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The Almighty Buck Hardware

Dealing with Extended Warranty Vendors? 144

Posted by Cliff
from the fighting-for-what-you-paid-for dept.
edg176 asks: "I am wondering about other people's experiences with getting Extended Warranty service. I bought a laptop at Microcenter. Got the top of the line extended warranty. Laptop died. I sent it in for service, and the outside repair place, MicroMedic, claims they can't fix it, and the actual warranty administrator is separate from the repair place -- way out in Florida! My warranty says I can get a full refund of my purchase price if the warranty people can't find me an equivalent laptop. They can't, because Microcenter no longer carries the sharp ultralight laptops. Dealing with warranty administrator people, Warrantech has been a nightmare. They won't let me speak to a manager and they keep jerking me around. So far, I've gotten them to agree to give me 1200 bucks store credit, which is still 500 bucks shy of the purchase price. Is it worth fighting them for the last 500 bucks? Does anyone have success stories or tips for this situation? Should I just take the 1200 and be happy I got that much?"
"They claim that a 1200 dollar, 4.5 lb laptop is the same as my old 2.5 lb model. The dude on the phone actually claimed that low weight was not a significant feature in a laptop. Right now I have to say I would never do business with these guys again, as they have been relentlessly condescending and obstructionist."
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Dealing with Extended Warranty Vendors?

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  • three words (Score:4, Informative)

    by j0nb0y (107699) <jonboy300.yahoo@com> on Thursday February 10, 2005 @08:14AM (#11628645) Homepage
    small claims court. You paid extra for a service for your laptop, and now when you try to use that service, they are refusing to give you the service you paid for. Extended warranty services are a scam, and going to court is the only chance you have of getting what you paid for.
    • Re:three words (Score:3, Informative)

      by LouCifer (771618)
      I agree. I'd add that I'd call back and ask to speak to a manager again. When they refuse, ask for their info, then ask for the legal department, etc. If the OP's state is one that allows for single-party phone recording (that is, allows him to record the conversation without the other party's knowledge or consent) do so as possible evidence for use in court.

      Then, file suit in small claims. When they fail to show up, I believe you get an automatic judgement in your favor. If they show up, use the tape as e
      • http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.recordlaw.html [pimall.com] - synopsis of laws regarding recording phone calls, by state.
        • Yeah, but according to that list, Florida is a state that requires all parties to consent to the recording. So, if the poster is in Florida, he can't record without their consent.

          And, according to the link provided, if the call crosses state lines, you should contact a lawyer and assume that the more stringent (both parties consent required) requirement applies.

          Now, here's the question. Assuming that the support center has the boilerplate "This call may be recorded for quality control purposes . . . " l
          • IANAL, but this makes perfect sense to me. It's even better if they use the "your call may be recorded for...", etc. message since it specifically does not state WHO will be recording the call. They might have a better case if they were to say "We may record your call for..." instead.

            Of course, you can always tell the rep you're talking to on the phone that you are going to record the call for legal purposes... this sometimes gets results because they know ou're serious about pursuing this.

            Also, don't f
          • Assuming that the support center has the boilerplate "This call may be recorded for quality control purposes . . . " language at the beginning, is that them giving consent to have their call recorded? It certainly seems that it is them saying that you are giving consent to a recording, so isn't it tacit consent to allow you to record as well?

            All you need to do at the beginnin is ask, "May I record this call?" and then their message says "This call may be recorded...", thereby answering your question and a
        • Re:three words (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Completely aside from whatever the local businessmen have pushed through state law, as a practical matter, you can record yourself in any business conversation. Just don't lie to the guy if he asks if it's being recorded.

          Most of these places have a message that tells you the call "may be monitored for your own good" or some shit when you ring them up. That covers your ass. THEY are recording it, so you have a right to also.
      • Re:three words (Score:3, Informative)

        by jadenyk (764614)
        I've actually legally recorded a call before and typically, if you begin the conversation with something like:

        "My Name is {your name here} and I'm calling about {put a long sentance about your problem here} and I'm recording this call for legal reasons."

