23 Things An Extended Warranty Call Center Rep Wished You Knew

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

If we say 8-10 business days, that is equal to about two weeks.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A majority of my denied claims on laptops are when they have accidental damage to the item, without accidental damage coverage.

We get bonuses for following standard call flow, attendance, compliance (adherence to schedule), and QA Scores.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Beeker26 says:

    Having once worked in phone support I cannot stress #3 enough. In my case it was 99.9% of the calls that came in had people screaming at me and blaming me that their computers crashed and they lost all their work (with most not having saved in the last 4-6 hours).

    Screaming at me is not going to endear me to your plight.

    • dudski says:

      It shocks me how many people speaking to customer service reps – in stores, on the phone, in any context – don’t realize that they’re far more likely to get what they want and service that goes beyond the bare minimum if they’re calm and respectful.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I wish the call center folks would let the reps ask if the computer went “beep… beep beep beep beep” and if it “devoured their paper.”

    • Papa Midnight says:

      I’ll second this, having worked tech support both face to face and over the phone for a University.

  2. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    1. Buy major purchase items with a credit card that doubles your manufacturer’s warranty,
    2. Buy items with a decent warranty period from a reputable retailer,
    3. Keep your receipt AND credit card statement for that purchase,
    4, Take good care of said purchase,
    5. Forget all about items 1-23 listed in the above post.

    • DerangedKitsune says:

      Especially the part about treating the customer service reps like humans.

      They’re sub-human peons not worthy of your respect! Fuck ’em!


  3. Muddie says:

    So, the only way to really and truly get a supervisor is to threaten legal action?

    Other than that, the list makes sense but was a nice summary and refresher course.

    • f5alcon says:

      Threatening legal usually makes it worse. I do support type work and any customer that wants to go to legal does so but nothing else will be done in the meantime, so a 30 min fix might now take a week because of the legal threat.

    • edosan says:

      When I worked in phone tech support, threatening legal action got you an immediate transfer to customer service. Buh-bye.

    • c!tizen says:

      When I worked in phone support, if you threatened legal action all you got was an address for our legal department, an explanation that any further correspondence needs to be via certified letter to that address, an explanation that the issue has been flagged as a legal contact and no other agent will be allowed to help with the situation until the legal department has cleared the flag, and were then left with a dial tone.

    • Mythandros says:

      My call centre also tells me not to assist customers anymore once legal action is threatened.

      Customer Threatens legal action to do list.
      1. Provide phone number to legal.
      2. Discontinue call.

      As a previous commenter said, Buh-bye.

  4. Mike says:

    As someone who worked in the consumer electronics business let me say, 99% of these warranties are junk. If you have no idea how to fix anything, and you don’t have a friend close by who can fix whatever you are buying then maybe they would be worth it for some.

    But the reality is that these warranties are cash cows for retailers because they hardly have to pay anything out. Anyone who has worked retail will tell you, if you can sell these warranties well then you will be your manager’s favorite employ.

    • daemonaquila says:

      Yup. When I bought my car (recent used), the manager put ungodly pressure on me to buy an extended warranty. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, even when I said that there is no way I would ever buy one on anything, and should I cancel the purchase because this is his way of telling me that he’s selling a lemon. He kept pushing and pushing, and even used the stereotypical line,”What do I have to do to get you to walk out today with this extended warranty?” He even offered to drop the price on it. Newsflash – this was NOT my way to bargain for a reduced price on a stinking extended warranty!

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        I bartered with the car dealership on my Saturn Vue for an extended warranty thru GM. They wanted $2,000. I said $500, that’s it. After an hour, I walked away from the sale. They called me back the next day, agreed to $600, which was close enough for me.

        That warranty paid for $5,000+ worth of repairs- I paid $50 co-pays, which came to about $250 tops. I got rental cars if the repair would take 3 hours or longer to do, free towing (with that POS, I used quite a lot)

        Most dealership warranties are VERY negotiable.

  5. dolemite says:

    I only know one thing and it’s all I need to know: extended warranties aren’t worth the money.

  6. Norvy says:

    You lost me when you said Tiger Direct had excellent customer service. :/

  7. apple420 says:

    I’ll take a minute to praise Apple here. I had their extended warranty, which extended the warranty to 3 years from purchase. I took the computer to them 6 days after the warranty had expired for an ongoing problem, and they fixed the issue with no hassle. A little politeness and common sense goes a long way.

    • Mike says:

      As someone who sold a lot of Apple Care over the years let me say that what likely happened was that your hardware failed due to a known defect that was recalled. In that case they often do replace the equipment even out of warranty, not out of the kindness of their heart, but because they want to avoid class action lawsuits.

      • apple420 says:

        Yea that thought crossed my mind as well. I’m happy that they are fixing it, and I’m sure a lot of companies would have said, “warranty expired 6 days ago, too bad.”

        • thisusedtobemoreinterestingandhelpful says:

          As someone who sold/implemented Applecare you should have gotten a new computer, they just fixed a known issue. Also use your serial number on apple.com/support particularly if you buy through a third party to make sure the warranty registers from the day you bought it (from Best Buy, etc) rather than the day THEY bought it and keep the receipt!

