Read the Warranty

Manufacturer Warranties:  Reading Them Before You Purchase Can Save You.

The other day I spoke with a neighbor that was unhappy because of a problem he had with a major purchase for his home.  As he explained his dissatisfaction, I asked to read his copy of the manufacturer’s material warranty.  Upon opening the warranty card, the first thing that caught my eye was the familiar phrase, “Lifetime Warranty” typed in enormous boldface letters.  Reading further, I noticed that either I had aged 20 years in a matter of seconds or the warranty was written on microfiche.  The small type indicated that I was now reading the substance of the warranty.

After further review, I noticed that my neighbor’s discrepancy was specifically excluded from the warranty coverage and I informed him.  As I suspected, he then told me that the sales representative stated that this product was the best product on the market and that it had a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty.  I asked my neighbor if he had read the warranty before purchasing this product.  He proceeded to tell me that he didn’t read the warranty because the product was made by a major manufacturer and that he trusted that company.  As I continued reading the warranty, I found that it contained numerous exclusions and limitations that in my opinion were ridiculous!  The warranty wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on and was obviously designed to protect the manufacturer not the consumer.  I read each of the exclusions to him out loud and then asked him:  Since we now know what isn’t covered under the warranty, can you tell me what is covered by this warranty that your homeowners insurance won’t cover?    His reply was, “nothing” and this is when he started to feel sick to his stomach.


The sad truth to the above reality, is that this same scenario happens to consumers all of the time.  My neighbor did learn several things from his unfortunate incident:  He now knows that the manufacturer printed the warranty exclusions in small print to be less noticeable when read.  He also learned that just because a product is made by a reputable company it doesn’t necessarily guarantee the product’s quality or it’s coverage with a comprehensive warranty.  Last, he learned to always read the entire warranty before he decides to purchase a product, regardless of what a salesperson says about the warranty.

Admittedly, reading a warranty is not as exciting as reading a murder mystery novel but, I can say that the information I have listed below, has helped me to make major purchasing decisions with ease, confidence, and save me money.  Think of the warranty as the textbook required for an open book test.  If you spend a few minutes reading your text, you will pass with flying colors.  If you choose instead to just save your time, don’t be upset if you end up making an unwise investment.  And if the latter is chosen, odds are you will soon be spending more time purchasing the same project again.  In the end, how much time did you save?

Here are the conditions I try meet and questions I try get answered when reading a warranty:

1. The company backing the warranty is financially stable.  – A warranty is only as good as the company behind it and if that company is gone, so is the warranty.

2.  The warranty is not an extended warranty.  – If the product
performs as advertised, it won’t need an extended warranty.

3. The answers to the following questions are clearly spelled out in the warranty:  – Who is backing the warranty?  What does the warranty cover?  How long does the coverage last?  What co

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