        They'll typically say "ok" and move on with the problem, probably not even registering what you said. In my situation (the states I was dealing in) all I had to do was notify them - I didn't need them to acknowledge it at all. Talk fast, but make sure i

      • Any time that you call and they say, "this call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes" or something like that, they have explicitly given their consent for recording of the conversation. You (by remaining on the line) are giving implicit consent. Therefore, anytime they say that, you are legally permitted to record. They don't always say that, but when they do, go for it.
    • What does the Microcenter store manager say? He would be the first person that I would be talking to if the extended warranty that his store sold me is not providing the coverage that his sales person promised.
      • Re:three words (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        A store manager, while they technically have the authority to write something like that off, will completely take it in the ass if they do. For something like a laptop, go to the company, and have them take care off it. Write a polite by unhappy letter with your contact info. They're going to want to actually talk with a person with that much money involved. It's just the way statistics are tracked for retail outlets. Asking the local store to take that would be a real kick in the nuts, particularly si
    • The biggest problem with small claims court is that when you win (you will, they wont show up), you have to convince them to pay you. That can take years. Most of these companies wait until they have dozens of judgments against them, then file for bankruptcy.
      • Re:three words (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cybermage (112274) * on Thursday February 10, 2005 @09:31AM (#11629354) Homepage Journal
        you have to convince them to pay you.

        Don't know how it works in Florida, or inter-jurisdictionally for that matter, but in New York, you can request that the County Sheriff where the business/person resides enforce the judgement. They will go, judgement in hand, and request payment. If payment is refused, they can seize assets to cover the settlement. (I believe they have this kind of sweeping authority because we're talking about small claims.)

        If your state has County Sheriffs, I would start by talking to them once you have a small claims judgement in your favor and see what they advise.

        Also, unless the refund guarantee specifies "Store Credit," I wouldn't even settle for $1700 in Store Credit. That's not a refund.
        • If you can do it, be there when the Sheriff is there. You can help the Sheriff pick out things to sieze. It's good to be helpful. Make sure you go to the auction too, because you can get the stuff you picked out real cheap.
    • Re:three words (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chyeld (713439)
      90% of the companies that sell extended warrenties also include a clause which requires you to use an arbritrator of their choosing if you have issues with their service. 100% of these arbritrators are located in out of the way places (such as five states away) and in locations where the laws favor the company, not you.
      • I've always wondered about the legality of this. Will a judge actually throw a case out because of such an agreement? I wonder if it's ever happened...
        • I beleive it has. Paypal pulled that same crap, and, if I remember correctly, got slapped for it. I could be wrong though, and work's censorware doesn't let me get to any links that would be useful in confirming.
    • Subject says it all.

      Extended warranties are generally a rip-off, considering their high cost and low liklihood of having a warranty-covered failure. IOW, while a form of insurance, the premium is damn expensive.

      Now, having paid that damn expensive premium, and having a covered failure, you should damn well expect gold-plated service.

      Personally, I don't purchase extended warranties, but TEHO. However, it doesn't surprise me that the sleaze related to the high premiums extends to having claims settled.

    • Similar situation... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vwjeff (709903)
      I had a similar situation with a Toshiba laptop I bought a few years back. The unit came with a 1 year depot repair warranty standard. I planned on keeping the unit for at least three years (I was in college) so I purchased an extended 3 year warranty.

      After having the laptop for a year and a half the unit would not power on from time to time. I didn't think much of it at first until the unit would not turn on at all. I called the support hotline and explained the problem. They said it was the battery
  • by Fr05t (69968)
    "They won't let me speak to a manager" - demand to speak to their manager. Keep calling and asking and don't let up.
  • Good advise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Thursday February 10, 2005 @08:18AM (#11628674) Homepage Journal
    When you are buying a lot of expensive hardware, calculate the exact cost of that extended warranty and put the same amount of money on an special account. When you buy another hardware, do the same. Then, when anything breaks, pay for it with the money you saved. Most likely than not there will be enough money left to go to disco or whatever kids do these days and you will be glad that you haven't wasted that money on the extended warranty in the first place. Usually it is even less expensive to hire a full time support guy for that money provided you are going to pay more money for said warranty than a full time support guy would cost. This is just like any kind of insurance, most of people pay more than they get.
    • I would just like to say that even though that is true in general sometimes with high margin items that is not the case.

      I worked at Office Max and on electronics the warrenties were a rip, but not too bad (10% for 3 years, lots of rules) our margins were in the 10-40% range. On computers the warrenty was a total waste at 20% for 3 years, with most having a 1 year warrenty (margins were 1-10 %)

      But on furnature, where the margins are huge (>50%) the warrenty was 10% the cost of the product, took over th
  • Or, if you're not in her juristiction, here in the UK we have something called Trading Standards [tradingstandards.gov.uk]

    If a company jerks you around like that, pop into your local trading standards office and they may well take up the case for you.

