A shadowy figure steps out of the shadows, his fingers nicotine-stained and shaking. He glances around nervously before leaping forward and grabbing you by the lapels. “I’ve got 23 things to tell you about calling into an extended warranty call center,” he says, “and I don’t have much time.”
Consumerist reader V sent in these tips and pieces of advice for consumers who call into the extended warranty phone lines. Some of them will make your life easier, many of which will make his life a lot easier. But since part of the game is getting the CSR on your side, isn’t what’s good for the goose good for the gander?
1. DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT THE STORE REPRESENTATIVE TELLS YOU!
Regardless of what has been said, store representatives DO get incentives based on how many warranties they sell in a period of time. This usually results in store reps stretching the truth or straight up lying to get that sale. For more information, read number 2. If an employee lies to you to get a sale, go to his manager, if that has no effect, escalate it up the chain up to corporate.
2. ALWAYS READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE WARRANTY SO YOU KNOW WHAT IS OR IS NOT COVERED!
These are written by big lawyer types and are confusing even for me, during my training, I had to have my trainer explain a few things. My biggest frustration is customers that call in with accidental damage to their phone or iPod or whatever. I understand accidents happen, trust me, I’m not out to deny you just to be an asshole. If there is physical damage to your item and you don’t have an accidental damage plan (which costs more) I will lose my job if I approve your claim. I’m sorry, I honestly feel bad each time I deny someone.
3. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL WHEN YOU CALL IN.
I take hundreds of calls per day, roughly 60% are people yelling at me, it is a real downer to be yelled at all day at work when I have done nothing wrong, especially when I am honestly trying to help you.
4. A SUPERVISOR DOES NOT HAVE ANY SPECIAL PRIVILEGES TO APPROVE YOUR CLAIM WHEN YOU ESCALATE!
A “real” supervisor only takes calls in EXTREME cases, they are very busy with the day to day operations of the call center and direct management of their team. When you ask to speak with our supervisor, we transfer you to an employee that is specially trained to handle escalations and answer our questions when we need help and are not sure what to do. They cannot do anything I cannot do. Most of the time they are more strict and enforcing of the Terms and Conditions.
5. PLEASE DO NOT THREATEN LEGAL ACTION!
When you threaten legal action, we are instructed to immediately cease trying to assist you and get ahold of a supervisor, (One of the extreme cases I mentioned earlier.) At that point they pull up my call, review it, see what is going on, then record what you are saying, in the event it does go to court, the recording WILL be played.
6. WE ARE NOT FROM INDIA!
We are from the Midwest, like any town in the good ol’ USA, we have diversity, which yes, includes some people of middle eastern descent.
7. PLEASE LET US SPEAK!
We are QA’d [ed. Tested based on quality assurance compliance] on a call to call basis, we have a goal time to meet on each call, but our QA department does understand that calls may go on longer, we do get docked if you keep rambling on and on about unrelated items, so please, keep it professional, respectful, and brief, and we will do the same.
8. IF A STORE PROMISES YOU SOMETHING, WE CANNOT PROVIDE IT!
I’m sorry, but that is the way it is, we have no way of telling what was or wasn’t promised to you. That is why we refer you back to the store to speak with the manager face to face.
9. WE DO NOT CARRY INVENTORY!
When you make a successful claim, we require that you send us the defective item, instead of sending you another, we send you a gift card for the purchase price of the item plus tax.
10. WE CANNOT CONTROL FEDEX/UPS/USPS!
Our system relies on the tracking provided by these companies to send your gift card, if their online tracking does not show the package in their system, it does not send the gift card.
11. BUSINESS DAYS MEANS MONDAY-FRIDAY.
If we say 8-10 business days, that is equal to about two weeks.
