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Are extended warranties worth it?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / December 6, 2005 4:18 AM PST

Are extended warranties worth it?

Yes, I always buy them (tell us why)
No, they?re a rip-off! (please explain)
It depends on the price of the item (for example?)
What's a warranty? (you?re in trouble)
I should?ve gotten one for my boss, he's malfunctioning!

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It depends on a lot of things
by SherryB / December 6, 2005 4:57 AM PST

It depends on the expected reliability of the item, for example my 50" Panasonic LCD-projection TV. It has a known defect where it blows a $300 bulb about every 6 months. I paid about $300 for the extended warranty and have used it 3 times already in 2 years.

It depends on the repairability of the item, for example a notebook computer is very hard to repair display problems, motherboard problems, keyboard, etc., where the equivalently-priced desktop computer would be a breeze to fix yourself.

It depends on how badly you need an item to be available all the time, and the terms of the extended warranty. For example my digital camera. I can't live without it. My extended warranty is a local repair/replacement warranty, so I can take it to the store, get another one just like it and I'm good to go. If it were a ship-in for repairs type warranty that takes 3-6 weeks for repairs I would die. (well, I'd have to go buy another camera, but I'd do a really melodramatic impression of dying.)

Basically extended warranties are insurance. You assess the risks of what could go wrong with your products and decide if they're worth the price to cover. Always pay attention to the fine print, such as non-covered failures (consumeables), how long it takes to get a repair and whether or not they can be done locally, etc. Whether or not tech support calls are free. How many incidents you can claim on a warranty before its considered "fulfilled".

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Why Buy a Defect?
by parabians / December 6, 2005 11:30 AM PST

Help me with this: why would you buy a product with a "known defect"? With the cited repair record, one would of course spend the money on a repair warranty. With that kind of quoted failure, this seems like an illogical buy. Did you know this before you bought?

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didn't know specifics, but bought knowing about bulbs
by SherryB / December 7, 2005 12:14 AM PST
In reply to: Why Buy a Defect?

I didn't know about the specific Panasonic defect till after I bought it. But in general all projection-style TVs have bulbs and they are not the most reliable style of TV. That's why I bought it and thats why I bought the extd warranty with it.

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Extended Waranties are 90 percent ripoffs
by Batchain / December 7, 2005 6:48 AM PST

I say an almost blanket ''NO!'' to something that isn't likely to be of any use at all except if it's something unusual that you don't know enough about to begin with wheather a problem might occur and you'd best make sure you ask the advice of others what their experience has been and decide on that basis. Most times I hear something like, ''Yeah, that was a fool's waste of money, right from my pocket to the company's!''-- and not only from one single source.

As a rule it seems to go, ''You bought it, it's yours. Don't bother us, that's not covered under warrantie.'' Why the hell would any company over something they *knew* they might have to lose two pennies on? (Also I wish people would read *fine print*, everyone's gotten even sleazier to where the *fine print* is now grayscaled to the point of being half-toned and barely legible -- but still *within the law.*

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Turning the Tables
by Malainie / December 7, 2005 8:14 AM PST

I never buy the extended warranty. One time, after purchasing a new washing machine, the salesperson started in with the warranty pitch. Before he could get more than extended warranty out of his mouth, I STARTED in on HIM. I said, "What. Are you telling me this machine is going to break down in the next year so I should insure against that?" He tried to stutter out an answer, but before he could, I continued..."If you're telling me I need to warranty this machine, than maybe I shouldn't buy it! Why should I buy a machine that's going to break in a year?" Needless to say that very definitely shut him up. And, also, needless to say, I've used that same argument again. Wink

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Very limited thought process you have
by curtis0966 / August 30, 2010 11:46 PM PDT
In reply to: Turning the Tables

And no, I'm not a salesman of extended warranties. I simply explain the reason why "I myself always buy them" and yes I work in retail.

First off, I don't care what the company makes on my purchase of it. They can keep 100% of what I pay for it. I only care how I am protected if it should break.

Ask yourself this question. If automobile wasn't required by state law would you still purchase it. You can say "that's different" all you want and your thought process would still be very limited. It's insurance. Try not having it and cause an accident that you are fault in. Forget about the possibility of going to jail - think soley "do I have enough expendable cash to pay out of my pocket."

Now, working in retail I can't begin to explain to you how many times people like you have tried to make me feel stupid for asking if you would like to purchase it.

