Whose Warranty Is Best?

Back when he was a manufacturer’s rep, Homerjay met CompUSA employees who would rather not sell a computer than sell one without a service plan. If they knew a customer wasn’t interested in a CompUSA warranty… the salespeople would say the computer wasn’t in stock.

That got Homerjay thinking. We all know to avoid these in-store warranties, but which manufacturer warranties are up to snuff? Apple is famous for their level of service (as long as it’s not an iPod). Who else’s warranty wins it for you?


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  1. mschlock says:

    A few years back, I bought a Braun hand blender (a stick blender whose main uses are splashing boiling soup all over you, and making milkshakes). It came with a one-year warranty. About eleven months later, it completely stopped working. By then I didn’t have the receipt, so I sent them a copy of my blacked-out checking account statement showing the purchase I made at Macy’s when I bought the blender. They sent me a new blender free of charge.

    That’s not really a matter of a good warranty so much as a good customer-serving customer service policy, though. Yay, Braun.

  2. GenXCub says:

    I’ve had a good experience with Sears and my DLP television. My problem was that something on the TV crapped out before it should have (color wheel). I was post-samsung warranty, but not post-sears. Maybe I was just in the sweet spot.

  3. mikelite says:

    I’ve had a pair of Shure e3c’s crack and they sent brand-new replacements in a few days, no questions asked.

  4. homerjay says:

    I asked Ben about this because I was considering buying the Toshiba “extended” service plan for $400 for 3 years which covers everything CompUSA claimed to cover. Naturally I won’t buy the stores service but should I consider the manufacturers?

  5. I work at a local independent computer store and we offer extended warranties through the Warranty Corporation of America. They’ve been responsive and fairly expedient – but I don’t know if it qualifies as an “in-store” warranty since all we’re doing is marking up a third party warranty company’s service and selling that.

  6. Mr. Gunn says:

    Compulsive Shouter – You’re reselling some other companies service? Which company is that?

  7. I’m with mikelite. I had E2c’s, and Shure did the same. So good!

    On the same note, I asked the same question on my blog. One person suggested the extended (3-year) warranty.

  8. bitplayer says:

    I’ve had good experiences with Sears and bad experiences with Apple actually. HP used to have a great warranty service but bad customer service reps.

  9. acceptablerisk says:

    I used to work in electronic sales at Sears several years ago. We were, of course, compelled to attempt to sell the Sears extended warranty. Not that it made a big difference. At the time, (and perhaps still, I haven’t really looked into it) Sears didn’t have a concrete return policy. If for whatever reason, you weren’t satisfied with what you bought within a “resonable period” you could bring it back for a full refund, provided you could prove you bought it there. My store and department managers took this “reasonable period” to mean a somewhat fuzzy amount of time up to and including three years provided the customer could produce a reciept.

    There weren’t many customers that were wise to the scam and there would probably have been a lot more people turned down if it weren’t mostly people coming in to trade cordless phones. Though, more than once, I saw a person come in with a digital camera that was way over a year old and walk out with something waaaay nicer.

  10. Kat says:

    Honestly, Best Buy’s PRP (Product Replacement Plan, NOT the service plan) saved my butt when my iRiver MP3 player died just before it turned 2 years old. I got a gift check for what I paid for the player ($200), and I added my own $50 to get a 2nd-gen blue iPod mini. Best Buy’s PSP (that’s the service plan) also replaced my parents’ motherboard and power supply for free when both blew out (not due to a power surge – due to a known problem in eMachines’ computers.) I’m not all about Best Buy (as an ex-employee I have plenty of complaints, especially with the PSP), but in the past 5 years their replacement plans have also gotten us, for free, a brand new cordless phone, a new scanner, and a new all-in-one printer/scanner/copier.

    Sun Appliances also gave us a new microwave for free when ours died still in warranty.

    Since our wallets have been rescued about 6 times in the past 5 years, we’re still buying warranties. It’s been well worth it for us.

  11. Ben Thoma says:

    Well, I’m not sure if you’re looking for simply consumer electronics here, but L.L.Bean will replace anything they make… if you get a tear in your jeans 10 years past their date of purchase, bring it to the store, and they’ll replace them.

    By the way, Apple’s iPod service is still top notch. As a former iPod Genius, I have to say that I bent over backwards to honor not only people’s warranties, but replace iPods that were past their warranties or rather questionable in their damages.

