Call me unlucky. Â My late father used to say that if Â there were one hundred items on a shelf, and one was defective, then he was surely going to pick that one. Â I seem to have inherited that wonderful trait. Although some of the warranties were honored with either a repair, an exchange, or a complete refund, that does still not negate the fact that i’ve the worst luck in consumer history!
Here’s a small list of the many items that I have had to warranty, exchange, or attempt to get a refund on in the last year.
Elliptical Exercise Machine
Last year I purchased an Elliptical from a company through Amazon. Â The unit came in about a week. Â Within 20 minutes of my wife exercising on it, it made a clicking noise, then a horrendous grinding sound, and finally, before she got off the machine, it started spitting pieces of plastic from the spinning wheel.
Result: Â We put it out with the trash. Â It cost an extra few dollars for trash removal that month.
Elliptical Exercise Machine #2
Two months ago, we decided to get the same machine. Â It had to be an isolated incident right? Â Within 10 minutes of assembly, you guessed it, the same clicking noise. Â No, my wife does NOT exceed the weight limit of the machine if that’s what you’re thinking.
I immediately got on the phone to the company. Â The representative listened as my wife operated the elliptical, and she said Â ”oh I thought we took care of that problem!” Â I explained that we had purchased the same machine last year, and it did the same thing, in just as little time.
Result: Â The representative said I would receive another machine within a week. Â I tracked the package and saw that indeed it was on its way. Â I came home after work and on my porch was a new elliptical machine.Â My wife and I were pleased with the prompt replacement.
Two days later, we came home and there is another Elliptical on my porch.Â Now I had three ellipticals, two in boxes in my living room, and one assembled that didn’t work and headed for the trash.
I checked the tracking, and noticed that the package was resheduled to be delivered the following week.Â What? Â That would make FOUR ellipticals! Â I called the same representative again and explained the issue. Â She canceled the package in transit, sent a call tag to UPS to pickup a damaged item, the first one, and was to issue a calltag for the extra machine.
I still have a broken Elliptical machine and one in a box in my living room, total failure of a company to do anything right.
Coleman Queen Airbed
This was purchased at WalMart last summer.Â Within a couple of weeks the mattress didn’t hold air. Â No wonder it comes with a patch kit! Â I brought it to WalMart to exchange it. Â After every customer service employee attempted to figure out a solution, a manager was called over. Â I was told that there is a 14 day return policy. Â I looked at the receipt. Â No such policy there. Â I was told it was posted with the mattresses. Â I bought it from an endcap with sale items, not in the sports department. Â The employee from sports told the manager, in my presence, that yes, there was an endcap a couple weeks before, and that NO, there was NOT a copy of the policy posted with them. Â The manager stuck to his guns. Â No refund. I said all I wanted was an exchange. Â He said no exchanges either.
Result: Â I contacted Coleman directly. Â They would issue a refund in a couple of weeks if I sent a copy of the receipt, and cut the valve out of the mattress and mail it to them. Â I did. Â I called about the check four weeks later. Â I would have the check in a couple of weeks.Â The refund came as promised a few weeks after my follow up call.Â Yes, I still shop at WalMart.
Parents Magazine Rubber Blocks
We bought a package of safe rubber blocks for our son. Â Two days later, and maybe three minutes of playing with them, a one inch circle on one side of the block came off. Easily small enough for a seven month old to choke on or swallow.
I researched the company and called customer service. Â I explained, and was assured I would receive a replacement set in a week. Â I was assured this was not a known issue, but they did know that it would not happen again.
I called three weeks later. Â I called again the next day, and the next, and the next. Â Finally, after hearing that the woman who answers for this small company was away from her desk, I left a message. Â I stated how I had the Consumer Affairs Department, the Better Business Bureau local to the company, and that I would pursue these outlets if the woman did not come to her desk in short time to reply to my calls.
Result: Â I had a return voicemail within a few hours. Â The blocks were back ordered, so the company was waiting for a delivery. Â I would have the replacement blocks in a week or so. Â They did arrive, but only after feverish follow up.
I bought the first generation iPhone two weeks before the 3G came out. Â I think it was last May.Â Six months later in November, the ringer on/off toggle switch did not toggle anymore. Â It just flopped around sort of inside the phone case. Â I scheduled an appointment at the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store to get the problem fixed.
Result: Â Easiest warranty repair ever! Â The man at the Genius Bar asked if I had backed up my data recently, popped out my Sim card, popped it in a new iPhone, and within three minutes I was all set. Â I walked out with a brand new iPhone.
Apple iPhone #2
Wednesday, after having about all I could take with the home button working intermittently, I made an appointment at the Genius Bar again. Â I started to explain how the button was intermittent, and was interrupted with the same question. Â Did I backup my data? Â I said I had that morning.
Result: Â New iPhone #3 in less than three minutes. Â I may have a PC, but I love Apple’s Warranty and Exchange Policy. I am seriously thinking of getting a MacBook next time, but that won’t be any time soon since I just bought this here laptop, but that’s another story.
Sidebar: Unfortunately I backed my phone up to a computer that the next day would bite the dust in more ways than one, so I now have an iPhone with it’s date intact, but a new laptop that won’t sync to it unless I get that backup file on the new laptop. Â Who knew?
I was one of the lucky thirteen people to get an XBox 360 in the KMart raffle at midnight the night it was released. Â There were over 200 people there, and we each got a ticket. Â People were selling their tickets for $20 to $50 for a CHANCE to buy one! Â At number thirteen, my number was chosen! Â What luck. Â There were only about four or five games released that night. Â I bought three, the remote, and an extra controller.