          • apple420 says:

            My issue was just a bad hard drive. I’m not sure if that’s a known/common issue in the model I had, but it’s relatively minor. Even if they hadn’t fixed it (though they still have the computer at the moment) the expense wouldn’t have been too great.
            Now I have had Macs in the past with more serious “known issues”

      • regis-s says:

        There are still a lot of companies that would still charge and take their chances that you’ll just pay it.

        Don’t companies have what they call “silent warranties”? If a customer brings something in with a known issue they’ll still charge to fix it. Unless the customer specifically mentions a warranty, recall, or it being a known defect.

      • Charles Bronson says:

        You may have “sold a lot of Apple Care,” but that doesn’t mean you know anything about their policies. Repairing or replacing a product a week or two out of warranty is standard procedure. If they’re repairing something due to a known issue (like the NVidia chips), they’ll generally tell you why they’re making that exception, so you don’t expect them to normally repair a 4-year old computer that never had AppleCare on it.

      • bror says:

        Had the same thing happen, but three months out of standard warranty. Forgot to get Apple Care for my Macbook and the logic board went south with a thick green line across the screen as result. There were no recalls for this specific issue and model, but he store fixed as a warranty repair without even blinking. The genius just said “Your warranty just expired– of course we’ll take care of it”.

        You can argue back an fourth about the quality of Apple products and the service in Apple Stores, but there is one thing that’s clear- Apple Geniuses have an extreme flexibility to help you when things break. They might not do it, but the system doesn’t seem prevent them if they think an exception is called for.

    • yasth says:

      Ummm, just about any first party (i.e. from the MFG) warranty will do the same (or much much better, AppleCare in comparison to similarly priced business support sucks as it isn’t next business day on site fix)

      If you want to buy a warranty on a computer buy it from the manufacturer, this works even if you buy in a store (well except for Sony).

  8. prefaced says:

    The only incentive I get for selling extended warranties at my job is actually keeping my job.

  9. Ocyrus says:

    If you can’t take the heat, don’t work in a call center.
    Another whiner.

    • Commenter24 says:

      I kind of thought the same thing. A few of the points were “do this to make MY job easier,” not “do this so I can better help you.”

    • pop top says:

      I think this line of thinking because it’s so pigheaded, especially in this economy.

      • pop top says:

        Er, should be “hate” instead of “think”. That’s what I get for not proofreading.

      • daemonaquila says:

        Bad economy? Not an excuse. A bad economy is not an excuse either to the law or society for turning tricks on the corner, selling drugs, blue-collar or white-collar (like the extended warranty scam) theft, defrauding customers, etc. When someone whines that they “had to” take a job they hate as a CSR for a bad company, become a collection caller, etc., they don’t get an ounce of pity.

        • pop top says:

          You don’t get to be an asshole to people simply because they work in a certain job. Whether or not you condone the “whining”, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to be a gigantic douchebag and treat people as less than human.

        • Mythandros says:

          And neither do you for falling for those warranty scams.

          As a call centre employee, not only will I laugh at your ignorance behind your back, but I’ll make fun of just how stupid you really are to my co-workers.

          Isn’t the world a wonderfull place when we all get along?

    • ovalseven says:

      A CSR tries to be helpful and you call it “whining”?

      Really, I didn’t get the impression he was complaining about his job.

    • Gladeye says:

      Either Ocyrus is just trying to be provocative, or he was raised by parents with poor values. Manners and respectfulness are lost arts. My wife and I make a big deal out of not only instilling these traits in our children, but modeling them as well. Besides, as more and more of the population becomes rude, insensitive, or abrasive, there’s bound to be some lucrative work available for the few people who can remain calm, civil, and patient.

    • SkreanAme says:

      Hahahah. Nope, it’s much better to put the person down and start doodling or reading a book. When enough silence has passed reiterate what you can do for them. Rinse, repeat. Generally they either hang up or give up in frustration that all of their screamy baby tantrum talk gets them exactly dick.

      • Mythandros says:

        I’ll usually let them rant and then let some silence pass.. they return with a stern “Are you done?”

        And that usually makes them feel as stupid as they sound.

        THEN and ONLY then, once they gain some level of humility can I help them.

        Remember people, YOU called US. YOU need OUR help, not the other way around.

  10. cmdr.sass says:

    24. No matter what your warranty says, we’ll try to find a way to deny coverage.

    • Mythandros says:

      Nope. Another mis-informed person.

      Any GOOD call centre will own up if it’s a warranty replacement.

      However.. if YOU pooched the equipment, as happens in 99% of cases, then why should we pay for that? YOU broke it.. YOU pay for it.

  11. Saffron S. says:

    I can vouch for #4 as I used to work “Save Team” for one of the big wireless service companies. When you ask for a Supervisor, you’re getting the Escalation Desk — nothing more. Supervisors never took calls when I worked for the wireless phone company, or for the huge TV/Internet/Phone company either. It gets you someone with a few extra months under their belt.

