Shopping on Black Friday? Angie’s List on How to Know if You Need that Extended Warranty

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Angie's List gives tips to Black Friday shoppers about how to know when to say yes to the sales pitch for an extended product warranty -- and when to pocket your savings.

“Don’t offset your savings by giving into impulse buys for extended warranties you may never use,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks.

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are still a week away but the leaks and early bird offerings are already coming out of the woodwork.

Angie’s List says to go ahead and reap the savings, but be wary of high-pressure sales to add an extended warranty to that low-priced gadget. And never buy an extended warranty without reading the fine print.

“Everyone likes to save money, and there are lots of great opportunities out there for bargain shoppers,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “But be careful that you don’t offset your savings by giving into impulse buys for extended warranties you may never use.”

In some cases, though, Angie’s List members report being pleased with extended warranties – most often for laptop computers and electronics that get heavy use, Hicks said.

“If your kids play hard and often with video game systems, you may find warranties are a good investment,” Hicks said. “Or, if you are prone to self-inflicted damage to your cell phone or other portable devices, you might actually need one.”

You probably don’t need an extended warranty for your gadget if:

1.    You always have the have the latest version of whatever you’re thinking of buying. You’ll likely get the next upgrade before you need a repair.
2.    You’re paying with a credit card. Review your service contract. You may already have warranty protection through the card.
3.    Your homeowners’ insurance will cover you.
4.    You’re buying a product with high reliability ratings. The basic warranty is likely all you need.

Extended Warranty 101

  •     Read the fine print: Take the time to understand the coverage. Don’t just listen to the sales person’s highlights.

o    For example, will your warranty cover you if you accidentally break or lose the item? Or does it only cover manufacturing defects?
o    Make sure the effective date of your extended warranty doesn’t start until AFTER the manufacturer’s warranty expires.

  •     If you’re being pressured to buy an extended warranty at the time of purchase, walk away. You can always buy one later, and you’ll likely be happier if you get it from a third party rather than a pushy salesperson – and sometimes you can on the cost if you buy from a third party company.
  •     Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Warranties are great revenue producers for stores. Often, store officials will reduce your product price or the warranty price if you negotiate.

Angie’s List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 550 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. More than 1.5 million paid households use Angie’s List to gain unlimited access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine, and the Angie’s List complaint resolution service.

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Cheryl Reed