card purchases have some kind of extended warranty as a benefit for using the card. Before basing your decision about an extended warranty on that, make sure you read the fine print to ensure that coverage applies to the item you intend to purchase.
I read the same article you read in that consumer magazine. At the time, I tended to agree with the advice. In many cases, I still agree. Large screen TV’s, some notebook computers, and one or two other high-end products may need the benefit of an extended warranty. Washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, garbage disposals, cell phones, music players, etc., have no need of such a waste of money. Most of those seldom need service, or the cost of the service needed during the contract period is less than the cost of the extended warranty. Use that consumer magazine to research the brand’s reputation and their data about how often that brand requires servicing.
Decide on the advisability of an extended warranty before you make your purchase. Do not cave into high-pressure sales pitches that try to convince you to purchase the extended warranty: the pressure exists because the merchant gets a cut of the money for selling the policy. When the sales person first mentions an extended warranty, politely, but firmly, tell them you have no interest. If they mention it again, be firm and not so polite, in order for them to hear your message clearly.
P.S. By the way, if you experience problems with a notebook computer and can access the web, visit notebookforums.com to see if anyone else has the same problem. You may find an easy fix from other owners. (I am a member of the forum; however, I am in no way affiliated with the business that hosts the forum.)