    Even so, be nice to the Escalation Team people. Imagine doing a job to keep a roof over your and your kids heads where you know every single time that phone “bong”s in your ear it’s going to be another screamer or another abusive ranter or another fight. There’s a reason Call Centre people drink as much as they do. It’s a really thankless job.

    And with #5, that center is being /nice/ about things. Where I worked (both places) the second someone said A) they were recording the call, or B) they were going to sue, we were to immediately END the conversation, tell the customer we could no longer help them and refer them to Legal down at the Head Office. Threatening legal action or saying you’re recording the call for your lawyer will usually force a Rep who started the call /wanting/ to help you to stop (whether they want to or not).

    #17 I can vouch for too. Call Center employees get bonuses for meeting the QA dept’s list from Head Office … and even then, that bonus is rarely more than a few cents an hour. When I asked if there’s anything else I can do for you today 3 times, I wasn’t being snarky — I was trying to keep my job.

  12. daemonaquila says:

    I’ll give most of this a fail, and here’s why:

    4) This is proof that the people you work for are NOT on the up and up, and you should quit if you have an ounce of self-respect. If a customer asks for a supervisor, they should get a supervisor.

    5) FAIL! This is EXACTLY WHY people should threaten legal action, in a calm and precise fashion. That’s the only way to get an actual supervisor? Perfect! Thank you for reminding people of the magic words. They just need to sound icy cold and serious, versus blustering and full of crap, so that when they sue and the recording is played, they look good.

    7) Nope. I really don’t care about how your job depends on being able to get me off the phone as quickly as possible. All I care about is you resolving the problem for me. If your company docks you for taking the time required to deal with a customer’s problem, that’s another cue that the company isn’t on the up and up.

    Oh, and extended warranties are a scam, so the company you’re working for is scum regardless. Once again, go get a job elsewhere if you have any self respect and don’t be surprised if a customer who’s been raped by your bosses is a bit irate.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      all the places i have worked, when you threaten legal action and get put in touch with a supervisor, the supervisor is just going to collect your contact information to pass to the legal department and then give you the contact information for the legal department so your lawyer can talk to their lawyer. the threat of legal action for all of my previous employers triggered the “and at this point the only thing you have to ever say to this person again is ‘yes, here is the legal department’s information. all further contact must be made through them'” policy and no CSR would be permitted to even attempt to help you again

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Agreed. When I was in Tech Support, we immediately ceased support, informed the customer that we were not lawyers, and gave them the information to contact our Legal department. We were instructed this way so as not to say things that would put the company in a bad legal spot.

        Good luck getting something resolved in a reasonable amount of time THAT way.

        • Mythandros says:

          Yes, a very common misconception.

          Since when does threatening ANYONE in ANY situation get you what you want? Unless of course, what you want is a fight.

          I’ve had people call me thinking that they threaten legal action and they’ll get me to give them anything they want. These people really aren’t very intelligent, because this plays into my hand.
          If you are a bad enough customer that you’re ready to threaten legal action to get what you want.. then I really want nothing to do with you.. which works out perfectly because I then pass you along and hang up, moving on to the next person. And since I didn’t want to deal with you to begin with, this is a win-win situation for me.

          (To clarify, the “you” being used in this comment is a general “you”, not one directed specifically at Platypi.)

    • pop top says:

      What company has bosses that sexually assault their customers? That’s horrible.

      Oh wait, you’re just trivializing rape.

    • f5alcon says:

      You have obviously never worked in a call center, every one is like this, every computer and electronics company, the support for whatever computer you are typing this on

    • Michaela says:

      “If a customer asks for a supervisor, they should get a supervisor.”
      No. You are free to ask for whatever you wish. However, the company is not bound by anything to honor your request. No, they shouldn’t lie to you about who you are transfered to, but they probably just get around this by saying “let me transfer you over to someone.” as you complain.

      “This is EXACTLY WHY people should threaten legal action, in a calm and precise fashion. That’s the only way to get an actual supervisor? Perfect! Thank you for reminding people of the magic words.”
      No. Most supervisors really do not care about you. As long as they did nothing wrong, your “lawsuit” is complete crap. They will just get the legal dept to handle you.

      “Nope. I really don’t care about how your job depends on being able to get me off the phone as quickly as possible. All I care about is you resolving the problem for me.”
      Then stop talking about stupid things. The individual was referring to people who decide to babble on and on, rather than be clear and concise about their problem (which always produces better results). If you want your problem fixed, state the problem, state what you want, and then shut up and listen. Your call time will probably drop in half, AND the issue will be resolved the best it can.

      “Once again, go get a job elsewhere if you have any self respect and don’t be surprised if a customer who’s been raped by your bosses is a bit irate.”
      Perhaps you don’t realize that most of us still live in areas where randomly quitting your job is considered a bad idea. If you feel so strongly that they should quit, might I suggest you employ them in another job of equal (or better) pay, hours, and duties?

