I warrant you'll be wantin' a warranty
"Extended Warranty, how could I lose?!"
Okay, fine, so we all know about the dreaded 'extended warranty' on a car. It ranks up there with 'undercoating.'
But in this increasingly electronics-filled society, aren't warranties becoming almost second nature? And shouldn't they be?
Some say no. Liz Pulliam Weston believes that, other than laptops, extended warranties aren't a good use of your money. That's because laptops are far more difficult to fix yourself. On the other hand, I suppose, most people know someone who can help with a PC.
I guess this makes sense, but a lot depends on your situation. When my computer went kablooey, I was doing contract work to make ends meet. (Or, to be more precise, to make the ends be less far apart.) The state of Washington was giving me $330 a month; my mom was helping me with the rest of my rent; and I had about $100 in food stamps each month. So that contract work, even when it was only $60 a week, was a big deal.
In other words, I couldn't go without a computer. I found Best Buy had some eMachines with incredible rebates. But since I needed the money upfront, I opened a 0% Best Buy card, giving me a 6-month window to get the rebate checks and slowly pay down the balance. The end cost was around $250 for the actual computer.
But because even $250 was difficult to cough up, I knew that if this computer died I'd be in big trouble. I wouldn't be able to get 0% a second time, and I didn't know anyone who was PC-savvy. So I invested in the 2-year warranty.
Just the peace of mind the warranty offered was worth it.
But if you are in a position where you can save up relatively quickly for a cheap computer -- or you know someone who can likely fix it for you -- you probably regard the extended warranty with suspicion.
Then there are things that aren't so easily fixed: MP3 players, audio equipment, video game consoles.
I guess the question is: How much do you need to spend before you're willing to protect it for an extra two years?
For me, the decision comes down to how much a replacement would be, versus the assurance I have that the item will last. For example, my vacuum cleaner came with a three-year warranty. I think that's acceptable. On the other hand, if it's only going to cost $10 to get an extra year or two out of a $20 MP3 player, why not go for it?
A lot of people (including some store employees) encourage you to take advantage of the warranty process. Some warranties aren't pledging to fix items -- they are pledging to replace them. So if your camera spontaneously "breaks" toward the end of your warranty, you'll get a gift card for the purchase price. And then you have a brand new camera. Personally, this kind of thing makes me a little queasy. But I'm a tad too honest, I suppose.
Have you ever taken this approach? Do you buy warranties on your electronics? Are PC warranties a total waste of money?