Now consider this for a moment. I have been around long enough to recall customers coming into the store 18 months later because their washer broke down. Of course, they state they want to have it repaired and I ask when they purchased it (of course, I recall when they did so I am only setting them up at this point). They tell me 18 months ago. Guess what my next question is... Well, if you guessed it to be "Did you purchase the extended warranty?" You would be correct.

Of course, I already know the answer to that too. When they say "NO" I simply say "I'm sorry your product only comes with a 1 year warranty and it is not covered." Imagine how pissed they are at that point.

Now at this point I dont say it but I certainly think to myself "I bet this is one of those customers that thinks extended protection plans are a waste of money - I bet when they see the bill for getting their appliance fixed and compare it to what our plan would have cost them I'm sure they will not believe them to be a waste of money then."

The day I decide to not work in retail anymore I will take the time to remind them in a smug way that they should have purchased the plan and "PISS POOR PLANNING ON YOUR PART DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY ON MY PART."

So, you just consider that the next time you decide to try and belittle a sales associate for doing their job and trying to inform you of the benefits of purchasing.

P.S. Of all the plans I have purchased (yes, thousands of dollars) on product that never broke down for the life of it the times that I have had to use the plan outside the manufacturer's warranty it has far exceeded the money I have forked out. Try buying a rear projection television with a warranty that cost me $300 and having the lamp bulb replaced 3 times within the 4 years I had it. By the way - the bulbs themselves costed $600 each time. Yes, $300 for a plan and $1800 in parts only. That's not counting what the labor would have costed. Now, it gets even better. The third time it went out "Best Buy" informed me that it would take an extended period of time to get a replacement bulb. Rather than have me wait they offered to give me credit (less depreciation) on mine to purchase another. Well, at the time projection television had pretty much been phased out. So with what they gave me in credit, I was able to purchased a 46" top of the line Samsung LCD flat screen WITH a 4 year protection warramty and still have $60 left to buy a game for my son.

Choke on that...

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Extended Warranties are not a good deal
by mpmacal / December 7, 2005 8:50 AM PST

3 Reasons why extended warranties are not worth the expense.
1. Most products come with a warranty for a year, the time period in which most manufacturing defects are uncovered.
2. After a year most products have wear. That wear will be interpreted as "damage", thereby voiding the warranty.
3. Most extended warranties are not with the manufacturer, and not with the retail store. The extended warranty is held by a third party service company. What do you know of their reputation and ability to provide service?
** I said most. If you are purchasing an extended warranty from the manufacturer, you stand less of a chance of being denied service on a technicality. They have a reputation to uphold.
*** I NEVER get exented warranties on computers.
E.g. By the time the hard drive crashes, (after year one, remember?), I will double my storage and have the PC running in half the time for $100.

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Are you Kidding? (Check the home-owners insurance)
by maxheadspace / December 7, 2005 11:47 AM PST

Extended warranties are simply VERY EXPENSIVE insurance policies. In my opinion, there is no way that they will ever pay off in the long run.

I own four laptop computers and one tabletop computer (I have a family of six). Over the last seven or eight years, I have had one video board fail on a laptop at just past the five year mark.

Conservatively, say the extended warranties are one third the sale price of the computer, which average about $1,000. (My latest extended warranty offers were closer to $400.)

That would be a total of $333 X 5 = $1,665

In my case, I could have purchased more than one and a half new computers for the price of the extended warranties. And the one computer that failed would have been outside the extended warranty period, so I wouldn't have even had that one replaced.

Now, here's the kicker. For about one dollar a month, I have a rider on my home owner insurance that covers ANY damage to ANY or ALL of my computers due to my ignorance, due to natural disasters, due to my neighbor crashing his car through my house. That's $12 a year to cover FIVE computers.

You wonder why they push these policies so hard at the store?!?! What a cash cow!

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But what is your deductible?
by SherryB / December 8, 2005 3:43 AM PST

Probably about $333 :-D. I have to admit I haven't checked into homeowners riders for electronics. I only use my homeowners insurance as catastrophe insurance. My deductible is high, so that my premiums are low. I keep enough cash in the bank to cover what I consider minor things, near my deductible amount. The homeowners is only for a big tree falling through my roof, fire, tornado, etc. where I would lose significantly more than my deductible. I've had a house for 15 years and still never filed a claim on homeowners. (knocking on simulated woodgrain as I say that...)

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Warrenty Ripoffs
by Maisie663 / December 8, 2005 5:00 AM PST

Try buying a computor with warrenty of 3 years--dumb move--the company has changed the warrenties without any written notice even before years up. If you call them they want more money because my warrentie no longer includes soft ware--did at first--it been rewritten. I would say I been there and done that---NO MORE Warrenties--they are not worth the paper they were written on. There is no tech support.