      • Linoth says:

        Supervisor: No, actually they shouldn’t. A lot of people have this misconception that a supervisor is going to suck up to you and give you what you want. Most of the time, the rep you talk to can handle your problem if you let them, or is denying you because you’re not eligible for the help you want (be it warranty, different rate plan, etc.) When I worked call centers, if a supervisor was actually necessary to help you, I would ask you to hold, plead your case, and be right back to you within 60 seconds with their answer.

        Call time: Look, every company out there evaluates you by metrics these days, rather than by quality of your work. They’re not trying to get you off the phone faster because they hate you. They also don’t want to listen to the story about your uncle Jim going fishing last weekend. Similarly, making your call time longer makes everyone wait longer to talk to someone, which we’re always happy to hear you complain about as well, since that just eats up more time. Keep it professional and stop pretending you’re entitled to special treatment.

        Legal action: 95% of places are going to stonewall you and stop helping you as soon as you make this threat. That’s why you shouldn’t use it, period. Also, I’d say out of all the times I’ve heard legal threats, only twice was it carried through on. With the first, the lawyer was bluffing and stopped emailing us after the second month, and with the second, the lawyer CC’d us on an email telling the customer to never use his name in that context again.

        Extended Warranties: They’re a tool. A very profitable tool, but a tool. Like any other tool, knowing when to use them is critical. Do I get extended warranties on my electronics? No, I treat them well and they last for years, so there’s no purpose. But I did get an extended warranty on my car, and got around $800 worth of work done on it in 3 years under the warranty (which cost me $1500 + interest over 5 years.) Why do I accept that? Because I couldn’t have afforded the repairs when they were needed, but I could afford to pay that little bit of extra money every month. It was a loss of money, but it helped me when I needed it, so it was money well spent.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      First of all, a lot of us live in area’s where there are no better jobs and even salaried workers are doing the work of 2-3 people so they really do not have it much better. If it was a choice between fast food and the call center (which are the only 2 jobs you can get here and you are lucky to get one in the first place) I would take the call center any day. You would get screamed at at both jobs, but from what I gathered by living here, I would prefer to have someone scream at me on the phone than holding up a fist to my head because their sandwich is wrong.

      If you are going to act like this please do not buy any consumer electronics or cell phones in the future as you obviously don’t deserve to own them, and the companies that manufacture them probably don’t want a customer like you anyways. If you can’t respect a person on the phone at least a little bit, then you don’t deserve to own fancy electronics.

      As far as the supervisor goes, perhaps it would just be easier to call everyone a “call supervisor” (and call the higher up’s something else), which would fix the problem! Seriously I am sure the grunts are fed the supervisor line every day multiple times, there is no way you are going to reach an actual supervisor at any call center as whatever issue you are having the grunt has probably already heard of multiple times (perhaps even multiple times per day), your issue is not unique whether or not you think it is.

      Now the warranty pitch I totally agree with that one, stores should not be upselling warranties on unfair terms or be misrepresenting the warranty when telling the consumer what it covers. That is why I do business with amazon.com for most of my large purchases since I do not have to worry about things like that when I shop with them. A store that falsifies a warranty by having employees tell consumers that the warranty covers this and that when it really doesn’t is a store that I do not want to do business with, especially if I cannot understand the terms of the warranty myself.

    • Mythandros says:

      You aren’t very perceptive, are you?

      Your post is evidence of this.

    • Joeypants says:

      As the customer care supervisor for a small company, I would like to say that when you ask for a supervisor here, you’ll probably get me on the phone. But if you call right away and don’t try to work with the first person, you will NOT get a supervisor (unless I know you personally, and you are “worth it”).
      For larger companies, you will get that second tier CC rep who deals with escalations. If every loser who let their phone battery die called and demanded a supervisor, there would be very few non-supervisors. Getting a supervisor immediately for a nonsense problem is not a right, as much as asking for the CEO does not grant you an audience in his office.

  13. ridbx says:

    People from India aren’t from the Middle East; India is part of South Asia.

  14. RvLeshrac says:


    Retail stores request your information for about SIX THOUSAND REASONS, only *ONE* of which involves service plans.

    • Grungo says:

      Wholeheartedly agree. 99 out of 100 times they want the info for marketing, not a warranty.

    • Kitamura says:

      Place I worked at didn’t even take your information for the warranty, if you bought the extended warranty (which you know, actually was fairly decent on small appliances, if you figured your coffee maker would fail inside 2-3 years), you’d get a code on your receipt and you had to fill out the information online (or by phone).

      I will point out that #14 is true. If you’re inside the store’s return policy period (which is not always 30 days), you can get the product and warranty refunded at the point of sale, no need to go through the hassle of trying deal with someone on the phone (Instead trade for the hassle of dealing with someone in person). NB, might not be true at all stores, but definitely most of the ones I’ve seen

    • 339point4 says:

      I think #14 is BS too.

      “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.”

