Millions of people will head to stores on busiest shopping day of the year. Many of them will return home as victims of a scam. Forget calling the police, they can’t do anything about it, as the con you and millions of others have fallen for was perfectly legal. So what is this con job being legally perpetrated against Americans all over the country? Two words: extended warranties.
Extended warranties are undeniably good for two parties: the retailer and the salesman. The retailer gets more money. The salesman gets an extra commission. These are the reasons stores and salesmen push extended warranties for cameras and other electronic devices so much. They want their money first thing, any concern for you probably comes in a distant second. Extended warranties give stores and salesmen money, and consumers a lighter wallet. So why are extended warranties a con job?
Extended warranties are a scam because, chances are, you’ll never need them. Manufacturers offer full warranties for their products, provided they’re factory sealed and have entered the country of destination via the designated courier. Obviously, gray market and refurbished items don’t get a manufacturer’s warranty. The lower cost comes at a price. Back onto warranties. The manufacturer’s warranty will normally cover any repairs needed because of “normal wear and tear” within a given time frame from the date of purchase. The good news is that things as complex as today’s electronics, if faulty, will probably break within a year, if not much sooner. Chances are, if your camera works fine for a year, it will keep right on working for a long time to come.
Besides cost consideration comes what the warranty will and will not cover. Most extended warranties will only cover repairs from “normal wear and tear,” which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Companies may brag about great customer service, but fixing a product at their own expense costs the repair company money. Because of this, the company may refuse to repair your equipment if, in their eyes, the equipment shows signs of “abuse,” which could be as minor as paint wearing off from regular usage or as major as being waterlogged after being caught in a sudden rainstorm. Unless it is a warranty that specifically covers accidental damage, almost anything can warrant repair service being denied. The warranty company gets your money and you get your broken camera back.
So, when that salesperson offers you an extended warranty, think carefully. Unless the warranty specifically covers accidental damage, skip it. A much more encompassing alternative to an extended warranty is insurance, which should protect against damage and even theft, which no warranty will cover. Check with your home insurance company to see if it is possible to get a rider policy for photo gear attached to the main policy. Having done this myself and knowing other people who have also done so, I can safely say that this is a lot cheaper than any warranty and offers complete protection and piece of mind that warranties don’t.
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