The best extended warranty money can’t buy
Did those playing at home notice something different about last week's post? That’s right, there wasn’t one. It was on the list of things to get done (which is still quite long thanks to the Dover incident). Then, all of a sudden, my computer was struck down with the blue screen of death. Many a computer has suffered this fate before it, few make it through to tell it’s binary tale.
With the computer nearing two years old and well and truly out of warranty the obvious fix to this problem is to swear a little, then either a) pay for the computer to be repaired or b) realise it is already out of date and stump up for a new one.
These options would indeed make this quite a short blog this week. Fear not avid readers, there’s too much Scottish blood coursing through these veins to accept either of these as the answer to my problem. My arms are too short and pockets too deep. So riding in on it’s shiny white horse to my rescue is Australian consumer law and it’s trusty sidekick, customer service.
Not enough people that realise since 2011 even if the manufacturer says there is a warranty for a certain period of time you may be entitled to service for longer than that. One of the most important reasons to realise this is it may make you think twice before buying overpriced extended warranties that don’t offer you anything more than you’re already entitled to.
The law states that you are entitled to have products repaired during the expected lifetime of a product (‘expected’ is a grey area and dependent on the type of product). My experience has been good customer service determines the ‘grey area’.
Take my computer. While the letter of the law states it is the retailer’s responsibility to handle my complaint, I know they are entitled to take the product and have it sent off for repair. As will lead to repair times outside of what I’m happy with, my first point of call has been the manufacturer (in this case, Dell).
The law states you cannot demand a repair from the manufacturer. In today’s age of social media and complaints becoming public very quickly though, companies such as Dell are always looking to maintain their brand image and I find are, while not always successfully, happy to try and appease their customers. After some attempted problem solving with their customer service team in Manilla not getting my computer back to fighting fit a service consultant was booked in to come and repair the computer the next day.
The hard drive was replaced (due to an error in judgement by the Manilla consultant, the software required to complete the repair didn’t turn up until Friday/Monday, so most of this blog has been written on Alison’s computer - thanks Honey :). The computer lives to fight another day, this being the second time they’ve sent someone when the computer was out of warranty (first time for a charging cable problem). I’m inconvenienced yes, but not out of pocket and the repair is completed much sooner than would’ve been likely going straight to the retailer.
We had another incident a few months ago when our three and a half year old Samsung fridge/freezer decided it would try out life as a cupboard. While I’m all for trying new things usually, storing goods that should be at -18 degrees at 5 degrees isn’t one of them.Murphy’s law dictates that should an event like this occur it must be 2 days after one has done the weekly shop.
Again, many a person might be tempted to google emergency fridge repairs, swear at their partner for not taking out the overpriced extended warranty and cry at the size of the bill that comes with any service that starts with ‘emergency’. We decided on a different path.
First, multiple pictures were taken of the fridge, the produce inside it and the built in temperature display. Then a phone call was made Samsung to arrange a repair. Some emphasis was placed on the displeasure this had caused and, since turning the fridge on and off again seemed to at least temporarily fix the problem I was required to firmly suggest someone inspect the fridge to ensure this wasn’t to happen again. A service technician came, the motherboard was replaced (aren’t our appliances fancy these days?!) and everything seems to be working fine.
What about all the food we threw out? Well, you can seek compensation for damages and losses you suffer due to a problem with a product or service if the supplier could have reasonably foreseen the problem. This is in addition to your repair, replacement or refund rights. ‘Reasonably foreseen’ is another of these grey areas and the response you are likely to get will most likely depend on the manufacturer you’re dealing with. In our case, photos in hand (okay, emailed) I requested $500 be compensated. The response was they could compensate $250 without evidence of total cost. As working out the value of half used condiments and finding 3 months worth of receipts seemed to time consuming I took the $250 and felt better about the whole situation.
So remember, extended warranties, for the most part, are overpriced, under featured and usually are only there to boost a retailers bottom line. With a little conviction, you’re likely to get the same outcome without forking out extra dollars. Save that money for something useful.