  12. homerjay says:

    Oh I can certainly vouch for Apple on both the compuer from and the iPod front. They replaced my Nano as couple weeks ago when I walked up and told them quite simply that the battery doesn’t last much longer than an hour. 5 minutes later I walked away with a new one.

    I always thought (and apparently so does Ben) that Apple treated iPod customers as the ugly stepchildren.

  13. xian says:

    This brings back memories of when I worked for CompUSA in college. I’d sell computers left and right, but I never pushed the warranties, which made the managers quite concerned. I could be a top seller for a weekend with a low warranty/sale ratio, and the managers would remind me why the warranties needed to be sold because they were such a great value. Yeah, right. I sold a few, but only when the customer insisted on it. The commisions were ok, but I couldn’t push something that I knew they didn’t need. That is unless they were buying a Packard Bell. Then I REALLY recommended it. Those things were junk.

    The nice thing (at least at the time) is that if a customer came in with a quote from another salesman who wasn’t there and they bought the warranty, we split the spiff. That happened when a Detroit Piston bought his PC. Another guy quoted him a week before with a warranty, and I got the sale, splitting the spiff with the other guy. The only thing was that one of his crew kept wanting freebies, so I think we ended up comping him paper, a surge protector, mouse pad, etc. Hope he never needed to use that warranty.

    Funny side note: The Piston got denied a Compusa credit card. The computer froze when they put in a salary of $1000000 and an occupation of “pro basketball player.” He was ticked, but his wife just blew it off and wrote a check.

  14. Plasmafire says:

    American TV and Appliance gave me an awesome extended warranty on the camera I bought 3 years ago, I purchased the extended warranty and they added the warranty on to the existing camera warranty so my camera is under warranty until 2009, and the $50 warranty already paid for itself, the zoom mechanizm on my camera broke, they sent it in and got it repaired for me at no cost at all, and they were very helpful. (Although I was kinda wishing they weren’t able to fix it, then they would have given my all my money back, at the original purchase price of my camera, and I would have bought a bran new camera…) My camera now works even better than when I originally bought it. American’s warranties are worth every penny. (*And their Customer service beats almost everyone.)

  15. Anonymous says:

    I was pleased when I had to deal with Toshiba. Have one of their Tivo/DVD players. Finally got around to trying to use the TivoToGo feature and it wouldn’t work at all. Basic trouble shooting told me it was shot. All it took was one phone call for a RMA and address. I lost my movies, but was upgraded to the top model for the cost of one-way shipping.

    May not be a lifetime customer of Toshiba now, but I sure as Hell will sing thier praise.

  16. juri squared says:

    I actually had a bad experience with Apple’s computer warranty (due to a known iBook G3 motherboard error they refused to acknowledge) and good experience with the iPod warranty.

    But! What I wanted to mention was Fry’s. I know they’re notorious for poor customer service, but their warranty and help desk personnel (at least with the Downers Grove store) are awesome.

    The key thing that makes the Fry’s warranty worth it is the loaner program. They are an authorized repair center for certain brands such as HP, but my Sony VAIO has to be sent to the manufacturer with a 6-8 week turnaround time. The first time I sent my VAIO in, they gave me a never-opened newer Sony machine; this time I got one that’s been gently used and still far nicer than my laptop.

    I have also had good experience with the Best Buy replacement plan.

  17. chrissy2006 says:

    How ironic, isn’t it! Got much attention in there.

  18. ChazB says:

    I’ve had both good an bad service with Dell Canada. The good, my keyboard stopped working on my laptop 2 days after I got it. They overnighted me a replacement.

    The bad, my laptop has had an overheating issue sine I bought it. It gets so hot that it shuts down. They “fixed” it once under warranty which ammounted to nothing from what I can tell. Needless to say it still shuts down after constant use and they’ve washed their hands of it even though its a known issue.

  19. DeeJayQueue says:

    In the printshop where I work, we have a 42″ HP designjet 5500. This is a monster MF printer. It’s got a 40gb hard drive built in. Well, the hard drive fried one day, and I called HP. I just read the serial # and after a brief bit of self-troubleshooting she sent a tech out to replace the hard drive and power supply. It was a thursday and nobody could come out till monday but I was assured that they would call me to confirm the appointment.
    The next day (friday) HP called me, confirmed the appointment for monday. All the people I talked to were in Canada. I know this because everyone that I talked to said “aboot” and “eh?” Anyways, monday came and the technician called me to let me know he’d be there in an hour. He showed up, fixed the problem and left.
    HP called me right after he reported the call closed and asked me how things went, then called back a few days later to make sure I was still happy.