      If you take the lesser of 10% or $25 as a fee, then the customer’s claim has to be $250 or more before you take the cap of $25. The resulting check would be $225 or more.
      If you take 10% on a claim less than $250, the claim would have to be $0.11 or less (and you would have to round DOWN to the nearest penny) in order for the check to amount to less than a dime. Do people really have warranties on things that cost eleven cents? Can the average consumer even buy something that costs only eleven cents?

  15. xspook says:

    One of the very few times I ever bought an extended warranty was for a $900 refrigerator. It came with a 1 year complete warranty and 5 years for major parts such as compressor, evaporator, condenser, dryer, and connecting tubing. The price was $125 for a 5 year warranty. I understood that it would not “add” 5 years, just cover me up to 5 years. The extended warranty was a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. ANY thing that went wrong for 5 years would be covered as well as reimbursement for spoiled food.

    The main problem was the salesman did not and “could not” get me the exact legal terms and conditions at the time of sale. He said they’d be mailed to me after I purchased it, but “here’s everything it covers” as he showed me a sheet of paper with bullet-points.

    Against my better judgment, I went for it. I knew that any service call from an appliance repair tech would start at $70 just to have them make the service call and that a large majority of refrigerators ice makers will fail within the first 5 years.

    Sure enough, about 3 years into it, the in-door water dispenser failed. It was fixed at no cost.

    Soon after that, the icemaker failed, also fixed at no cost.

    If I had not opted for the extended warranty, I would have been out well over $200 for those repairs.

    • consumerfan says:

      No cost? Did you have to take time off work to be there when the repairman came – or did s/he come on a Saturday?

  16. mike says:

    There is only one thing you need to know:
    American Express offers up to one year of additional warranty on your purchases. Most credit card companies offer the same.

    Registration of the product is usually not necessary. I know in the case of AmEx, you don’t even need the receipt. Just tell them when you bought it and they can bring up the purchase. There are no hassles and it’s free.

    • DirtyDUB says:

      I encountered a customer with this exact frame of mind. He had bought a laptop at a retailer with his Amex card and went through the motions of a claim. His motherboard failed three weeks after HP’s one year warranty ended. He actually had to have the machine diagnosed, fax said paperwork in and get a quote on a replacement motherboard. Amex paid him out the price of the repair only not a brand new unit or what he paid for it.

  17. brinks says:

    For the most part, this is good advice. Your extended warranty doesn’t cover half the stuff the sales associate will probably tell you it does.

    However, I’m not sure which companies this guy’s employer services, but one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that their warranty is registered automatically. I spent several years as a manager at Staples. Sometimes we would offer to register the warranty for people if we had time or it it would be the difference between making the sale or not, but that usually wasn’t the case. Months later, people would have a claim, call the warranty number, then call us back at the store enraged that the service center had no idea who they were.

    BTW, MOST extended warranties are not worth it by any stretch of the imagination. However, they may be worth it for more expensive items that are prone to stuff failing (i.e. laptops). It’s nice to know that you don’t have to pay for a brand new motherboard or power supply when those things fail right after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. However, we had to try to push them on things like calculators and flash drives. Yeah…you’re an idiot if you say yes in that case. Don’t buy it on anything that’s cheap to replace.

  18. PunditGuy says:

    These aren’t always a bad deal. I bought a DLP TV around 2005 and a 3-year extended warranty (total of 4 years of coverage — the extension was for after the manufacturer’s warranty period). I wouldn’t have bothered if it had been an LCD TV, but I knew that DLPs were a little more mechanically active because of the color wheel.

    The light engine started having some issues around year 3, and it significantly affected the picture after a few months. A tech came and replaced the whole light engine, so I got a brand new bulb out of the deal. The total repair was worth more than $700, and I never got a bill or a hassle. The extended warranty had cost me $150.

  19. Moniker says:

    Why should I care that your QA department thinks all problems can be solved in the same amount of time?

    If it takes a long time to deal with my problem then it takes a long time to deal with my problem.

    • dudski says:

      And your problem can be dealt with more efficiently if you don’t go off on a tangent about all the places you had to look before you finally remembered where you put your receipt or your entire decision-making process before you bought the product in the first place or the stomach problems you were having last week.

      There are calls that take a long time because the issue is a genuinely complex one, and there are calls that take a long time because the customer can’t stop talking even after they’ve offered up all the relevant information.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Amen, brother. Sometimes, people need to vent. Unfortunately, much of that venting is not conducive to resolving the situation. CSRs get in trouble when they cannot control the rambling customers, or when they spend too much time on non-productive chit-chat.

      • Moniker says:

        Going off on a tangent is a waste of my time.

        The problem is that the QA limits force operators hand regardless of why the call is taking a long time.

      • Joeypants says:

        Or making idle conversation while you decide what you want, or to take a different call while I have to listen to that one from a distance, or put me on hold disappear for 10-15 minutes (no exaggeration). Don’t be surprised if the call gets disconnected, leaving you angry that you have to call back.
        Our company has almost no wait time (we don’t even have a cue), so don’t call until you are ready for the call. I’m tremendously patient but my pity jar is empty when you waste everyone’s time.