    Do you not have any such body in the US ?

    Local newspapers are also a good source of help and may publicise the case. I know our local papers would be hot for it, warranty scams have been newsworthy here for a while.
    • Sounds like the Better Business Bureau [bbb.org] is the US version of Trading Standards. I know a few people who have had issues with different types of businesses. When they contacted the Better Business Bureau, the businesses suddenly became very cooperative.
      • Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the BBB also cooperates with business who have complaints filed against them.

        The only place I've worked at that had complaints filed against it was able to take care of the issue by explaining the situation. For example, one customer complained that he'd pre-paid for a year of our dial-up service, and that service was unavailable two times, in that period.

        Now, we were a mom & pop shop that prided itself on reliability and service. Our record was stellar,
      • Not quite the same organisation. As I understand it, the BBB is a non-profit orginisation run by businesses that serves primarily as an intermediary and arbitrator. Trading standards is a government body, which exists in addition to various indpendent regulatory bodies and trade associations.
  • Best Buy (Score:4, Informative)

    by dmayle (200765) * on Thursday February 10, 2005 @08:24AM (#11628707) Homepage Journal

    As much as extended warranties are usually a ripoff, there are certain things I go along for just because I don't want to deal with suddenly not having them. PDA's are like that. I want a replacement immediately if I've got a problem with my PDA.

    That being said, Best Buy has been very good to my friends and me with regards to warranty service. I had a friend with a similar issue to yours, and she was given a brand new laptop two years after hers kept going in for repais on the same problem. (The CD drive kept dying on a Toshiba laptop)

    • Re:Best Buy (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Having worked for 'Worst Purchase' [bestbuysux.org] in their Service Department, I can state the exact opposite:

      Not only do they encourage employees to find ways out of repairing/replacing products, but you'll find that when a repair is actually warranted, it'll be executed by a monkey who does not belong 'under the hood' so to speak ...

      Set 20% more than the cost of their plans aside in an interest bearing account everytime you buy something like this. You'll come out ahead in the long run.
    • I have a friend with a laptop under Worst Buy warranty.

      she sent it in to them in late Dec, still hasn't gotten it back yet.

      She calls but they just jerk her around. My next advice is BBB...

      grump
    • extended warranties are for suckers. just say no and avoid disappointment later.
    • The best thing I ever bought at Best Buy was a microwave oven. It has worked spectacularly in preparing items (purchased along with a 3 year warranty) to be sent off for replacement. :)
    • Re:Best Buy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by horatio (127595)
      Best Buy has been very good to my friends and me with regards to warranty service.

      The Ohio AG is (was?) investigating Best Buy for a variety of reasons, among them failure to honor warranties, IIRC.

      I will never purchase anything from BestBuy anymore. I bought a car CD player there a few years ago, and when it broke, I had to take it out of the car and have it sent in. Not only was the original problem not fixed, but the "fix" had created an entirely new an unrelated problem with the unit. After about
  • I would ask for there names and there managers name. Then I would continue to ask to speak with there manager. If they continue to refuse I would ask for the address of head office. I would let them know that the service that you are receiving is noted and that head office and the manager will receive a letter concerning the quality of the service. something like in Schindler's List.
    • hmmm.

      "something like in Schindler's List."

      I had two responses to that:

      1) Oooh, that's awful close to a Godwin's Law violation. Passed, but barely.

      2) Mr. Burns: Listen, Spielbergo. Schindler and I are like peas in a pod! We're both factory owners. We both made shells for the Nazis, but mine worked, damn it! Now, go out there and win me that festival :P
  • I'd threaten submitting a claim to the Better Business Bureau
    http://www.bbb.org/ [bbb.org]
    • by His name cannot be s (16831) on Thursday February 10, 2005 @08:47AM (#11628891) Journal

      I'd threaten submitting a claim to the Better Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org/


      Tee Hee.

      The BBB isn't going to be at all useful, especially if they aren't a member.

      The BBB is just a boys club to make people beleive that they can get fair redress from the big bad companies.

      The best you can do is to probably ask for the operator's name, and ask them to spell that please, and ask to speak to their legal department.

