A: In your time of need, you discovered the little-known downside of extended service plans: Many aren't backed by the item's manufacturer or retailer but by a third party. Once Sony's warranty expired, your laptop was protected by a company called Service Net.
My call to Service Net got me to a supervisor named Jacob who insisted he couldn't tell me anything about your situation because I was not you. He even refused to give me the phone number for the Service Net corporate offices (happily, it was listed on the company's Web site).
The telephone conversation left me not knowing whether you had a substantial complaint. However, I believe strongly that a company has an obligation to make sure its business partners treat their mutual customers fairly. In this case, the retail store and Service Net didn't properly inform you of the limitations of the agreement.
Glad we could help.
Extended-Service Plan Tips
1. Choose between "repair" or "replace." Some extended-service plans will only repair problems, some will immediately replace broken products, and many offer a combination of the two options. "Repair" contracts are usually cheaper but can leave you waiting for weeks for results. "Replacement" contracts cost more, but you can get a new unit shipped to you right away.
2. Read the entire extended-service contract. Something as simple as the wrong home address can result in the cancelation of your service contract without notice.
3. Assess the warranty's value. It might actually be a better deal to buy a used replacement than to spend money up front on a warranty.