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Are extended warranties worth it?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 5, 2007 6:21 AM PST

Are extended warranties worth it?

Yes, I always buy them. (Have they paid off?)
No, they're a rip-off! (Please explain why.)
It depends on the price of the item. (Please explain.)

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They CAN be really worth it!
by encycloman / December 5, 2007 8:41 AM PST

Those nice little displays on PDA's can burn out without notice. And built-in batteries can fail as well. I find that for the usually not-too-expensive extra, it is well worth the money. I had to return an MP3 player after the screen burned, and got a brand-new one with no hassle, and no "ship it in for evaluation" to the manufacturer. Certainly, you don't have to buy the package, but then you are left with having to give the unit up, do without for whatever time it takes. My Creative Labs MP3 player was a bear to deal with, butbeing able to get a quick replacement was well worth it.

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by lobo65 / December 5, 2007 8:53 AM PST

I never buy them. They're not worth the paper they are printed on most of the time, and people get suckered in because they don't read the fine print. The only instances I would buy and extended warranty would be for a laptop computer, a treadmill, or a rear projection HDTV. Since I don't own any of those items, and don't plan on it, I will continue to do my research, and buy brands that have proven reliability records.

When I've had issues with my desktop computer, I have paid a local shop to do the repairs. The repairs were done the next day, and the small cost was worth not having to ship it some repair center in another state.

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It depends...
by BigGuns149 / December 5, 2007 1:13 PM PST
In reply to: Nope

I would agree with you that most retail store warranties aren't that good, but depending upon the failure rate of the product, the conditions of the warranty, how you use the product, the cost of the product and the cost of the warranty it may be worth it.

You are absolutely right that most people don't read the fine print. Unless the company is committing fraud they are worth exactly what the paper says they are worth nothing more and nothing less. Unless you have it in writing I would be skeptical of any claims that a warranty covers data recovery or software troubleshooting.

The people who are most likely to buy them are the people that are least likely to put the wear and tear that would cause components to wear out. Furthermore most noobs buy them on proven technology as opposed to cutting edge stuff where the reliability is less known.

On desktops though you are absolutely correct. The newer chips run cooler and hence are significantly less likely to overheat. Heat is one of the biggest killer of hardware. Poor airflow was more likely to fry the processor or other components back on the now defunct Pentium IVs. The newer Core2s use far less watts which generates less heat. Hence, the failure rates have definitely fallen. More importantly repairs on desktops tend to be much cheaper. The parts are cheaper and easier to acquire and far more people have the capability to repair a laptop.

The vast majority of warranty plans don't make sense, but there are some cases like refurbs or laptops where they might make sense.

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They really can!
by RowanCUK / December 5, 2007 9:00 AM PST

We never used to buy warrenties, but of late got tired of things breaking down just out of manufactors guarentee. The last 3 years we started saying that if something cost over

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Check your home power
by joswearingen / December 5, 2007 11:57 PM PST
In reply to: They really can!

It seems to me that you have had more than your share of problems with electronic devices. Power surges can cause them to fail prematurely, and they may also behave strangely.

My daughter lived in a nearly new apartment building located near a factory. At the same time each weekday evening, her stereo system would turn itself on. What caused it? A huge power surge in the lines at the end of the factory shift each day.

Have you considered checking your home's wiring? Perhaps an inexpensive whole-house surge protector would be a better buy than an extended warranty! At between $50 and $500, it's cheap insurance.

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Warranty: but from who..
by davecn / December 5, 2007 9:19 AM PST

Yes, just bought a laptop, and the warranty you can get, especially with the personal touch help offered by HP, is worth it.. To be clear, that is FROM HP.. NO STORE WARRANTIES FOR ME .. thank you.
Once been down the road with them and the time frame is ridiculous to get a repair done. Hassle hassle.
So, research on who is putting out the warranty is as important as the research into the item, as they are often costly.
ON the other hand......
Looking at the depreciation of my not 9 mo old HP,, and how fast the
Core2Duo dropped in price,, well, maybe money would have been better set aside for a replacement: should disaster occur.. roll the dice..

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Extended Warranties
by kyrhett / December 5, 2007 9:48 PM PST

The best warranties I have seen are offered by Walmart which begin after the manufactuer warranty expires. And are sold at a very reasonable price.