Result: Â Ever hear of the Red Ring of Death? Â KMart saw me the next day. Â The games are not returnable.Â Can’t I get a break?
I bought a pink Razr cell phone for my wife on her birthday from eBay. Â The battery cover was a different color. Â The battery didn’t hold a charge. Â Here we go again. Â I DID purchase a SquareTrade Warranty with this item, which I don’t usually do. Â I contacted the company I bought the phone from. Â They are a Power Seller on eBay. Â Great feedback. Â I could see why, as they sent me another battery and battery cover.
I also contacted SquareTrade when the phone started to have issues within a couple of months. Â I was told to contact Motorola, so I did. Â Motorola said to contact the seller, so I did. Â The seller said that I got the SquareTrade warranty, so contact SquareTrade. Â Geesh!
Result. My wife still uses the phone. Â It works. Â She has two batteries that hold a charge for a couple of hours each. Â At least the battery cover color now matches.
Not all purchases go this way for me, but I have never heard of another person having such terrible luck. Â Some purchases have been great, such as the Toshiba Satellite Laptop that lasted me for several years, or the Toyota Camry that ran like a top until someone decided to T-Bone me while going to a Novell class.
As you can see, I don’t usually purchase the extended warranty when I make purchases, but when I do there are a few rules I follow when deciding.
Item Price to Extended Warranty Price Ratio
I know companies have worked on this ratio extensively to make the price acceptable to the widest range of consumers, but there are times when the warranty price is much too close to a complete product replacement. Â This is especially true for electronics.
For example, a 5.1 Surround Sound set from Wal-Mart. Â I bought the basic DuraBrand set which was drastically reduced in price. Â The set was normally around $99. Â It was reduced to $39. Â The warranty option was still based on the regular retail price of up to $99, so to add the warranty would have cost me $19 at the time. Â 50% of what the product cost me. Â No deal.
Likelihood of the Item Becoming Faulty
I have purchased warranties on my wifes engagement ring and both our wedding rings. Â Good idea too because one of my wifes diamonds became loose. Â If we did not have the warranty option, we would have had to pay several hundred dollars for a loose diamond, as well as to have it set. Â The warranty was not much at all, so under the Price to Warranty Ratio, it was a good buy.
It’s a good idea to get extended warranties on jewelery with rare gemstones that can become loose or fall out.
Warranty Coverage – Repair or Replacement
This is of great importance. Â Mail-in service does not interest me in the least. Â Dell has such a plan. Â I don’t know about you, but i’m not willing to mail in a computer for a repair. Â Especially when I could most likely buy the part for less than the postage
Replacement coverage is where I give the option some great thought. Â As seen above, I have the Apple iPhone. Â I am on my third phone, and have spent all of 10 minutes with a representative getting replacements. Â My warranty is up on June 2nd. Â For $60 I can add another year of coverage, and I can buy this coverage all the way up to that day. Â For me this is a definate no-brainer. Â I will most likely in June be buying the new iPhone, and will have a shiny new original iPhone to give to my wife to replace her Motorola Razr.
If a warranty is covered by a third party, I never buy it. Â If you have ever had to deal with a middle man when it comes to a repair, you know where I am coming from. Â The same goes for Authorized Repair Centers.
I had a Kenwood In-Dash Stereo that needed repair once. Â I brought it to an authorized service center. Â It was to take two weeks. Â Two weeks later, I went to pick it up. Â I was informed that since they were very busy they had not even diagnosed it yet. Â I could still see the stereo with the check-in tag sitting o the shelf. Â I brushed off the dust and took it home. Â I bought a Clarion Pro Audio later that afternoon.
Authorized repair centers usually do not cover just the product you purchased. Â In the case I just mentioned, it was a television and electronic repair center. Â For their own service they charged a much higher rate than they would be paid for the warranty repair wich is most likely a flat rate plus parts, so my item under warranty was not a priority.
And the best advice I can give, whether you purchase a warranty or not is to always, always, always save your receipt and paperwork. Â I have a filing cabinet for all of my important papers. Â In this cabinet are folders with manuals to all products I buy that have a manufacturers warranty, with the purchase receipt either inside the manual or stapled to the cover.
This way when there is an issue, which as you can see with my luck there often is, it is just a matter of opening the folder and finding the products paperwork.
Apple AppleCare Website As long as your Apple product is still under the manufacturer warranty, you can add an AppleCare extended warranty. Â Apple warranties are a bit pricey, but after using their warranty first-hand more than once, I am sold. Â Great buy if you have an Apple product.
SquareTrade The great thing about SquareTrade is that you can warranty nearly any item, new, used, or refurbished that is purchased through eBay, and for low rates.
The Best Buy 2 year warranty for my new laptop was $79.99. Â Through SquareTrade, it costs $59.99 for 3 years.
Consumer Affairs To find the Consumer Affairs Department local to you, just do a search with the locality and “consumer affairs”. Â Here you can lodge a complaint about a company, just as you can with the BBB, but Consumer Affairs is a division of government. Â If all else fails, a simple mention of this department to a retailer may get their attention.
Better Business Bureau
Pretty much a middle man when it comes to issues between consumers and companies. The Better Business Bureau is a great tool to lodge a complaint, or check a company’s reputation locally before you do business with them. Â Businesses do listen to these complaints usually, as you can easily see by doing a local search for a company you might know. Â Most issues are resolved in a timely manner.