12. EGIFT CARDS ARE OUR FAVORITE OPTION!
The eGift Card arrives to your e-mail within 24 hours of FEDEX TRACKING stating that the package is in transit. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! 80% of eGift Card calls for me are along the lines of “I did not receive my eGift Card!” Out of that 80%, roughly 90% were sent to the customer’s spam folder, 5% were incorrect email address (Typos happen, I apologize, that’s why it’s important to speak clearly.) the remaining 5% are incorrectly dispatched.
13. IF YOU DO NOT WANT A GIFT CARD, YOU MAY REQUEST A CHECK!
You would be surprised at the amount of people state that they’ll never shop at such and such a store again, then accept a gift card. If you are no longer going to be a customer at that store, WHY DID YOU ACCEPT THE GIFT CARD THAT CAN ONLY BE USED AT THAT STORE?!?! You may request a check, but please do not be upset when it takes 10-14 business days to arrive, processing a check is a huge hassle, and it has to go through several departments, on top of waiting for your defective item to arrive to us BEFORE we even cut the check.
14. IF YOU ARE WITHIN 30 DAYS, YOU CAN RETURN IT TO THE STORE AND GET A FULL REFUND ON YOUR WARRANTY!
Regardless of what the representative in store says, if you are within your 30 days, you need to go to the store to get your warranty refund. We can process it, but we take the lesser of 10% or $25 as an administrative fee. I have literally seen checks sent out for less than a dime.
15. WARRANTIES ARE REGISTERED AT THE POINT OF SALE!
If a store representative asks for your information, you were sold a warranty, whether you know it or not. That is the ONLY TIME they request your information.
16. IF YOU ARE ACCIDENT PRONE, PLEASE GET THE ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE PLAN, YOU WILL THANK YOURSELF LATER!
A majority of my denied claims on laptops are when they have accidental damage to the item, without accidental damage coverage.
17. WE DO NOT GET BONUSES FOR DENYING COVERAGE OR SAVING MONEY!
We get bonuses for following standard call flow, attendance, compliance (adherence to schedule), and QA Scores.
18. BE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR RECEIPT!
The easiest way to locate your contract is by your receipt, please keep it. If you do not have your receipt anymore, the store can do what is called a “detailed customer lookup” to get you your receipt information.
19. IF YOU ARE OFFERED A REPLACEMENT, IT WILL BE OF LIKE SPECIFICATIONS TO YOUR OLD PRODUCT, REGARDLESS OF PRICE. (Also called Electronics Depreciate in Value over time)
That $2000 laptop you just HAD TO HAVE two years ago is only worth about $500 now, this is a warranty, not an upgrade plan, please do not complain about the price, we will not give you anything worse than what you had. If you are not satisfied with the replacement, you can request a check for the cost of the replacement. For replacement computers, we order them from PCMall or TigerDirect, who are very great with their refurbs.
20. IF YOU ARE OFFERED A REFURBISHED UNIT AS A REPLACEMENT, DO NOT GET OFFENDED.
Refurbished units come with a warranty (usually 90 days) from the company we purchase them from (PCMall or Tiger Direct) who have EXCELLENT customer service. If you so wish, you can purchase an extended warranty from them for your refurbished product, (which we do NOT administrate)
21. ONCE YOU RECEIVE YOUR GIFT CARD/CHECK/REPLACEMENT PRODUCT, YOUR WARRANTY IS FULFILLED.
Your warranty only covers a one time replacement, why is that? You could purchase a $500 phone, get sick of it, file a claim, purchase another phone, get sick of it, rinse and repeat.
22. THIS IS A WARRANTY, NOT INSURANCE!
If your cell provider offers insurance, PLEASE TAKE IT! It is so much better than our warranties, and a lot less of a hassle. AT&T and Sprint intentionally make things harder for you if you purchase an extended warranty, just to get you to get mad at us.
23. I AM A HUMAN BEING AS WELL, I MAKE MISTAKES.
I usually catch my mistakes, but if I don’t, please forgive me. I’m just human.
And remember folks, extended warranties are largely worthless, so why bother going through this ordeal in the first place? Just skip ’em.