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They CAN be worth it...but usually aren't
by slanders / December 6, 2007 1:02 AM PST

I usually avoid the extended warranty. Most electronics with few or no moving parts don't break down...and if there will be problems, they typically show up almost immediately.
That said, I was once "talked into" purchasing the extended warranty for a DVD player. The rational was that the warranty was cheaper than a single visit to the repair store and that the laser in the DVD players typically goes out of alignment within the extended warranty period. I bought it...and within a year-and-a-half used it. The extended warranty (in that case) definitely paid for itself.

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Sometimes YES
by Alan Petsche / December 5, 2007 8:44 AM PST

I normally don't buy extended warranties. If a product (like a computer) fails it's usually within the manufacuters warranty time. However, I purchased a treadmill many years ago from Sears. In a fit of weakness, I purchased the extended warranty. Over time the treadmill "runner" got off center and cracked the base unit rendering it unusable. It sat in the garage waiting to be taken to the dumps. Last year, I was cleaning out drawers and found the old extended warranty that still had ONE WEEK left. I called Sears, they came out and provided a brand new "runner", base unit, and checked all the functions. Bottom line is that I now have a like new treadmill (that I promise I will use shortly....)

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Extended Warranties
by The_Corona_Guy / December 5, 2007 9:05 AM PST
In reply to: Sometimes YES

I used to work at a store that sold them, and we were never commissioned on the sale of them. I've sold many valued at $5.99 on a $6.99 calculator using the reasoning "You'll be saving $1 should it fail during the second year!" People always seem to buy them if its being replaced just shortly after the manfacturer's warranty expired.

I'll *ALWAYS* buy them on my laptops even tho I take very good care of them. I once owned a Toshiba that required a number of repairs and after a few claims the Extended Warranty Company found it too costly to fix the laptop and decided to buy me out rather than repair it yet again. I took my Refund money and bought an even more powerful Sony that had DVD-RW abilities, (the refund amount was about $600 less than what I originally paid for my Toshiba) I'd say I came out quite ahead in that deal!! 8-)

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Extended Warranties
by Dave White / December 5, 2007 8:50 AM PST

I have found that when ever I had bought into one the item did not go out until one month after the end of the warranty usually speaking. Also due to the fast moving pace of monitors, tv's and home theater systems and the fact that the cost of these items are becoming more affordable it only makes sense to up grade your system periodically. Point of fact is that I gave my IBM Desktop to my sister in law about four years ago after upgrading to a gateway and she still has it and it still works. It has the original monitor, mother board, graphics card, power unit and drives. I owned the IBM for seven years prior to giving it to her which means the electrical items are way out of warranty and still going strong.

As Always

Dave White

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Only in One Circumstance
by dougjp / December 5, 2007 8:53 AM PST

I say the answer is no, except when the product has water always running through it when its on.

In other words, always buy an extended warranty for a washer and dishwasher! Man has that one ever paid off for me, whereas the rest have been a waste of money.

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I'd buy it for certain high ticket items
by sgtsandworm / December 5, 2007 9:00 AM PST

Some warranties out there now allow for an in-store credit if you don't use it, so that may be worth it in the long run. I got the extended warranty on my LCD screen, which I think I regret, but we'll see in 3 years how it's holding up. I always get it on my fridge and washing machine though, and I have had a fridge go bad on me, which was fixed and a small credit given to me because of the lost food, so that was a good purchase.

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Generally I do not buy..
by chrisfong1 / December 5, 2007 9:06 AM PST

extended warranty = insurance + their profit

However, if my claim liekelihood is more than average, then it is cheap insurance and I consider buying.

-phone insurance for my mother who loses a phone every 6mo.,
-tread mill where I probably have significantly above-average use,

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It depends
by rbsjrx / December 5, 2007 8:56 AM PST

First of all, you need to understand the failure mechanisms of the specific device.

Purely electronic devices with no fragile parts will exhibit an elevated infant mortality rate, then level off to long-term reliability well within the standard warranty period. For such devices, extended warranties are a waste of money.

Devices with fragile pieces (e.g. LCD displays, key switches) may be good candidates for extended warranties if their repair or replacement cost is significant.

Devices with electromechanical components (e.g. disk drives, tape units) are usually worth the extra cost unless they're cheap enough to be considered disposable.