      You may also want to ask them if it is better for the subpoena to be sent to their home or their work. You would be suprised how much more flexible phone drones will be if you make them think that their name will end up on a lawsuit. :P
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Another good tactic is to look up the person who is specified in their Secretary of State filings as the one who receives Service (as in notice of suits, etc) and send them a letter. Sometimes when that particular person receives a nice, polite, detailed letter explaining everything the organization suddenly gets reasonable. You might also write to MicroCenter themselves, and their CEO and Recipient of Service, because they may make the situation good with you if the other company doesn't.

        If that doesn't
      • I have found the BBB to be extremely useful. One thing to keep in mind is that they are local organizations & some are as bad as you claim, but many are much better. Warrantech [bbb.org] and MicroCenter are both members. Warrantech actually seems to resolve complaints brought against them. While making a claim with the BBB shouldn't be the only action made, there's little reason not to.

        I will say that the grandparent's suggestion to make this a threat is far too conservative. Poster has already been screwed
  • Now you know (Score:1, Redundant)

    by photon317 (208409)
    When at the checkout counter, say no to everything they ask you. No protection plan, no extended warranty, etc. They are always ripoffs.
    • There are exceptions. If you like to run high volumes through your speakers it might be a good idea to get this for speakers. If you drop your laptop often (and who doesn't?) it might be a good idea.

      However the above is only true if the company will pay out when there is a problem. Good luck finding one of them. In theory though they can be a good idea.

      • Another example would be an XBox (assuming you aren't planning on modding it)

        With the issues some people (including myself) with the DVDrom in it, it can be beneficial
  • by webhat (558203) <slashdot&specialbrands,net> on Thursday February 10, 2005 @09:09AM (#11629069) Homepage Journal
    What I always do, and for me it happens to be the case, explain to them that you did business with them because your company does business with them and that the way they treated you is not satisfactory. Mentioning an annual budget in the hundreds of thousands and say that if they can't solve it you'll talk to the finance department telling them what happened and how they really treat their customers.

    If you have free time: the other way is just to directly call their headoffice and see how high you can get, make sure you get a face to face meeting with the highest guy you can get, then waste an hour or two of his time. Which should be the equivelent of the amount they deducted and explain at the end of the meeting that you purpousfully wasted their time to earn back the money deducted by buying faulty equipment, that'll piss them off.

    Also apply to jobs at the firm and just use the interview to complain about the service you got at the store and how you think they really need you to make it less crappy.

    And if all else fails, get a soapbox and stand outside the store, on a public pavement and explain to passing customers how they treated you, do it on their bussiest day.

    You can get a refund, you'll probably get something even better if you explain that your campaining cost money and loss of earnings. (I think that may be blackmail or racketing or something...)

    Just so you know I accept no liability if you do anything mentioned above. IANAL, AFAIK and GFDL.
  • by gregwbrooks (512319) * <gregb@@@west-third...com> on Thursday February 10, 2005 @09:15AM (#11629111)
    Warrantech Corp.
    2200 Hwy. 121, Ste. 100
    Bedford, TX 76021
    Phone: 817-354-0095
    Fax: 817-436-6151
    Toll Free: 800-544-9510

    CEO: Joel San Antonio

    President of the Consumer Product Services arm: Stephen R. Williams

    The chairman of the board and President is Lawrence Richenstein of Peak Ventures in Farmingdale, NY

    Any slashdotter worth their salt can socially engineer or otherwise hack their way to an email address for these folks. When you get one, be polite and direct. Lay out the situation and a reasonable solution and show regret (not frustration, not rage) that their company didn't perform to the standards that you're *sure* they expect.

    You'll likely get a very fast and very satisfactory resolution to your issue.

    • This just reminded me of something my dad uses a lot. If a company gives him the runaround long enough, he'll start asking questions about the CEO, like "hey, I went to college with so and so, I'm sure he works for your company, do you know him?" Mentioning personal connections to executives can friendly people up immensely.
    • This is good advice. A few years back, when I was at university, we were having phone connections installed in all the student rooms for the first time. For several months, the building I was in was left disconnected, with engineers failing to turn up and the service provider's call centre staff giving us the brush off.

      After a while, my next-door neighbour got annoyed at this treatment, and after a little investigation he had worked out the managing director's home phone number. He rang at 9pm on a Saturd

  • Lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Thursday February 10, 2005 @09:17AM (#11629136)
    Don't by an extended warranty from a retailer. Ever.