    • Linoth says:

      And they’re not going to hang up on you if the magic number approaches. However, they’ll appreciate you being brief and not wasting time, and that long wait time you complain about will be reduced if you stick to the matter at hand and keep your calls from running longer than necessary.

      And in case you missed the part about “appreciate,” that means they may go out of their way to help you more than they normally would. For example, some companies won’t offer a prepaid shipping label, but may be allowed to supply one if you ask. This rep, being happy you didn’t waste time, may just give you one without you having to ask.

  20. KPS2010 says:

    People from India aren’t from the Middle East; India is part of South Asia.

  21. Jim Fletcher says:

    I worked for over 10 years in call centers. It still amuses me how many of my friends and family don’t get that supervisors are usually only an administrative role in these places – they aren’t really there to help customers. That’s generally not their function. They’re there to monitor calls to verify that the phone reps are hitting all the proper verbal cues and to make sure that the reps are on the phone for the bulk of their shift.

    Even if the person that you’re escalated to doesn’t have the job title of “supervisor” you’re getting escalated to the person whose actual function and training is to handle customers. Most of the time, when you get a real supervisor they’re just going to ask one of the second-tier people what they should do.

    • Commenter24 says:

      I’ve worked in a few call centers myself and my experience is the exact opposite of yours. The supervisors in the places I worked had the power to resolve problems and had more “power” than the CSRs did.

    • Mythandros says:

      In my place of work, supervisors are there to crack the whip.. but most of them have come from the pool of technical reps on the phone.. so they have the experience to deal with technical issues… but here’s the catch:

      When a TSR gets promoted toa supervisor.. they no longer have the experience of what goes on on the “front-lines” and quickly lose touch with what the issues are and what the solutions to those issues are. The longer they are a supervisor, the more obsolete their knowledge becomes.

      In my business.. things change almost daily.

      It’s VERY difficult to keep up with.. especially if you are trying to keep up on the responsibilities of TWO roles. It’s like working two full time jobs at the same time.

  22. The Black Bird says:

    Regarding #20. If I am offered a replacement unit that is refurbished, one that I have no way of knowing what problems it had / has / will have, not to mention the physical appearance, for a new phone that I’ve only had for 35 days and looks brand new I will get offended.

    • Mythandros says:


      A refurbished unit has been serviced and tested, newly manufacturered equipment is not.
      In a way, a refurbed unit can be a better idea sometimes.. because you know the issues have been ironed out.. a new phone.. who knows? Might be a lemon.

      • The Black Bird says:

        For one thing I would have no way of knowing what problems the refurbished phone originally had nor would I have any way of knowing if the problems had been fixed properly. That same phone could have also been a lemon.

        Then there is the issue of the warranty. Why should I wind up with a 90 day warranty when I had one for a year? I have a friend who had their phone replaced through one of these rip-off companies and after the replacement died, shortly after the 90 days were up, he was told nothing could be done except pay another “deductible” and they would replace the phone again.

        I concur with the many people here who said not to purchase these junk warranties. In all of my years I have never bought one, nor have I ever needed one.

      • YokoOhNo says:

        Nice to be argumentative. But who, other than a teleco shill, would suggest that a phone that has already had one problem wouldn’t have as good a chance to have another problem? Do you think that the refurbish did anything other than fix the original problem as fast as possible to be able to get it out the door?

        I have a droid…I’m on my 4th one. First one lasted 8 months…the next two lasted one month (between the two of them) and the final one i received has lasted 3 months so far (+/-).

    • IntheKnow says:

      Under their original warranties, many manufacturers send refurbs – a big item here being printers. A huge portion of retailer’s returns are products that do work properly (customer didn’t “like” it or use it properly) or have have minor cosmetic or other damage – these units are fixed/repackaged/tested and are fine. Digital cameras – some of the manufacturers put on the inside cover of the box “please do not return this to the retailer, call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx.” The reason this is done is that most returns are user error or ignorance, not defects. If these units are returned to the mfr, they are tested and repackaged as well.

  23. midwestkel says:

    For number 12, they need new IT people. The only reason they would end up in spam folders is if their mail server is not configured correctly, just saying.

  24. MightyHorse says:

    seems to me these call center guys are only there to remind consumers that they shouldn’t have wasted their money on the extended warranty to begin with.

  25. jaredwilliams says:

    Yeah extended warranties are largely useless until your shit breaks then you wish you had gotten one.

  26. StrangeEmily says:

    I remember my time working for a call center, it involved dealing with standard warranties for Prepaid Cell Phones. Even with the customers screaming at me, threatening to sue me (yes me personally) or kill me, eventually I got used to it and it was one of the best times of my life.

    Most of the time the damage was accidental, or it was someone who had their phone past the 30 day limit, wanted a refund and when we refused, you could hear the cell phone being crushed underneath their foot, then they’d demand a refund because it was broken, then we’d have to explain accidental damage wasn’t covered.