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by Y2K Blackout / December 8, 2005 4:03 AM PST

I have no idea what the hell you just said. Before you go running your mouth, think about the words you are saying and check to see if they make the least bit of sense. Not one sentence you wrote was properly written...

As it pertains to extended warranties, they may or may not be a waste of money. It depends on what the item is and the integrity of the store selling it. When people forcibly try to sell extended warranties, they usually lie and say something like, "it doesn't matter if you broke it, even on purpose. If it breaks, we'll give you a new one, no questions asked." The basic idea of extended warranties seems to be, if something goes wrong, a new one will be given to replace it.

This tends to be true only sometimes. The companies selling these warranties might try to go back on what their employees have told you. Damage caused by abuse, wear and tear, etc., are not valid reasons for using extended warranties.

So, the closing argument is this: if you're getting an expensive product, and you would like some extra insurance for it (just in case the hardware naturally breaks down), go for the extended warranty. This is especially useful if you are getting a brand you might not be comfortable with, e.g., Daytek. Otherwise, there's no real purpose.

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All things are not going to be perfect
by littlemissvixen812 / December 12, 2005 5:04 AM PST
In reply to: Why Buy a Defect?

.....Have you ever had a piece of technology that was absolutely perfect and never had a defect? I didn't think so. Technology can have unknown errors at the most unexpected times. You can never know whjat can go wrong with it. Warranties (extended) cover these problems that may occur. Technological products are always a gamble and you can't really say that anything is perfect.

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There are many things to consider?
by aaronius--2008 / December 6, 2005 11:49 AM PST

I've worked for many retailers, and I generally buy the extended coverage. However, different retailers handle service in different ways.

The cost of the extended warranty should always be considered. If the coverage supersedes the original warranty period, the retailer consider what the charge is for the actual extended period.

The very most anyone should pay is 12% of the purchase of the covered item per year of extension, and that should not be spent for anything under $800-1000 in value. Try to keep it below 10%, and if you can pay as little as 6-8% it's probably worth it.

How is the warranty handled if there is a problem? Is it replaced or repaired? What will your options be at the time of service? Some companies replace most items with a refurbished equivalent. Who wants someone else's problem? Other companies allow you to walk in with the product and replace it with an equal or lesser cost item of the same type. Still other companies, including my employer, will refund the purchase price via gift card, so the product can be replaced, or not, as the end user sees fit.

What is covered, or not covered? Most companies won't cover physical damage, but some do. Screen damage is actually LIKELY on a PDA or notebook computer. I have referred people to other retailers when they express concern about screen damage. Cameras are often dropped. Would that be covered?

Even if physical damage is not covered, anything with buttons and/or connectors can suffer significant wear-and-tear.

Some computer warranties (Dell's, for instance) are voided if you don't purchase parts directly from the manufacturer. So if you are getting the warranty on a new computer, make sure you read the fine print. Usually computer warranties are cheaper than one repair, even if you have a buddy who can fix anything. Your buddy won't pay for parts, and his/her time is worth something, as well.

Is this purchase a gift? If it doesn't raise the cost above your budget, an extended warranty improves the value of the gift significantly. It tells the recipient that you care enough about them to ensure the gift will be useful for a long time, rather than giving them a novelty and saying, "here's your gift...good luck."

Lastly, the more moving parts and item has, the more likely it is to break down. Portable devices contain nothing but moving parts. Even if they are not moving within the device, they are moving from one location to another, and that causes wear-and-tear.

Monitors have virtually no moving parts, so they probably will be fine if they last out the original warranty.

Fax machines have very few moving parts...well that's not really true anymore. Most Fax machines have a printer with plenty of moving parts, and they are susceptible to phone-line surges. I would not buy a fax machine without some sort of extended coverage.

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Are the extended warranties worth it? It depends!
by Starman35 / December 6, 2005 9:21 PM PST

I completely agree with this. Most electronic devices either work for a long time, or they fail quickly, in my experience. Same goes with major appliances. However, when I bought a new Samsung refrigerator (I'd never tried that brand before) I bought the Best Buy extended service plan for $150.00. That was the best $150 I ever spent, because when the reefer broke, BB couldn't fix it, so they replaced it with a new $1800 refrigerator. Not once, but twice, with the second one also needing a new $150 service plan. (The second replacement has worked flawlessly for 2 yrs now). Given all the problems with laptops, I'd probably buy one for a laptop as well.