    When I worked at a CompUSA in college several years ago, Warrantech warranties were sold at a 75% margin, which translates into a major ripoff.

    If you feel that you need an extended warranty, buy one directly from the manufacturer. I don't know about Sharp, but Toshiba and IBM offer comprehensive service plans that include 24hr turnaround service for about half of what a third party warranty costs.
    • No business (except maybe SCO, as M$'s legal puppy) is in business to lose money. No matter how good a deal sounds, they are not interested in losing money to get your business. They are going to make money one way or the other.

      So ask yourself, if an extended warranty makes them money, how does it do so, and what does that mean to you? They make money because the repair work they do, or the replacement they buy, plus the overhead of administering the warranty and work, is less than what you paid for the
      • Well, I am not sure that I totally agree with you on this. While you are correct that on average the warranty company is going to spend less than they make, it isn't true on an individual basis. It is just another form of insurance.

        Now I would guess that you have home owners insurance if you own a home. I would also guess that you have automobile insurance on your car. So what is wrong with breakage insurance on your laptaop? The issue is that companies that sell those warranties don't fall under in
        • Service Plans != Insurance

          A service plan repairs damage due to defects in materials & workmanship for a specific term. They do not cover stolen property, accidentially damaged property or acts of god.

          Insurance policies "make you whole" after some unforseen circumstance occurs. Your car insurance covers your liabilities in the event of an accident or other event. It does not fix your broken timing belt or leaky radiator.

          Your best bet is to buy a quality product that doesn't break, or buy things that y
          • Insurance policies "make you whole" after some unforseen circumstance occurs. Your car insurance covers your liabilities in the event of an accident or other event. It does not fix your broken timing belt or leaky radiator.

            It depends on the level of coverage. With my insurance company (USAA [usaa.com]), I had the choice of a variety of coverage, ranging from minimum required liability, to collision, to comprehensive. The comprehensive coverage also includes such things as mechanical problems, etc.

        • For houses and cars, the worry is expensive side effects, like paying someone else's medical bills or their expensive car. Or for a house, if it burns down, that's a lot of money to come up with, especially since the bank probably owns more of the house than you do. House insurance also covers injuries on the property,like that handyman who falls off the ladder.

          These aren't related to repairs. I would never get an extended warranty for a car, and my house came with a useless warranty bought by the realt
          • Well, I get your point. OTOH, I just took out an extended warranty on an expensive smartphone. I had both previous models and they always broke after the warranty expired. Technical faults or just dropping the thing (both covered) once too often. Being without your PDA is not fun since you really start to depend on these things. So I got extended warranty for this one.

            I figure these things are much more fragile than the regular phones that the insurer bases his rates on.

            I also got extended warranty for my
    • Well, it depends. I have a friend who is on his third MP3 player. Each time he went to buy a new one, he got an extended warrenty, and each time it broken in 2-3 years, he got enough credit from the original purchase price that he ended up with a higher capacity. If the technology of what you're buying is changing fast enough, it can work out to be a good deal.
  • Microcenter is a local store here. I've had pretty good success dealing with them on returns and other issues. You bought the laptop and the extended warranty from them. I'd expect them to be able to do something for you.
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Thursday February 10, 2005 @09:36AM (#11629427) Homepage
    So far, I've gotten them to agree to give me 1200 bucks store credit, which is still 500 bucks shy of the purchase price. Is it worth fighting them for the last 500 bucks? Does anyone have success stories or tips for this situation? Should I just take the 1200 and be happy I got that much?"
    You should fight for the $500, as you can do it with little effort very effectively. Here's what you do, regardless of what company is trying to screw you:

    Dig out all paperwork--in this case the original warranty and receipt for the laptop. Also photocopy everything you mail off. If the warranty company answers emails and faxes, use these methods for rapid communication with some amount of papertrail. If not, call them. But log all phone calls & followup with letters. Also cc microcenter on everything. Unhappy customers might mean they lose their contract with microcenter, which they don't want! Hopefully you've done this, as it seems like you're not getting anywhere with them.

