Appliance Warranties: Wasteful or Worth It?

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Appliance Warranty
Are you in the market for a new appliance? You'll likely be offered an extended warranty by the salesperson, which may sound like a good way to cover any mishaps, but it's not worth the extra money. Here's why.

According to a recent study from Consumer Reports, most products seldom break during the two to three year window covered by an average service plan. Then, when they do break, your repairs tend to cost as much as the plan itself. Keep in mind that the manufacturer will sometimes cover out-of-warranty items, as well.

If your appliance breaks down within a short amount of time or because of a known issue, the manufacturer will usually offer free discounts or repairs, if you contact them for help. Another thing to consider is the extra charges associated with extended warranties. Some repairs call for the item to be shipped to the manufacturer, which typically isn't covered by the company. In other cases, you may be required to pay a service charge when someone comes to repair your appliance.

Extended warranties aren't the best deal for consumers, but salespeople have a reason for pushing you to buy one. Consumer Reports says that most retailers keep 50 percent or more of what they charge for these kinds of plans.

Bottom line: extended warranties aren't worth it. Keep these things in mind the next time you're shopping for an appliance and save yourself from unnecessary expenses.


Appliance Warranties: Wasteful or Worth It? -- Savings Experiment
For the third year, readers of Consumer Reports chose Amazon.com for small-appliance price and selection, yet the customers of small, independent stores were much more likely than those who went to big chains to get major-appliance support without enduring exasperating phone calls.

To help you make appliance shopping a breeze, Consumer Reports enlisted more than 20,000 subscribers, who reported on their experiences buying upward of 35,000 small and major appliances.
Amazon.com won a following with free shipping on many small appliances not sold through partners (our category included grills, vacuum cleaners, and air conditioners).
Lowe's edges out Home Depot. While neither stood out among the competitors for product support, Lowe's generally outscored Home Depot for product selection and shopping ease, which includes maneuvering around displays and finding people to answer questions. Readers also found Lowe's faster during checkout for a major-appliance purchase.
Mixed results for Sears. While respondents overall were very satisfied, Sears alone scored below average for its major-appliance pricing, despite a price-competition guarantee. Sears was among the better major companies for service and support, regardless of whether the brand was from the retailer's own Kenmore line or another manufacturer.
Premium products, same support. General Electric stood out for its Web site for customer support, according to our subscribers, but it otherwise scored average at solving problems. Problem-solving was similar for GE's high-end Monogram kitchen appliances. Service calls go through personnel trained on all GE lines, says Chuck Dawes, product manager for GE Monogram.
Low marks for Maytag. Acquired by Whirlpool in 2006, the company continues to promote its selection of a new "repairman," who doesn't seem to have enough repair work to keep him busy. But Maytag earned among the lowest scores when it came to dealing with real-life complaints.
Smaller independent stores were cited for service and checkout ease. For major appliances, Abt Electronics, of Glenview, Ill., earned high marks; it also ships many items free. But when it came to service and support, independent stores outscored all major retailers and manufacturers.
More than 85 percent of the requests for support in the survey were made by phone call to the manufacturer or retailer. Far fewer who'd purchased from an independent retailer and called that business ran into difficulties with automated voice systems, were bounced from one person to another, or couldn't reach a technician without making several calls.
Want to see ratings and reviews of other products, ranging from appliances, to electronics, to cars? Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org and get a 30-day free trial.
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Consumer Reports asked 8,000 readers and 1,000 other Americans nationwide about their kitchens. Most readers were highly satisfied with their new kitchens, but almost half had some regrets about the products or pros they chose. So before you start planning your new kitchen, here are six things you can do to save money and aggravation, six common mistakes to avoid and nine popular products to skip.
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