As a homeowner, you’ll make some big purchases now and then. Your first lawnmower or snowblower. A new refrigerator or dryer.
And just like price, features, and style, warranty coverage varies. How do you shop and compare?
Arm yourself with these 6 tips.
1. Know your rights
Retailers have to let you read any written warranty for products that cost more than $15. It’s a federal rule. When shopping online, look for a hyperlink. (If you buy online, print out the warranty for your records.)
What if they won’t show it to you? Consider taking your business elsewhere — and filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
2. Assess the reputation
Can you trust the company to follow through on the warranty? It’s what they do that counts, not what they say. Check them out online. Try your local or state consumer protection bureau, the Better Business Bureau, and Consumer Reports.
3. Understand the fine print
Understand the parts and promises of warranties. That way, you can make a fair comparison. Is the warranty full or limited? How long is it? What are the conditions? How easy is it to get the product repaired?
For example, maybe two dehumidifiers have warranties of the same length. Then you read more closely. One company requires you to ship the unit to the manufacturer if there’s a problem. At your own expense. That could cost a bundle.
TIP: Save your receipt!
To get a warranty repair, replacement, or refund, you might need to document the date of purchase or prove that you’re the original owner. File your receipt with the warranty.
4. Get it in writing
Salespeople sometimes get, well, “carried away” with claims and promises. Make sure anything you care about is in writing.
5. Avoid “as is” sales
When retailers declare a sale “as is,” they’re often getting around what’s called the “implied warranty.”
The implied warranty is an unwritten, common-sense guarantee created by state laws. It’s automatic. It basically says that the thing must do what it’s advertised to do. Yet many states let retailers off the hook if they simply declare sales “as is” or “with all faults.”
6. Skip the extended warranty
Most of the time, an extended warranty (really a service contract) is a waste of money. Here’s why, according to Consumer Reports:
- Most products don’t break before the extended warranty expires
- When products do break, repairs often cost only a little more than the extended warranty
- Other consumer protections, such as state law, might cover you
- Manufacturers sometimes agree to cover out-of-warranty repairs
- The fine print is often (surprise!) full of exceptions