    Because of this, you should start contacting consumer advocates. This is typically free, aside from postage & quite effective. File complaints against both Microcenter and the warranty company. File complaints with the BBB and the FTC. You should use the local BBB of both companies. Also use a service such as planetfeedback.com to send letters to reps at both companies who might actually have the power and the willingness to fix this for you. These are often addressed to the CEO & if not, you can always write to the CEO yourself. Also contact the attorney general of the state these companies are headquartered in. If applicable, also the US Postal Inspector. Sometimes states also have a Department of Consumer Affairs.

    You can reuse your complaint letters for most of these. In the first paragrah, summarize your complaint & what resolution you want. In subsequent paragraphs, give a detailed history with names & dates. In the final paragraph, say again what it is you want. Try to make this about a page. Say that you have supporting paperwork & perhaps include the original warranty, as that seems to be the most relevant piece. But don't flood anyone with papers. Also try to be civil, but firm.

    Submit these on the same day & wait about two weeks. You should start to see results in your favor.

    I have almost always had success at this point with complaints on behalf of myself, my family, or friends. If not, you do have more options. You can contact the media if you are savvy or even setup your own microcentersucks.com website. This is typically cheap & these businesses do not want to lose business because of a squeaky wheel. This slashdot post is actually a decent start. If you have a friend who is a lawyer, have him send additional correspondance on his letterhead.

    If none of this works, go to small claims court. This will cost a filing fee, but you will most likely win & be awarded the money they owe you plus the filing fee you paid. Many companies won't fight a small claim. Those that do in cases like these lose.

    Perhaps the most important thing that all of these do is that they start or continue a trail of complaints about shady companies. Microcenter may choose to use a less shady warranty administrator or customers who see complaints to both Microcenter and the warranty administrator will think twice before getting the extended warranty. If you don't do it for the $500, do it for the rest of us!
    • Sorry, but the BBB has no teeth. I filed a complaint with them a year ago, they acknowledged that it was received, they said they asked the company for their take on it, and that was the end of it. I got zero satisfaction. It wasn't worth the time I spent submitting the complaint.
      • The most effective way to make a BBB complaint is to contact the local BBB for whatever city/township/county the company headquarters are in. And that's the rub. Some are poor, some are quite good. I have seen some complaints get less attention than yours got--no acknowlegement of receipt until it was sent many, many times. But most BBBs are much better & do try to use their limited budgets to help consumers.

        It is worth the time to submit a complaint--the complaint will at least go into a file
    • If none of this works, go to small claims court.

      This a great option, as the filing fee can usually be $30 or less but there are two things you should be aware of before you try this:

      Most extended warranty contracts have an arbitration clause. That means you gave up your right to sue and instead will have the claim decided by an arbitration service that the company selected and pays.

      Once you win in small claims court the initial burden of collection is on you. If you can't extract your money from the def
      • Filing fees vary greatly. In Chicago, it would cost about $75 to file this claim. In other districts, I've seen it be less than $20.

        When you win, many courts also order interest start accruing on what is owed you. Chicago has a 9% APY. If the company isn't going to go bankrupt (and, in this case, the seller is a very large company), they will usually pay you off immediately, lest they suffer these penalties. Collecting from businesses isn't bad, but you are right that it can get tricky. While you can
  • Buy them...but make sure that the _physical_ store you buy them from will handle returns/exchanges.

    But different retail stores within the same company will interpret the warranty policy differently so you might want to get a feel for that before you buy. The phone center of a company will always have the strictest interpretation because they have no vested interest in making you happy and upper management watches them very closely. So only use a 1-800 number when you absolutely have to and expect to have y
  • Get a recommendation for a local lawyer and follow through with it. With his consent, call your local newspaper and TV investigative reporters and let them in on it. I can almost guarantee you'll have your entire $1700 (plus probably a little extra "apology money") in record time.

    That's the thing about having a lawyer. You don't even have to use them to scare the other guy into honoring their agreement; simply having one is usually enough to make them realize you mean business.

  • by spotter (5662) on Thursday February 10, 2005 @09:56AM (#11629773)
    I usually buy things with my american express blue card, it will extend the warrenty on things I purchase up to a year. Recently one of my 3 year one month old Athlon 1800 MPs died, since they were retail parts, they had a 3 year warrenty. I call up AmEx and they refund my purchase price right then and there, even though one can purchase an 1800 MP for siginificantly cheaper today. I turn around and use that refund to be able to significantly upgrade my computer with 2 Athlon 2800 MPs :)
  • Economic Lesson (Score:4, Informative)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday February 10, 2005 @10:15AM (#11630005) Homepage Journal

    Re: insurance


    For things like car collision insurance, product warranties, etc., if it is within your means it is always less expensive to self-insure for loss and damages.

