Warranty Anyone?

Get a handle on warranties to save money in replacement costs.



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When was the last time you bought something, had it go kaput and then been able to claim on the manufacturer’s warranty? When my fridge went, perhaps the biggest shock I got was how short the warranty period was: 18 months on a fridge. Aren’t these things supposed to last for decades? 18 months? Really?

Warranties are supposed to protect consumers from those off-chance breakdowns that are just part of life. It used to be that if a product was built on a Friday (here comes the weekend) or a Monday (oh my aching head) it wouldn’t last past the warranty date. But now all kinds of things can make a warranty seem like a really good idea. Best Buy sells warranties on IPods on the basis that the warranty is less than a replacement battery, which their warranty covers. Sounds like a deal, doesn’t it?

Of course, to claim on any warranty—manufacturers or extended—you have to have your paperwork. That means keeping your receipt and your warranty card (you did send in your warranty card info, right?) where you can lay your hands on them quickly.

I have a file that I use to store all my warranties. I know there are some people who file by how long the warranty lasts, but with products that have multiple coverage (the battery is covered for a year, the moving parts for two, the body for five), that’d mean a lot of photocopying. One file works for me, and if something goes wrong I have a single place to look for the paperwork and receipt. That’s important: You usually have to provide the receipt too, so staple it to the warranty.

The date of purchase can be particularly important if you paid for your product with a credit card and plan to claim on the extended warranty offered by that card. You do know that some credit cards will double the manufacturer’s warranty up to an extra year, right? Doesn’t a free extended warranty make more sense than buying extra coverage? All you need is the right credit card.

If you’re not in the habit of giving gift receipts with your gifts, you might want to make this a new to-do since including a gift receipt will help your lovey collect on the warranty should the need arise.

While there are times when manufacturers don’t stand behind their product or won’t stretch the warranty period even a couple of weeks, keeping track of your warranties and receipts, and shopping with the right credit card, can save you money in replacement costs.

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