Finally, a lot depends on the manufacturer. For example, Sony's repair costs are so high, I'd never buy any Sony product without an extended warranty. When a Sony product breaks, if you don't have a warranty on it, you pretty much have no choice but to throw it away since the repair cost typically exceeds the replacement cost.

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Depends on what is inside what you bought
by Paul Kimelman / December 5, 2007 8:58 AM PST

I think extended warranties on all electronic items are usually a waste. Items with internal mechanical parts can be worth it, but only if (a) you will remember to use it, (b) it covers wear based failure, and (c) the likely lifespan of use vs. obsolescence justifies it. The latter one is why so many are a waste - people often replace items for other reasons before they fail; usually because it is obsolete technically or because their lifestyle changes.
Loss/damage ones on portable items may be a good idea if you tend to lose/damage such items a lot and the cost is acceptable - cell phones are one example where that can be a big payoff. With a cell phone on a contract, having to replace it will cost the full price (or you owe them the full price of the broken one). If you are the type to drop them a lot, sooner or later it will break (the circuit boards and plastic housings can only take so much abuse).

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Depends more on product than price
by wmmead / December 5, 2007 8:59 AM PST

I have bought them from time to time, depending on the product. Laptop? yes usually. Desktop computer? no. My son's gameboy? yes, cause my son will probably break it in a week. A washing machine? no. An accoustic guitar for my son? yes, see above. So it depends. You really can not be blind-sided by the question at this point though. When you are researching what you are going to buy and from whom, decided if the extra warrantee is necessary at that time. That way you have the answer when the question comes.

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sort of,....
by strongwinds / December 5, 2007 1:36 PM PST

I usually don't buy extended warranty on items because I can't afford them. so i usually say if anything goes wrong I'll fix it my self. Happy
but if you donb't know how to fix these types of item's then I say buy it!

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Are extended warranties worth it - I don't think so!
by Jon Combs / December 5, 2007 7:11 PM PST

In the 1960's when extended warranties first came in over here in the UK I was an insurance broker who set these schemes up as insurance policies at Lloyd's. In those days we were charging premiums of

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Sometimes worth it
by kfoulk / December 5, 2007 9:01 AM PST

I have young kids so I normally buy extended warranties on game systems. I did it on their gameboy and vtech system and both of those paid off. Now when they say "do you want an extended warranty" on a DVD player that cost $75, and the price of the warranty is $39 are they even thinking when they ask you? I have gotten the 5 year extended warranty on my TV that cost over $3000, my imac computer over $2000, my vacuum cleaner (which I have used 3 times in the last 2 years...the warranty that is). High end items I do not mind paying a little more for piece of mind.

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Depends on what it is!!!
by mdpeterman / December 5, 2007 9:07 AM PST
In reply to: Sometimes worth it

On a DVD player or something a couple hundred, FORGET IT! They are usually a rip off. Now, I recently bought a MacBook Pro which cost me $2500. I bought the extended warranty because it will be going a lot of places and vibrations and things can ware out a computer fast. For $250, it can easily cover the cost of a repair so I figured for 10% of the retail price, I better get it to be safe. I recommend extended warranties for thing $1000 and up.

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Extended warranties -- never!
by rdg / December 5, 2007 9:05 AM PST

In forty plus years, I have never had need for an extended warranty: either something goes wrong immediately, or not at all.

Also, so much of what we buy today, will be antiquated tomorrow.

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like everything it depends
by veniceneon / December 5, 2007 9:05 AM PST

For instance if you are buying a new technology product prone to failure but you need that product then depending on the cost of the coverage and if the company producing the product is providing the coverage, then possibly yes.

Or the same product but the extended warranty is with another specialty extended, known crappy service, company like so many of them out there, then No.

And if the product is tried and true, has a reasonable track record and especially if the extended warranty company is a 3rd party specialty extended warranty company, then absolutely No.

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General Reply Yes they are worth it.
by piscesgo / December 5, 2007 9:05 AM PST

I just fried a laptop by plugging it into a hot USB, one month before the 3 yr. warranty expired. Although this was a good experience, I almost always buy them for two reasons. The replacement cost without a warranty is huge and secondly, goods are made to wear out or become obsolescent. With a warranty, you can get a few more years of use, instead of paying the new, going price when the product fails. I know it's tough to pay extra, after sales tax and upgrades but over the long term I think it is a net plus.