    I read once where those lucrative extended warranties that get hawked at consumer electronics stores, the ones that bring in great commission to the sales person, to the store and to the insurer, typically have to pay out about US$1 in claim settlements for every US$11 that is collected. I'm not even sure if the salesperson commission or store commission is included in that figure. Either way, it should tell you something about the risks and probabilities that are involved.

    Exhibit A: about 3 years ago my S.O. wanted to pay $4/month for insurance on our cell phone and when she brought it in to be replaced about 2 years later because the antenna had predictably gotten bent, wouldn't stay extended, etc. (insert joke) she was informed that that particular malady was not covered. So we'd paid about $100 for peace of mind that was a delusion.

    Exhibit B: When I recently purchased an expensive LCD flat screen TV and I reluctantly agreed to look into the extended warranty because of the infamous "dead pixel" issue, I asked the store for a clear statement of exactly what the extended warranty covered since I'd heard of disreputable places that would exempt dead pixels in the outer third of the screen from coverage, up to 10-12 pixels, etc. Despite their enthusiasm for selling the extended warranty, they never did get me a copy of the policy, we didn't get the extended warranty, saved $1000, and been happy as clams with the TV.

    • AT HIGH TIDE (OT) (Score:3, Informative)

      been happy as clams with the TV

      As happy as clams AT HIGH TIDE is the proper saying. Why do so many people think clams are happy all the time? It is when the tide comes in and keeps the predators from digging them up that they are happy.

      That's even assuming clams can be happy, but I'll leave that for some other pedantic.
    • I'm not sure if this is true in every case. It's certainly true for cars, but computers are different if you go for a manufacturer's extended warranty. Take a case I'm familiar with, Apple's AppleCare extended warranty. If, say, your PowerBook's logic board dies and you need to get it replaced, it will probably cost you $1,000 just for the board, not counting the labor to replace it. I'm sure Apple isn't paying anywhere near that much money for their parts. Of course you can get used boards from various thi

      • AppleCare will be worth it on my PowerBook

        I couldnt' say for sure in this particular case, but if it were me I'd ask other PowerBook owners about their troubles to get an idea of the reliability, how often the logic board dies, etc.

        Estimate the risk (let's say for the sake of argument that the probability is 0.05 it will go out between year 3 to year 7 which is when you'll probably buy a new G6 laptop and sell your current PowerBook on eBay) and that the cost of replacing the logic board if you had the

        • I'm betting Apple makes money from Apple Care, so that a cost to self-insure is less than what they're charging for it.

          But that doesn't follow, which was half the point of my original post.

          Apple's costs are not going to be the same as your costs. If Apple only pays 1/3rd as much for parts as you do (by virtue of them buying them in 100,000-unit lots, etc.), then they can make money on their warranty service while still being cheaper than self-insuring. I don't know if they do, but it's possible.
      • There was another story on slashdot a week or so ago regarding insurance.

        Apparently, many home or renter's insurance policies will allow you to add insurance for computer equipment at a very low cost.

        But I think the lessons from the posts on this story are that it is the 3rd party warranty vendors that are the problem. They just don't serve you very well.

        Buying an extended warranty from the manufacturer, while relatively expensive, is usually not worth it for desktop systems, which are easy to service a
        • AppleCare has no deductible for covered repairs, and covers different stuff than a homeowner's policy would. If your logic board dies, your homeowner's policy most likely won't cover anything, even after a deductible. Apple will replace it for free, if you didn't do something stupid to break it. If the machine is stolen or destroyed in a fire or other household disaster, AppleCare won't cover it, but insurance might.
      • Logicboard repairs are usually around the $300-$400 mark.
    • my friend bought an lcd tv with extened screen protection at compusa, it broke, boxed it up, brought it in, first thing out of the comp guys mouth was, "its not the screen is it? because our warranty doesn't cover the screen..."
  • by dbullock (32532)
    People love to trash Dell, but I have NEVER had a problem with Dell in 5 years honoring their extended warranty service, and have had them ship a newer replacement model for me twice.

    There IS a reason they've had such success and enjoyed a high customer satisfaction rating.
    • They literally are the McDonalds of computing. If it's not to your perfect like, they'll take it back and give you what they messed up on. If it's broke, they fix it fast. Exactly the way that fast food chain does..