    Death threats were a walk in the park, we had to just sit there and take it, listen to what they’d do to us if they ever found out where we were. As for being sued, oh that was great, they’d ask for your full name and home address, my co-workers loved that the best, they would always answer truthfully. None of them ever heard back from a lawyer, that actually hurt their feelings more than the actual threat.

    Oh? You just paid for your cell phone at the store, and walked out the door 30 minutes ago? It cost more than 100 dollars? The cell phone screen has gone blank after talking for 20 minutes, outdoors, in the middle of a thunderstorm, out in the pouring rain? Oh, the cell phone is completely dead now? The manager just told you to call us?

    I miss that place, I really do. Man I’m actually smiling.

    • Mythandros says:

      I’ve had my life threatened too.

      Guy called in, didn’t like my response to what the problem was and said:
      “You F-ing fool, I’m going to come down there and crack your skull open.”

      My response:

      “Three things before we finish this call tonight:
      1. I have your name, address and phone number on the screen in front of me
      2. I have a phone sitting next to me that I *WILL* be calling the police from.
      3. You call has been recorded.

      Have a nice evening.” Click.

      I sent the call to my call management desk, they sent it to the police. Guy got a visit from the cops and is now sitting in a comfy cell.

      Don’t threaten us over the phone, you are putting yourself in a lose-lose situation and me in a win-win situation.

  27. jesusofcool says:

    In the future Consumerist, can you take off the all caps, even if it’s someone else’s language? I find it difficult to care about the point an article is making when someone is text screaming at me.

  28. IntheKnow says:

    In Between the Lines:

    1. Sales Associates will lie, cheat and do whatever it takes to get you to say “Yes.” Many tell you things they believe are “facts,” but are actually half-truths.

    For instance, “No Lemon” guarantee = three repairs and the fourth is a replacement. The joke’s on you: It must be for the same type of failure and mfr work doesn’t count – so, for instance, you can have 1,2,3 repairs in year one, circuit board, power supply, etc – this doesn’t count towards “no lemon.” In effect you can have 3,4,5 and more attempts at a repair before a replacement is “authorized.”

    2.. The terms and conditions are buried in the literature and designed for you to ignore them.
    Retailers don’t expect you to read this legal dribble while your are making a purchase and a “snap” decision on the extended service.

    How many of you purchased an Ipod and were told “if it breaks or you drop it,” and there is no coverage for damage?
    How many of you purchased a “replacement plan” on a tool with a 3 or 5 year warranty already – and replacement occurs after???
    How many of you purchased a “2 year plan,” when the only coverage you are buying is for year 2?
    On and on.

    6. Although friendly and from various US cities, the call center reps are not technical experts on the products, many are work-at-home moms (not a slight). Conversely, India has thrived in this industry because its entrepreneurs, many originating in Banglore, foresaw US demand for these services – the demand for these jobs, considered a stepping-stone for any business career, is enormous and hence the quality of contact center employee is very high and technically proficient. They are even trained in various English dialects (Australian, etc.)

    8. Store associates bend the truth regarding extended service agreement all the time.

    15. At many retailers, the info you provide at the register is for their marketing purposes. The company that the OP works for would rather you lose your receipt and count on a percentage of people to do so.

    19. The OP is wrong. The OP only takes calls for one or two specific retailers. Some retailer plans do offer full value replacement. FYI – Best Buy’s plan is a notorious “fair market value” replacement.


    Many readers of and posters on this thread are on the money. There are still far too many gullible consumers who cave in to these hoaxes at the point of purchase.

  29. kujospam says:

    For threatening legal action, do so, but only when it makes sense.

    I sent in my Playstation 3 for repair for sony, and didn’t send the hard drive, but I did send the cage that holds the harddrive. The tech told me to send everything that came with the ps3 originally unless I did not have it. That is why I sent the cage and not the harddrive. Well, 2 weeks later I get a ps3 with no cage. I called them up and they said that is policy, and first they said I would have to buy one from a 3rd party or buy a new ps3 ( after I just sent them 180 to fix the one I just got back). After I threatened legal action did they finally say they would talk to their repair techs, and low and behold they send me one.

  30. MountainCop says:

    Believe me, I realize that call center people are just that – people. I will always treat you with courtesy and respect – even when you try to BS me. And rest assured I will know, because before I even pick up the phone, I will have thoroughly read the policy and I will know what is and isn’t covered. If I determine it’s covered, you can bet it says so in my policy. I will politely point that out to you. If you want to get rude and/or argue with me, that’s fine. At that point, the call is over and the matter goes to my attorney.

    Yes, most of the people who call you may be stupid, boorish, and rude, but I will guarantee you that I am not one of them.

    If I ask for a supervisor – it isn’t to try to argue the terms, it’s to let them know I have a recording of you not doing your job or being rude and unprofessional. And I will record that conversation too.

    If I’m going to contact my lawyer – you and your supervisor will be the absolute last people to know. You will find out when your legal department calls you in about the subpoena. And my attorney and I will be more than happy to use my recordings in court.

    And the settlement price goes up. And up.

    • Mythandros says:

      That’s perfectly fine.

