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WarrantyLife building online shoebox for warranties

When your tech breaks, go to this new service to see if you still quality for free service on it.

The hard drive in my MacBook died last week. It was a Seagate drive I bought about a year ago after I outgrew the drive the laptop came with. I think it's still covered under warranty, but I'm not sure. Should I do the research to find out, and then try to deal with finding the receipt to get it replaced, or just suck it up and get on with my life?

With a new service, WarrantyLife, I might be able to make that decision based on actual information, instead of just taking the lazy route and throwing the bad drive out. This service, which I got a look at today at the Launch: Silicon Valley event, could become a Tripit for your product warranties (see also: Gazaro, a Tripit for receipts). It keeps track of all the warranties you have on products you buy and can help you get the warranty service you're entitled to on the products you own.

WarrantyLife CEO Richard Hui Rafe Needleman/CNET

WarrantyLife CEO Richard Hui told me there will be three ways to get warranties into the service. You can, of course, enter in purchase information manually. Nobody's going to do that. An upcoming (about six weeks out) mobile app will do bar-code and OCR scanning of receipts to enter in warranty info directly. Finally, WarrantyLife is doing deals with retailers to get copies of sales receipts on behalf of consumers, which is the best way to get the data.

If you can't find the receipt, you might need to claim service, WarrantyLife can, in some cases, replace it. Receipts and online transactions can come with one-time codes that can attach to product purchase record. Hui says that his business customers are very interested in this aspect, since, he says, receipt fraud is a "$9 billion problem in the U.S." The service can also help consumers transfer warranties to others if they give away or sell a product they have.

I'd like to see a way to e-mail receipts from online retailers to my personal WarrantyLife account or perhaps a deal with OtherInBox, so they could get grabbed automatically from my e-mail accounts. Hui said he'd consider it...later.

WarrantyLife is valuable to consumers since it knows for how long a warranty on a product is good, and it will tell you when a product is nearing the end of its coverage. It's good for resellers since it's a value-added service that increases engagement with customers.

But most importantly, it's valuable to WarrantyLife (and other partners) since it can be used very effectively to sell extended warranties. The service tells you not just when a warranty on a product is about to run out, but when eligibility for buying the extended plan is going to expire. In the United States (the company is Canadian), WarrantyLife will be offering extended warranties from WarranTech.

This business' success hinges on first, getting resellers on board, which Hui says is going well so far. Hui's team also needs to convince users of the value of the service, and then remind them that it exists from time to time. Otherwise they'll end up right where they are now: Sitting on a valuable assets--product warranties--that they don't know how to cash in on.

WarrantyLife keeps track of when your warranties are due to expire... so it can sell you extended warranties. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

See also these extended warranty companies: SquareTrade and GreenUmbrella (story).