      Would you like RAM with that?
      • That's disingenuous

        I buy systems (desktop and server) for a typical small/medium business corporate environment running a mix of Linux and Windows.

        I don't need anything unusual (NUMA, 128 bit, 64x CPU). I need single/dual/quad CPU systems with reliable disk and fast network.

        Oddly enough the systems they make match my needs (as well as many many many other people's needs).

        Dell's reps come out, they replace/repair the broken parts and leave me with a working system with minimal/no phone hassle so I can f
      • Dell have (or at least used to have) Total Care, which would cover your laptop if you smash the shit out of it. I've literally had a whole laptop sent in parts (plastics, motherboards, drives, batteries and so on) to fix a system that fell from a moving car :)

        They practically made it new again. They changed the battery because the front of it had a slight dent. Yes yes, Total Care is good.
    • My father's experience with them:

      Bought a dell desktop, everything worked fine except the hard drive made a funny whining noise every 15-20 minutes or so: like there was a small, injured cat trapped inside (I'm not joking - he even recorded the noise and played it to the support guys). He asked tech support "Is this something I should worry about?". They said "It's not on our script".

      Eventually, it got annoying enough and he pushed Dell enough that he got it sent it back for a replacement hard drive, with
  • Homer: Extended warranty? I can't lose!
  • I can't imagine wanting to have an extended warranty serviced by anyone other than then manufacturer. laptop parts are still basically bespoke even if the building blocks are mostly standardized.

    dell toshiba ibm and apple all have extended warranty options, a while occasioanly their service isn't great they're actaully capable of supporting a laptop that they made three years ago.
  • by axoi (150528)

    You don't mention if you're in the US, but most US cities have an Attorney General that you can speak with that will answer most of your questions regarding transactions like this. If nothing else your attorney general will be able to point you in the right direction of who to contact about this.

    Look them up under your local government yellow pages. There might also be a consumer advocate group that you might want to speak with.

    If the contract states specific resolutions and they are not being met then it
  • Try calling the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The possiblility of having their license revoked might wake them up.

    Consumer Helpline
    1-800-342-2762 (In Florida)
    850-413-3132 (Out-of-State)
  • Most extended warranty contracts gurantee replacement costs. I don't know specifically about your contract, but I would imagine they had a half way intelligent lawyer that stated in the contract that "comprable" was to their discretion.

    Now, given that, it's up to them to decide if 2 pounds of weight is enough of a differance to warrant upgrading your PC. I've personally gone through the whole "fight for all you can on warranty" thing but you can't expect to get 100% of the features in a 100% match. Some fe
    • Now, given that, it's up to them to decide if 2 pounds of weight is enough of a differance to warrant upgrading your PC. I've personally gone through the whole "fight for all you can on warranty" thing but you can't expect to get 100% of the features in a 100% match

      That's just crap. A laptop's weight is a defining feature of the whole model and something that people pay a lot of money for if the laptop weighs less. Some laptop ads trumpet "2 lbs! Less than a half inch thick!" as their primary selling po
  • They usually love this kind of stuff. Most areas have one or more stations that will confront the asshats with media exposure. They usually fold like a bad hand.
  • go to the better business bureaus, I have and I have had success in getting money back. www.bbb.org

    You can file a report and they will send the company a letter and stuff for you. It also has company ratings. So if a company has pulled crap on customers before then they may have a record in their database. It is free too.

  • There was a place I got a warrantee through...MAC Camera in New Jersey -- basically a rip off joint. I had to pay for shipping it there and then $50!! to have it shipped back, and they said that there was no problem, when it was most certainly busted (drive not recognized).

    Just get the manufacturers warrantee. stay away from asses like mac camera. If I am ever in that area of new jersey I am going to go in and yell at them at the top of my lungs, I wasted $300 on the extended warrantee and then another $80
  • I've seen people use this one. Go into the store. Talk about the products as if you're going to buy a brand new laptop. I'd avoid saying that you're specifically buying the product, but try to give that impression. Ask about the coverage. Ask about the features of the coverage. Ask some pertinent scenario-type questions. Try to involve someone in management to help you make your decision to buy this coverage. Really get them to tell you that the coverage covers "everything."

    After you are well and satisfied

God may be subtle, but he isn't plain mean. -- Albert Einstein

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