/ Money, Shopping

Is this the end for rip-off extended warranties?

A man watching a blank or static screen of his television.

Which? has long questioned the value of extended warranties purchased alongside TVs, washing machines and fridge freezers. Now the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) wants to see them improved – will it work?

The OFT study stated pointedly that: ‘our report highlights competition concerns in the £1 billion per year market that could mean consumers are not getting the best value for money.’

Dixons, Comet and Argos have offered legal undertakings to improve the way that the extended warranty market works. There will now be a period of consultation on the proposals.

The proposed improvements include a comparison website in order to make it easier to compare prices, more accessible in-store information and an independent mystery shop to ensure that sales staff provide accurate information.

Overpriced and over here

When I started a Conversation on this topic back in December we’d just investigated the market. Our research highlighted how expensive extended warranties could be, with a low likelihood of the appliance actually needing repair within the warranty term.

Many of you voted in our poll, with an overwhelming 93% saying that you don’t think extended warranties are necessary. One of our commenters, Sheri, said she rarely buys extended warranties:

‘As I have never regretted not doing so, I must have saved myself hundreds of pounds over the years!’

And, as commenter Anne pointed out, there is also the fact that you have cover under the Sale of Goods Act if the fault occurs within a reasonable period of time. If you’ve paid by credit card you’ll have the protection of section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Good riddance?

We feel that extended warranties are something of an anachronism. Back in the day when white goods and televisions cost relatively more and were more likely to break down, they probably had some value, but less so now.

So where do you stand? Are you pleased that the regulator has acted to ensure that these products will be sold transparently and realistically priced in the future? Do you think that the OFT should have gone further and banned the sale of extended warranties?

Or do extended warranties serve a purpose and provide peace of mind when you buy an expensive electrical appliance?

Comments
Member

20/30 years ago you could but white goods and the chances are it’s still working strong today. These days the quality and components are so cheap and they then use the cheapest people to build them so the chances are the warranty will be needed. Just a shame that through cheap practices people are very weary of them, and rightly so. Also a shame I can’t afford to buy white goods let alone any warranty

Member

Extended Warranty providers should have to clearly state what their warranty provides over and above the protection given by existing laws. Customers could then make informed decisions about their value.

I’ve never purchased an extended warranty and have never regretted my decision.

Member

I think extended warranties are essential, but they should be included in the price of all domestic appliances.

In theory we have the protection afforded by the Sale of Goods Act, but in practice it is difficult to get retailers to face up to their responsibilities.

Obviously the manufacturer needs protection against unfair warranty claims.

The motor industry, once the target of a lot of criticism, is gradually offering longer warranties and this is an important factor in buying a car. We should be pushing for washing machines and TVs with a 10 year parts & labour warranty, and I hope that Which? will help promote these products provided that they meet other criteria used to select ‘Best buys’.

Member
L2 says:
13 May 2012

There are often extended warranties for certain parts outside of the original car manufacturers warranty period, especially when there is a full service history.

Member

Depends on nature of equipment or appliance and the
amount paid therefor. Personally think a fridge freezer for example
need not be the subject of an extended warranty but then I generally
buy the more reputable brands as to consumer goods, not the budget
names where there is, I suppose, a greater likelihood of a breakdown.

Fairly often, any (rare) breakdown is a very minor problem that with a bit
of knowledge can be rectified quite easily w/out spending much at all
in getting relevant spare part(s).

In the case of a quality British-made amplifier of old that I had, all that needs
doing was replacement of the amplifier fuse costing just pennies.

Member

I agree that these factors are important, but I was just trying to propose that manufacturers should have a greater responsibility to ensure that we get a reasonable amount of use from their products. My experience is that reputable manufacturers often produce goods with that are unreliable, so buying by brand is not a guarantee of quality.

If you can replace a blown fuse or fix a broken connection that can save time and money and avoid adding to the mountain of unnecessary waste. If you can do more you can sometimes hold onto goods that others have thrown ten or twenty years ago. I’m very glad I learned to wield a soldering iron when I was a teenager.

Member

Correction:… amplifier I have, not had as still in daily use, to power the
computer as to audio for one.

Have noticed people throwing away perfectly functioning electrical and
electronic goods, come to think of it, other usable household stuff as
well, all in fairly/good nick.

Member
Barbara Ford says:
10 February 2012

It is worth noting that extended warranties can be miss leading as only part of any appliances are covered by them. Before taking out read very carefully what is covered; check the depreciation of equipment over warrranty period. I was caught out by AEG’s extended 5 year one over the corrosion of the back plate liner of the main oven; it isn’t covered. AEG had discontinued certain parts for an oven less than 4 years old meaning I have had to buy a new double oven. Even Which don’t seem to expect ovens to last more than 5 years! I feel there should be a strong campaign to improve lifetime of modern ovens for ecological reasons; they are definitely short lived!