Lease Your Way to the Hi-Tech Stratosphere

Buy a warranty on a new, untested, fragile, break-prone technology,
writes in Consumerist tipster Zoe,
and you could find yourself essentially leasing the newest, sexiest gadget every nine months for the rest of your life.
While hardly a revelation, it’s nice to see some areas where the customer still has the upper hand.

Four years ago she bought two Creative Zen 40GBs for under $300 apiece, along with a 2-year Replacement Plan for $40.

Both players broke, from the same faulty headphone jack. She mailed the player to Best Buy who sent her back a voucher for the full amount.

This time she got a Rio and a new two-year plan. In due course, the player’s hard drive failed.

She handed it in and “grudgingly” settled on a fourth-generation iPod which lasted for 18 months until the battery life
went south and the click wheel stopped responding.

Yesterday she took the iPod in to a Best Buy and got herself a new one with a fresh warranty.

And wouldn’t you know it, but they play video now!

Sincerely,

Zoe

Readers, have you ridden the same warranty train for other sexy widgets?

Comments

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  1. Danilo says:

    As a former BBY employee, I can attest to the feasibility of just such a maneuver. In fact, at my store, the management was particularly enamored of the “technology subscription” the replacement/service plans provided.

    This actually reminds me of an incident where a manager told me he wanted a hot new phone. He had an older model, with service plan, and wanted my advice on how to best disable his working but antiquated device. I promptly grabbed a short length of speaker wire from a cabinet and marched him into the break room, which is free of cameras.

    I quickly stripped the ends of the wires with scissors, shoved one end into a 110v socket in the wall and delicately brushed the battery contacts with the other ends of the wires. There was a brief, satisfying pop and sizzle. My manager looked pleased and asked me what he should tell the techs. I suggested power surge brought on by using a car charger in a vehicle with a faulty alternator. Service plans were widely touted for their power surge coverage back then.

    A few hours later (after activation and some time charging), he was sporting whatever the new hotness was at that time — probably a Sprint Samsung N400 or the like.

    So, is this done? Absolutely. And for a time, the people doing it most often were the blueshirts themselves. I hear they clamped down in it in recent times, though.

  2. Kevin Meyers says:

    I like to “lease” new gadgets, too, but I do it via eBay. Buy a new gadget, use it for six months-year until you get sick of it, then sell it on eBay, and use the proceeds to fund your next gadget purchase. I’ve gone through Playstations, cell phones, Treos, and TVs in this manner. My wife is not thrilled, but it’s a compulsion.

  3. Josh says:

    Dang I thought this was common knowledge. You know if you purchase a laptop warranty you cna essentially get a battery each year of the warranty for free and you can keep your old one.

    Also in the third year if something they can’t get parts for breaks they replace the laptop with new tech. Last laptop I had was a year old, the clip that keeps it closed broke….brand new laptop with way better specs to boot.

    Anyway those are my more I guess ethical uses of Best Buys PRP plans. The shadier one includes returning my Xbox original for 179 bucks in credit towards a 360. In fact when I bought it the employee told me to do this. I love running into the occasional honest blueshirt.

  4. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    Just a question on Laptop product replacement plans. I was comparing the Best Buy to the one offered by HP, the manufacturer of the laptop. The only difference I could notice was the surge protection offered by Best Buy. Also the Best Buy plan was $250 and HP was $180. Does anyone have experience with these plans and which ones offer more flexibility in getting new hardware further down the road?

  5. Flaming City says:

    My favorite move on this front was when I bought an open box printer that was completely disabled for something like $9.99. I then bought the PSP on it and waited the two weeks until the return period was over. Then, I brought the printer to the service counter and told them it didn’t work. The manager offered to take the printer back but I insisted that the PSP meant that they had to replace it with a working model, so now I have a beautiful functional $300 printer for $30.