      And educated customer is an intelligent customer.
      I LIKE it when our customers call in and know what they are talking about.

      It makes their life easier, my life easier and the call much shorter.

      Thank you for actually reading the terms, not enough people do.

  31. gman863 says:

    A few things the call center rep forgot to mention:

    1. Almost all extended (and mfr.) warranties do not guarantee a time frame for repairing or replacing an item. Keep this in mind if you’ll have an issue being without your notebook PC or main TV for weeks or months at a time if it breaks.

    2. If you feel you’re getting jerked around on the warranty coverage or time it takes to settle the claim, send a certified return receipt requested letter to the retailer’s home office with a copy to your State Attorney General (note this in the copy to the retailer with “cc: (State Name) Attorney General”). Do NOT tell the extended warranty company you’re doing this.

    After three months of excuses from Sam’s Club warranty company, this strategy produced a refund check for a DVD recorder within 10 days and a refund of the warranty cost from Sam’s.

    Most Attorneys General have extended warranty companies on their radar. Conn’s (a major Texas appliance and electronics retailer) was fined millions over this several months ago.

  32. stevied says:

    We get bonuses for following standard call flow, attendance, compliance (adherence to schedule), and QA Scores.

    BS. Money saved = Money for bonuses. Discretionary/ Grey Area cases that could cost the company $ and thus reduce the employee bonuses will be settled in favor of the company. Early in the bonus cycle and the Grey Areas might be settled in favor of the customer. But the last day of the bonus cycle ….. bonus on the line….. always going to be settled in favor of the company.

    I caught a major package freight company’s claims manager (yes, manager… I had his direct telephone extention number that was not answered by voice mail) in the great “we don’t make no $ off of denying claims BS”.

    Asked what happens to the paid excess value insurance fees when no claims is filed against the shipment.

    Answer: The company’s excess monies are returned to the general fund of the company.

    Do employees receive any kind of bonuses?

    Answer: Yes, based upon general performance, number of tasks performed and the like.

    Where do those bonus funds come from?

    Answer: Out of the profits of the company.

    Are the amount of the employee performance bonueses predetermined, or can the amount of the bonus change depending upon the health of the company.

    Answer: General employees are within a predetermined range.

    What about management? Senior Staff?

    Answer: There is no predetermined amount for the upper management.

    Are you one of those senior staff?

    Answer: Yes.

    Hmmm. So if you do something intentional, or direct your employees of your department to do something intentional, and you increase the money for which no claims are paid, then in fact you have done something to potentially increase your bonus?

    Answer: That is not what I said. You are putting words in my mouth.


    So when Employee A on March 1st says condition ABC are in the grey area but we will pay the claim, but Employee B on May 29th says the identical condition ABC are in the grey area and we will deny the claim, then which employee is acting for the benefit of the customer and which one for the benefit of your bonus?

    Answer: This call is terminated. You do not have the right to call my extension. If you wish to pursue this matter further you need to contact the company’s Legal Counsel listed on our website.

    So the call center rep thinks there is no bonus for him/her based upon denying the claim? Maybe not her, but I am willing to bet his/her boss’s boss has a vested interest in his/her denying the claim.

    • stevied says:

      BTW, the questions were not asked in that sequence.

      I had this guy bragging on his position in the company. That he made policy.

      Make Policy? Oh, that makes one a pretty big shot. Stroked the ego.

      Which then allowed me to question the actions of A versus B and whether B has incentive to deny a claim.

      A and B don’t get profit sharing bonus, but he did.


      • Mythandros says:

        That’s how ANY company with that kind of system in place works.

        The frontline employees get screwed and the management get the bonus.

        I thought that was obvious?

  33. BigDave says:

    Regarding #1; ‘incentives’ is a polite euphemism for ‘death threats’.

  34. pdj79 says:

    I’m having a hard time with his comments on #14 — “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.”

    While I buy the administrative fee, I don’t buy the example. For someone to receive “less than a dime”, the value of the object would have to be less than a dime, at which point there wouldn’t be a warranty to worry about because said item would not be worthy of one. The math doesn’t support your claim. The lowest amount the item would have to be to switch from 10% to $25 would be $251. That would still leave $226. The 10% is naturally going to be lesser the lower you go, ending up with the $.10 item costing $.01 in administrative fees, leaving the total at the “less than a dime” the OP is claiming. So either he’s lying to make his point, or there’s some seriously f*cked up things happening at his place of business. The paper and ink that check is written on cost more than the fee they took. I just don’t buy it.

  35. YokoOhNo says:

    How is your preferred Extended Waarranty replacement company? Oh you don’t have one, you take what is offered at the store?

    Then points 1-23 are worthless, as this company has even less of a motive to provide you with any service than a nationally known company (BoA, Comcast, Best Buy, etc). Their only motive is to profit and being nice to the front line people isn’t going to get you anything more than what they feel they can get away with giving you. the more they deny the more $ they make in the form of corporate profits and bonuses (oh right, the guy said they don’t get bonuses for denying people…LOL)