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I never buy them
by rj4856k / December 5, 2007 9:06 AM PST

I look at this way, I have saved hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars by not buying these warranties over the past 10 - 15 years. If by chance one or two of those products fails, the repair costs would still not exceed what I have saved. Just think back to all of the items that you have bought or will buy in the future, and think what you would have spent on the extended warranties.

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As usual, you have to think before making this decision
by ElectronicToys / December 5, 2007 9:14 AM PST

I always buy extended warranty's for laptops because they always break at some point or another and laptops are always very expensive to fix. I bought a 4 yr Mack warranty for $250 for my crappy Toshiba Satellite 1955-S803 which subsequently over the years required in EXCESS of $1500 in repairs (including the mother board once, the HD 3 times, 1 screen replacement, 1 screen bulb fix, and a case replacement which they have now sent out rebate forms for because it was such a problem....5 years later)!!!!!!

Now I'm looking at Camcorders. I see a lot of warranties being offered. I'm looking to spend in the area of $500 and Mack has them for $45-$55 while others have them for up to $200 (for 4 yrs)!!!!

Who in their right mind would pay $200 on a warranty for an item that costs $500? Sure the more expensive ones pay for shipping, but I try to buy reputable brands that shouldn't break down that often. I can't imagine it ever being possible that the $200 warranty will ever make up the $150 extra I would have to spend it for shipping costs. Moreover, (I've only had experience with Mack and Dell, and of course Dell is the leader in warranty exploitation) but with Mack, they did have local service centers that I could go to.

I'll pay an extra 10-15% (15% TOPS) for an extended warranty on an expensive item that lasts an additional of at least 3-4 years. But to pay upwards of 40%??? Those people have got to be out of their minds. And "NO! I do not want a 3 yr warranty for my $100 speakers for 'just' $39.99"

That being said, be warned. Often times if you see a really good low price for an item, be sure they will make it up in accessories such as warranties.Make sure if you are buying an item that might have a high failure rate (such as a camcorder since it is being transported so often) check a variety of price ranges plus the warranty to see how it all adds up.

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For me, its never a good idea
by Randomaxe / December 5, 2007 9:23 AM PST

Your Basically betting that you've just bought crap. While the retailer, is gambling that his products are better than a basic warranty. If you play this game its a suckers bet. I tell every salesman who tries to push an extended warranty on some item that if they really believe I'll need it. Then I'll go buy something else somewhere else. Where the sales staff is sure the product can work beyond the average life span. Lets face it, only a small percentage of products ever prematurely die. Why else would stores sell such warranties to begin with? Their making big bucks on these, its gonna break warranties, as I see it.

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No with exceptions
by arijlee7 / December 5, 2007 9:23 AM PST

For the most items, I have declined the extended warranty. There has been one exception that I can remember ever buying the extended warranty on the spot. That exception was on a '95 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That paid for itself many times over. For electronics, I usually trust the products and pray that I don't drop them.

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Warranties are just another money maker for the retailer
by jthelw / December 5, 2007 9:27 AM PST

My experience has usually been that the product goes bad just after the warranty expiration date! - Honest!

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It Depends on the Product
by adecena / December 5, 2007 9:28 AM PST

Depending on the product you purchase will determine if you should buy the extended warranty. Typically if the product is gong to fail, it will fail within the normal warranty. I tend to stay away from ext. warranties myself, but I have purchased them in the past. It's basically insurance for product. We bought a washer and dryer (LG Front End Loader combo) a year ago. I did my research and found that the particular model of washer has a tendency to have issues due to the high rate of speed during the spin cycle. Of course with more moving parts and high rpm's during the spin cycle, there is a chance for product failure. Now since the dryer isn't as complicated, product issues are less. So I bought the extended warranty for the washer, but not the dryer. It's been a little over a year and no issues to date.
Another thing to thing to consider... that extra money for the extended warranty is better served if invested. If you need to repair the item, at least you'll have something saved or better yet your product runs its normal life cycle and needs replacement, and you'll have the money for it... okay, okay, I have issues saving in this manner also. I'm just thinking out loud.

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