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Must consider use model and utility duration
by sitkom / December 7, 2005 12:16 AM PST

Very, very rarely do extended warranties make sense in consumer electronics due primarily to the 'burn rate' of new product that appears on the market to replace the prior years' offerings.

In many cases, specifically in my case, the typical gizmo has about an 18 month utility, after which I have gotten all the good there is to get out of the device and I'm ready for a new or different one. In this scenario, it would never make sense to buy an extended warranty unless the manufacturer has no quality track-record to support an 18 month useful life.

There are a few exceptions. Those devices that you plan to keep for a long period of time... say 4 years(Stereo/Amplifiers/Plasma/LCD TVs, etc.) or those that will have a high duty cycle or operate in harsh environments (high $$ home office equipment, mobile devices and laptops). It follows logically that harsh use models and environments will conspire to increase the likelyhood of a reliability-related failure. But to make a blanket-statement that all items that fall in these categories should have an extended warranty would be irresponsible. Some warranties are extremely costly (30+% of the purchase price) or prey on consumers fears or urban legends regarding product quality or specific problematic components... my favorite happens to be the broken LCD paranoia in laptops.

Anyway, the long & the short of it is: save your money unless you know that you have a better than 50/50 chance of taking advantage of the benefits of the warranty.

Happy shopping!

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Are extended warranties worth it?
by BludBaut / April 2, 2010 5:34 AM PDT

Having read about half of the "Never buy extended warranties" posts, let me say, you should probably *always* buy extended warranties on hard drives. But, read the warranties for the specifics, e.g., I only buy hard drives under $100 and I always get the two year warranties and I buy my hard drives from Office Depot. Result, I get a two year extension on the warranty and if it fails, I get *all* the money back to use to against a new drive. That 20% insurance pays very well, especially if I buy a Seagate with a five year warranty. I have 83 months for it to fail and if it does, I've had a hard drive for all that time for $20 plus tax.

I'm sure you know that if your drive fails without an extended warranty, and you send it back to Seagate, you'll pay shipping and you'll get a used, refurbed drive even if the new one you shipped them was only 40 days old. Since I've never done that, I don't know their warranty on the 2nd drive.

Extended warranties on hard drives are a no-brainer to me.

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extended warranties
by kdsmithjr / December 8, 2005 2:59 AM PST

I agree with you...mostly. Extended warranties practically scream that the product is shoddy, i.e., it wont last much past the manufacturer's warranty. That being said, if I knew that a product had a defect (or word on the street said so), I'd get the extended warranty for precisely the reason you state, i.e., you KNOW are going to use the warranty and that paying a pittance now will say you in the long run and, based on what you know, you are not taking a gamble at all.

Btw, at Best Buy, there IS a disclaimer in their extended warranties that limit relief to ONE time only. After that the extended warranty is considered filled and void.

In a general sense, though, extenended warranties are a waste of money.

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It's simple math...
by yourfeetstink / December 8, 2005 4:56 AM PST

If an item costs $1000 and the extended warranty is $100 and the warranty period is one year then you must believe that one out of 10 items will go bad within the year.

Generally this is not the case and the manufacturer original warranty is plenty. If you are abusive or clumsy or the item will be in a higher risk environment then you may want to consider purchasing the extended warranty.

The money you save from not buying warranties will far out weigh the money you may potentially spend if the item goes bad.

Also being the techno geek I am, I find myself replacing my old items as soon as the next gadget comes out and selling my old one on ebay or to a friend.

Good luck,


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by DEVSPR / December 6, 2005 9:42 AM PST

I got one for a $400 HP printer and used it. Printers are notorious for breakdowns.

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if only it covered ink
by xiLLeNtz / December 6, 2005 12:36 PM PST
In reply to: Warranties

if the ink cartridge was covered by warranty then id probablly buy a 2year extended warranty.

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Really depends
by jarizona / December 6, 2005 9:57 AM PST

If it is an expensive item with a short warranty period, then I first question the quality of the product and then decide if I want the extended warranty. A monitor.... no way.... a digital camera ... probably!!!

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Extended Service Plans
by JFielding61 / December 6, 2005 10:03 AM PST

As a store technician at a large office supply chain store, I handle the paperwork and repairs for both warranty work and extended service plan coverage. Generally speaking, buying a extended service on a desktop computer is less of a good deal than buying coverage on a laptop. The primary reason is the cost of replacement parts. Most desktop computers can use off-the-shelf parts for repair, and prices have dropped so much for PCs, that the extended service plan wouldn't appeal to a lot of people. With the life cycle of computers becoming shorter as they get faster and cheaper, taking your chances on a desktop PC with the manufacturer's limited warranty is sufficient in many cases. Laptops, however, are a different story. With almost no user-replaceable parts, and the cost of those parts usually dramatically higher than their desktop equivalents, coverage for a laptop is almost a necessity. Factor in screen replacement, which is easily a $600 repair bill, and that seals the deal. So, think twice about desktop coverage, but don't hesitate to get an extended service plan on your laptop.

