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!).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?