    Now, I know that this is a commercial piece of equipment, so I’m liable to get better service than normal, but It’s given me a pretty good impression of HP, where I used to have a mediocre/bad one due to their shitty printer quality in the mid 90s. I would definately spend money there again.

  20. B says:

    Back when I used to listen to music on things called “CDs” I had good uck with Circuit City’s extended warranty on portable CD players, which I would break on a fairly regular basis. The best part was I didn’t need a reciet to get the warranty, I just had to know my phone number.

  21. notlazyjustdontcare says:

    Leatherman tools come with a 25-year warranty. If you mail the tool to them with a note about what’s wrong, they fix it and send it back, no questions asked. Even better, if a few things are loose or worn out, they’ll just send you a new one. I think this justifies the premium price compared with fake multitools.

  22. Ben Popken says:

    Loy writes:

    “1) IBM. I had a busted laptop – infant failure. They fedex-ed me an
    empty box. Paid overnight fees to ship me the right kind of box so
    that the laptop could be shipped properly. And it came with a prepaid
    shipping label. I fedex-ed it back on Tuesday. I called Wednesday – it
    was on a bench. Thursday it arrived back at my home. Can’t ask for
    better service than that, as far as I’m concerned. Course, this was a
    couple years ago :)

    2) GM, thanks to Patrick Auto in Henrietta, NY (South of Rochester).
    We own a 2000 Pontiac Montana with a lot of fancy electronic crap
    (which we will never buy again) and they have gone to bat for us on
    numerous occasions, compensating us in the rare instance they lose.

    We took it in for a lower manifold gasket leak after it was out of
    warranty time-wise but not mile-wise. They wrangled over $800 from GM
    because it was a common problem.

    We had a windshield wiper problem which was technically outside the
    warranty coverage. They could not win with GM this time, but instead
    dropped the repair cost to $60 and presented us with a coupon book
    good for $100 of oil changes.

    GM has been our favorite warranty repair supplier, primarily thanks to
    these folks who do the arguing over the phone on our behalf. And they
    have a great little diner with free wifi in the shop so you can
    caffeinate and work while you wait.

  23. AcidReign says:

    …..Leatherman can do the 25-year warranty because their knives are damned-near indestructible. I’ve got a 15-year old one I’ve abused the hell out of, and it doesn’t have a scratch on it. The blade’s still surgical-sharp, too.

    …..I like the product-replacement plans, too. It’s worth it to me on anything more than $50. CompUSA came through on a bricked router for me that wasn’t their fault. The power went out while I was flashing a firmware upgrade and ruined it. I did learn, though. My router and DSL modem are now on a UPS.

  24. homerjay says:

    I can’t believe its all praise. Is the consumerist.com I’m reading?

  25. trixare4kids says:

    1) Zippo – I sent them in my Grandma’s engraved lighter from the 60’s. They tried and could not repair it, so along with the original, they sent me back a stunning new one with a $40-$50 price tag. Way to go, Zippo, customer for life.

    2) Sony – I bought a VAIO a couple of years ago direct from Sony. I got the three year extended white glove service as insurance. I ended up having two problems and both times I called the number on the contract. I didn’t wait very long to reach a CSR, they were polite and scheduled an appointment for me. A technician then came to my house within 48 hours to fix the problem. I even had him come to my work place once since I couldn’t be home. No problem, no fuss, no waiting. Huzzah. Worth every penny.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Well I know the worst – Holmes, from Jarden Consumer Solutions (also Oster, Bionaire, Rival, Crockpot, Seal-a-Meal, and more).

    After just 3 months, our Holmes ultrasonic humidifier stopped putting out mist. Called the customer-service line and found out that there isn’t one – not one – replacement ultrasonic humidifier in the company.

    I was told to keep checking back, to see if it does come in stock – except that they had no idea when it would because humidifiers are “seasonal”; it could be not until next winter!

    Tell your friends. Tell everyone, so they’ll listen and change their policies.