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laptops are a definite yes!
by jennesy / December 6, 2005 10:13 AM PST
In reply to: Extended Service Plans

I'd definitely agree about getting the extended warranty on a laptop. I've used mine many times. Once when the disk drive malfunctioned, once when the power cord died and needed to get replaced, when the keyboard needed to get replaced, an attempt to get the screen repaired (a few pixels were burnt out - didn't work, but it was worth a shot!). Basically, the extended warranty is definitely worth it for a laptop. It pays off. Best Buy (and maybe other stores, too) will give you a pro-rated refund on your warranty if you want to cancel it. Now most laptops also come with spill/no questions asked warranties - which would have been wonderful 5 years ago when I spilled an entire glass of water on my laptop and killed it.

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Extended Warranty for laptops
by jresh / December 6, 2005 10:33 AM PST

I generally consider maintenance agreements and extended warrantys a total ripoff, but I completely agree with forking over the extra bucks for a warranty on a laptop. Getting a new battery each year more than pays for it, and any number of things can go wrong with a laptop anyway. Considering the cost of the thing, the insurance is cheap peace of mind.

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laptop extended svc
by ecifelli / December 6, 2005 11:59 PM PST
In reply to: Extended Service Plans

I have to agree 1000% on the laptop warranty. I bought a new laptop about 4 yrs ago. About 4 months later I sent it to the shop as the battery was not holding a charge. They replaced the battery and it worked until I ran the battery down once and charged it back up. Would only go to about 80% and ran down very quickly. I contacted the Repair Center (I knew the manager from her previous employer) and she said to return it. They replaced the battery again. Come the end of the warranty period, I bought the extended service plan and they have replaced a $180 battery at least 4 times and repaired a damaged hinge at a total cost to me of $300 for 3 years of svc plans. I think I got my money's worth. The battery was twice the cost of the service plan.

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Extended warranties are great
by LionsMike / December 6, 2005 10:13 AM PST

I love the practice. If a manufacturer knows that he will be repairing or replacing his products with no income to accompany the service; You can bet that he will build the product to last.
I love the extended warranties because other people pay the manufacturer to make a good reliable product and I don't have to but the extended warranty.
It is extremely difficult and expensive to build an Item which will work fine for 6 months and then suddenly fail. Most products fail in the first 1% of life expectancy or last for several years before failing.
The extended warranties encourage the manufacturer to build a product which will live beyond the several years the people buy extended warranties for.
I bought a FAX machine for $20.00 at a stores grand opening sale it was a limited quantity sale at 80% off. For $5.00 I extended the warranty to 3 years. at that kind of price, I buy the warranty, but in general it is just not worh paying the price.

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Check your credit card
by George Tetley / December 6, 2005 10:14 AM PST

Some credit cards offer an extended warranty as part of the benefit of using them. Check your card's terms and conditions.

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Extended warranty on MasterCard Platinum
by kurtpochert / December 6, 2005 10:31 AM PST
In reply to: Check your credit card

I had a laptop computer that failed at the two year mark. I paid for it with my MasterCard in an online order. To repair the machine it was a standard all inclusive (shipping both ways) $300 charge, regardless of what was wrong. It took a little more than a month for the manufacturer to repair the machine, but all turned out well with the repaired computer, paid for with my MasterCard of course. THEN I submitted a claim to MasterCard. All documents that you might expect, from orig. one year warranty to final payment of repair, about eight documents total, were able to be scanned and emailed to the claims dept. A few weeks later - a check reinbursing for the $300 repair charge! Yes, some effort on my part, and a bit of patience, but very pleasant results. A second year of warranty with my use of my MasterCard.

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Extended warranty with credit cards
by Starman35 / December 6, 2005 9:27 PM PST

This benefit is also available with Gold & Platinum Visa, as well as from American Express. I've personally used the warranty from AMEX a couple of times, & each time, they were great, sending me a check in the mail for the item within 2 weeks.

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Extended warranty with credit cards
by shooter9mm / October 4, 2008 8:39 AM PDT

I called Sears Gold mastercard, ATT platinum and BOTH said this does not apply, does anyone know what year it went out ?

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