Warranty Fail (Part I): The Source

It seems today that you can get an extended warranty for anything and everything.  I swear I’ve walked out with an extension chord and the cashier asked if I would like an extended 3 year warranty for only another $5.  Ummm, no thanks.

I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with warranties – mostly bad experiences.  I didn’t lose too much money either time, but I sure was pissed off.

I also learned an important lesson.  The warranty is marketed as protection for the customer, but really, it’s protection for the retailer.  Whenever I think of a warranty in those terms, I can more accurately gauge if I really need a warranty – most times, the answer is no.

Since my earlier days as a naive and gullible customer, I have learned a few lessons.  I wanted to share with my readers 2 of my worst warranty experiences with the above mentioned retailer (Part 2 featuring Best Buy is coming up – it was too long for one post!).

The Source

I bought my 3-year contract $0 phone while browsing The Source.  Silly? Probably.

I was with my sister and I remember asking the sales rep a gazillion questions.  The one I remember most clearly, was the question regarding what the extended warranty covered for my phone.

The Source sales rep told me my warranty covered everything except water damage. He said, if I dropped my phone on the road, and a car ran over it, bring in the peices in a Ziploc bag and The Source will replace it for me.

I can’t make this stuff up.  I was sold. So, I signed up for my extended warranty (with a picture of a smashed up cellphone in my mind) and feeling complete peace of mind.

2 Years Later…

Fast forward two years, and the button for music player on my cell phone is broken.  No biggie.  In my head, I thought that if  The Source was willing to fix my runned down cell phone, for sure, they could fix a simple button.

Wrong.

The sales rep took half a glance at my phone and told me it wasn’t covered.  He didn’t even bother checking my file or anything. I asked to speak with his manager.  The manager took one look at my phone and told me the same thing.

Of course, I was confused.  I asked him how he knew it wasn’t covered and asked if he could be please check my file.  He tells me that there is no need to check my file because their general warranty does not cover “physical damage.”

Ummm.  What?!

I told him that I was told my warranty covered everything except water damage.  And what did he mean by “physical damage’?

Apparently, “physical damage” is wear and tear and general deterioration from just using your phone.  (Umm.  Duh.  That’s why I bought a warranty, right?!)  Apparently, what the warranty does cover, is if your phone just suddenly died.

I was very angry at this point.  I told the manager the sales rep told me that if my phone got run over by a car, I could bring in the pieces and I could get a new one.  The manager then asked me to find the sales associate.

W.T.F.?! Right??

At that point, I realized what had happened.  I was duped.  The sales associate had simply lied to me about the warranty, two years ago.  The warranty is worthless. There was nothing that I could do now.  I called them a bunch of liars and stormed out of the store – vowing never to return.

Then I went home and just super glued my buttons back together.  Yay, me.

Conversation with an Ex-Futureshop/Best Buy Employee

A friend of a friend used to work at one of the big box electronic stores and pretty much laughed in my face when I told him my sob story. (I guess it was pretty stupid.)

He then explained that sales associates make a huge commission (up to 40%) on the sale of a warranty and that’s why most of them will say anything to make the sale.  Yep, even lie.

His advice was to only get a warranty if a touch screen was involved.  Likely, the screen will malfunction before the warranty is up and then you can get a new one.  I haven’t tried this, though.

Conclusion

Luckily, this wasn’t a super expensive lesson.  In fact, since I got a $100 instant rebate, I used $50 of that towards the warranty itself.  And I learned that warranties likely protect the retailer more than it protects the customer.  I learned to always get things in writing and to read the fine print, and never take anything verbal as the final agreement.

I’m sure that if I did those things, I would have realized sooner rather than later, that I was being scammed.

Having said that, that is NO EXCUSE for The Source (and other retailers who are doing the same thing) to outright LIE to their customers.  That is unacceptable to me and I have not gone back to The Source since.  I have decided to boycott them and go elsewhere for my electronic needs.

What are you warranty experiences?  I would love to hear both good and bad experiences.  And do you have any tips to share?

Cheers,

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Warranty Fail (Part I): The Source

  1. ugh. My husband bought a brand new diesel 1 ton truck (no wonder we have debt) and the engine/tranny were covered for 5yrs or 100,000km. When the truck was 4yrs old it started to have a hesitation grabbing second gear. My husband brought it in, the mechanic drove it and said it was fine. It started to get worse and my husband brought it in again 3 months before warrany was up and the mechanic said it was fine again. A day after warranty was up his truck would no longer grab second gear at all. My husband brought it in for the 3rd time and mechanic said the transmission needed to be replaced. My husband tried to make warranty cover it considering he had been in twice before but the mechanic refused and said there was nothing on his file saying the truck had ever been in. Cost of transmission = $6,000. I don’t mind buying a used vehicle without warranty; less headaches.

  2. I never get warranties, not even for bigger things like my ipod, or my ibook, and it turned out fine. I bought a warranty for my camera that I never used, and at the time of purchase, when the SA saw that I hesitated with his offer, he immediately reduced the price of the warranty by 50%. It should’ve alerted me to the watered-down nature of the warranty, but it didn’t.

