En español | When making a large purchase, whether it's a computer or a car, you're likely to encounter an enthusiastic or aggressive sales clerk asking, "Do you want the extended warranty?" It's tempting to say yes, especially on a costly item.
But before doing so, consider what happened to AARP members Debra and Bill Kerr of Clio, Michigan, who recently wrote to On Your Side.
Back in 2009 the Kerrs purchased a Samsung flat-screen plasma television for about $1,800 from ABC Warehouse, an electronics and appliance chain. The couple paid the store some $500 for extended warranties that would cover the set until 2014.
Earlier this year they noticed a ghost image on their television screen. The repairman diagnosed it as "burn-in" — the result of watching one television channel for too long. (Fox and CNN news junkies, take note!)
Burn-in is a common problem for many TVs, and the Samsung warranty did have an exclusion for it. The store declined to replace the TV. But it seemed that the Kerrs were using their television in a normal way. If watching one channel for too long caused a problem, they should have been carefully warned about exactly what that meant.
Fortunately, when we shared our concerns with the honchos at ABC Warehouse, they reversed direction and agreed to honor the extended warranty. A few days later Debra and Bill had a new TV in their living room.
While we were happy to help out the Kerrs, no doubt many other AARP members are dealing with warranty concerns of their own. The best way to protect yourself is by carefully considering any plan you purchase.
Next page: How to prevent extended warranty problems. »