Saturday, May 07, 2005

Good Fortune At My Own Expense.

Never get the warranty. It's usually a rip-off. The salesman will try to convince you that the second you walk out the door, the product is going to explode in your hands, and the only recourse you'll have is that warranty.

(Whenever they're doing this, I can't help but wonder if they really think their product is so bad they really, really need to sell me on a promise to fix it.)

Well, four years ago, I got the warranty for my video camera. I don't know why did it, except that I was stupid. If my four-years-younger self wasn't stupid, there wouldn't be a need for a turnaround.

So for about the last year, this video camera hasn't worked right. It works fine if it's plugged in, but if you try to run it off the battery, you get nothing. I kind of need a video camera, so I figured that would be one of my first purchases once this debt payoff thing's done.

Except as I was going through my desk looking for index cards, I discovered this fortuitous gift from my stupid past--a full, four year warranty from Best Buy from November of 2001--two months after my first daughter was born, and she was starting to do cute stuff I figured I'd want to see years and years later.

Apparently I wasn't a total moron--based on the last four digits of the card on the receipt, I didn't go into debt for the camera--I just let the guy bully me into an $80 warranty. Which means I now don't have to pay for a new battery that probably doesn't cost half that.

Either way, it was a nice bit of luck. Look for some of the results of my working camera to pop up soon over at

Now if I can just discover I left $5,000 in a good growth stock mutual fund and forgot about it.


theFrog said...

I will say one thing about extended warranties and then leave it at that.

I purchased the extra 3 year warranty when I bought my Dell. Now, I know you have issues with them, but hear me out:

My computer is not the one that Dell advertises for $499 with a free flat screen. My computer was SERIOUSLY tricked out with a scanner, a ginormous screen, and more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. It was also a small fortune clocking in at over $5000 (for the sake of your fiscal sanity, I will have you know that I paid cash for this bad boy - it took me 10 months to save up for it).

Paying that much for the be-all, end-all of computing, you better believe I was springing for an extended warranty. And wouldn't you know, not 2.5 years into my ownership of the computer, it completely died on me... to the point that Dell decided I needed a replacement computer.

Now, I figured that, as per their contract, they would be outfitting me with a refurbished computer that had the exact same specs as the computer that died. It would have been fine with me - part of the reason I spent gads of money on a computer was so I could get as much shelf life out of it as possible before it went obsolete. But Dell went several steps further than that...

Recognizing that the computer they were replacing was now 2.5 years out of date, they decided that they were not going to replace my $5k+ computer with a refurb of the now mid-grade stuff. Instead they replaced my computer with UPGRADED specs to match the advances of technology as well as the original purchase price.

Which basically means that by spending the $200 in the beginning, I was not only spared the cost of replacing an entire computer system, I was spared the cost of upgrading an out-of-date computer system. If I hadn't said to myself "I need more than a 1 year warranty on this," it's very likely that I would be writing this reply from an old pentium 1 system (with 166 megahertz!! ooooo - feel the speed!) with a 33.3kbps dialup modem that's currently taking up space in my closet.

sorry for being long winded, but as one that often does refuse the extended warranty option, there are just certain times and certain things that make the price well worth it.

Erik said...

Hey, I'm not going to argue with you. Part of the fun of it-really-happened-to-me stories is that nobody gets to argue with you. (What am I gonna say? Uh-uh, Froggie! Your experience sucked!)

I will say you shouldn't apologize for being long winded. What good is it having a tricked-out computer if you can't use it to make long comments?

Rebecca said...

I have to say that I've also had good experiences with extended warranties. I replace my first digital camera 4 times (a total of 5 cameras) in a 4 year period at Best Buy. The first two times the camera broke, it was just a tiny piece of plastic that broke off which made the battery cover a little loose, but the camera still worked great. Both times, they replaced the entire camera. Although, the second time, they didn't have that model anymore, so they allowed me to get a different camera at the same cost as the original. If I remember correctly, I opted to get a more expensive camera, but only had to pay the difference between it and the original price I paid. The next two times, there was actually something wrong with the camera - once the microphone that recorded sound stopped working and once the dial to switch between view and shoot got stuck. The last time they were out of my model, so they allowed me to upgrade to the next model for free.

Another time, also at Best Buy, I bought my very first computer printer and it worked for a bit, then started printing funny. When I brought it in, they told me that I was lucky it was printing at all because a lot of people were having problems with that printer. So they upgraded me to the next model for free.

Another time at Good Guys, I bought a snazzy digital phone that had separate voice mail boxes (it was when I had 4 roommates in Vegas) and it started sounding funny. I brought it in and got it replaced for free. I may have even gotten the next model up, but I don't remember for sure (this was in 1998).

I think I may also have replaced a cell phone using a Best Buy warranty. I know that my brother did. The antennae broke off of his and because they no longer carried his model, he got an upgraded model for free.

I was also able to upgrade me DVD player because I accidentally hit it against something while moving from Victorville to Rosamond, and it stopped working. I brought it in, and they allowed me to upgrade.

Now with my VCR, I only had a repair warranty, not a replacement warranty, so when I brought that in to Best Buy, they had to send it out for repairs, but at least it got fixed. Oh, and I also had another VCR when I lived in Vegas that for whatever reason would only play in black and white. I got that replaced too (although I don't think it was upgraded because it was right after I got it).

One time in Vegas, my stereo shorted out, I brought it back to Sears under warranty and they repaired it for me.

So when it comes to electronics, I always opt for the warranty. I have cut back on that a little bit now that I'm more money conscientious (although I don't think I've bought any electronics since I started watching my money better, so I guess I can't really claim that), but in the past, it has really worked out for me. Best Buy in particular is great, if you have the replacement warranty, you don't have to wait for them to try to fix it first, they just allow you to replace and if they don't have it, you get upgraded. :)

Froggie had told me previously about her Dell experience, so when I bought my Dell, I opted for the extended warranty. So far I haven't needed to use it, hopefully it'll stay that way.

One thing that I will recommend though, even if you are watching your money, is always buy your tires from America's Tire Co. or Discount Tire Co. (depending where you live). You get a free lifetime rotation and balance and a roadhazard warranty. Now the warranty doesn't let you get a new tire for absolutely nothing, they charge you $20 for it (they say that is for purchasing a warranty on the new tire). Not sure that I fully agree with their logic, but when something happens to your tires, $20 is much better than the cost of a brand new one! And you can always get them rotated and balanced for free. :) And the cost of the original tires is good price to begin with.