    One REALLY embarrasing story… when I was in high school, I bought a 10 dollar wire mouse with a 15 dollar warranty. I think it was from either the Source or Radioshack. The thing that sold me on it was that the SA told me that the warranty is good for life, that they’ll automatically replace my mouse for me in case of ANYTHING, no questions asked…. I never used the warranty because the mouse never broke, and my new computers came with new mice. But when I told a friend of mine of this story, he laughed and told me that I was probably the cooler-joke of the week at the Radioshack for being so gullible.

    The outright lieing is inexcusable. Thanks for sharing your friend’s (who worked at a tech retailer) insight.

  3. I actually have a post in the works about how I always buy the extended warranties on my Apple products, even though I’ve never had to use them. My phone still has 1 year of warranty left on it and I’m going to buy the warranty for my macbook air as well.

    • I’ve heard people have good experience with Apple warranties.

      My iPod touch is actually a little finicky now. I should look into the 1-year parts and labour warranty.

      • GravityRush

        I’ve had insanely good warranty with apple. I’ve had my phone replaced 4 times because my screen was cracked. I’ve also had good warranty with The Source, my Galaxy S3 had a cracked screen and it was replaced without any questions asked. Guess it pays to have friends in the right places. :)

  4. Well that just sucks! There’s nothing I hate more than poor customer service! Ugh!! My hubby is big on buying extra warranties, I’m not. I always tell the saleserson I expect them to stand behind their product, regardless and if they won’t I’ll go elsewhere. Remember the days when stores stood behind their products for the sole reason that it was the right thing to do!?

  5. Wow that is unbelievably horrible. I need to make a note to always get it in writing if I get a warranty – crazy!

    Big box electronic stores are horrid for that. Future shop, best buy, the source, you name it, they suck. Believe it or not, walmart isn’t bad when it comes to thier warranty, but at the end of the day, the manufacturers warranty is always plenty.

    I’m sorry you had to go through that! Hopefully somebody from the Source sees this, and similar complaints, and prevents it from happening again!

    • I was going to link to them on Twitter but couldn’t find their Twitter account.

      I don’t really care what they do about it. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and the least I could do is spread the word so that no ones else falls into the same trap that I did.

  6. josh

    hi there. just because you had that experience at one store, dont label all stores like that, and from the sounds of things you had purchased the base warranty as there are 2 levels of warranty one which usually costs about 69.99 and only covers defects and another. the acp + which is about 149.99 it has all the same benifits of the base warranty, but it also includes one free messup(i.e water damage, broken screen, etc)
    The source actually offers one of the best warranties in canada

    • josh

      and it almost sounds like you live in amherst

    • You’re right, it might have been specific to that one store, but sometimes, that one experience is enough to turn a customer off. There are so many other places that I can shop where I am treated better, that I don’t really have a reason to go back to give it another chance. If they really do offer the best warranties in Canada, then I don’t understand why my warranty was not honoured.

      • not alone...

        Seems like this is still active so I’ll reply. Sorry to say but I just had the same experience. I normally don’t reply on blogs and what not, but this experience has turned me off from The Source also. The sales rep told me that this $150-ish warranty (sorry, I don’t remember the exact cost but I have the receipt at home if you REALLY want me to reply with the cost) covered me for a one-time replacement, no questions asked and for any reason. I don’t even have to like the phone in 3 years and I’d get a new one.. and if they don’t carry it I’d get the next model up. I thought it was great! But it was too good to be true. Fast forward one year… phone got water damaged… when I brought it in they told me it had to go to a repair center. That’s fine… so I waited 2 weeks then called for an update. They said it’s normal for it to take 2 weeks just to get the phone to the repair center. I got fed up with not having a phone because I had to move to a different city for work and that’s the only phone I have so I bought a replacement phone. Note to everyone THE SOURCE DOES NOT PROVIDE PHONES WHEN THEY ARE FIXING YOURS (keep that in mind anyone reading). 4 weeks later (so today actually) I get a call saying that they have my phone but it’s not fixed because water damage isn’t covered. I GOT DUPED TOO!!! Well, the only person to blame is myself to be honest. You can never trust sales reps and always have to read everything yourself and more importantly… get everything they say in writing and signed by them and their manager so when you go back you have written proof. That should force The Source to honour it… or at least scare the sales rep enough to tell you the truth!

        Thx fabulouslyfrugirl for writing about your experience so I could share mine =).

  7. Hi there, not alone,

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through the same thing, I totally understand your frustration! Just so you know, I remember The Source specifically excluding water damage from my warranty, though, and I think it is common practice to exclude water damage in electronic warranties. There is usually a water detection chip in the electronic and it changes colour once it comes in contact with water, and that’s how they know – even if the device is dry.

    I know it doesn’t help now, but just something to keep in mind for your next warranty. If they tell you it includes water damage, make sure it’s in writing and clearly stated!

  8. Hussein

    I had bad experience with the source too. I bought the iphone 4s. He bagged me to buy the warranty for $150. He told me if anything happens to the phone bring it back to the source and we will replace it with new 1 and if we dont have the phone you will get a newer model. 8 months later the screen on my phone shattered i went to the source same person that sold me warranty he tried telling me nothing he can do. Told him your the one that sold me the fuking warranty and here is my receipt he says oh sorry. We have to ship the phone out and you come pick up the new phone in 5-10 business days. Told him you said ill get new phone on the spot. He saysI didnt say that thats the last time i buy warranty from source. . Thats the whole reason i bought the warranty you dumb [edited by moderator]

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