Consumer Reports Unveils Public Education Campaign Against Extended Warranties

Consumer Reports today unveiled its first-ever public education campaign urging shoppers against buying an Extended Warranty.  This holiday season, consumers are expected to spend a whopping $1.6 billion on extended warranties for laptops, flat-screen TVs, and other electronics, and appliances.  And Consumer Reports says that almost all of it will be money down the drain.

Consumer Reports' public education campaign kicks off on Tuesday, November 14th with a full-page advertisement in USA Today advising consumers that Extended Warranties have become big business for retailers - and a waste of money for consumers.

Consumer Reports survey findings show that products seldom break within the Extended Warranty window - typically three years - and that when electronics and appliances do break, the repair often costs about the same as the cost of the warranty.

"Based on our extensive testing and research, Consumer Reports has long advised against extended warranties," said Kim Kleman, deputy editorial director, Consumer Reports.  "A better idea is to buy a reliable brand."

Consumer Reports notes that there are two possible exceptions when it comes to Extended Warranties:  rear-projection microdisplay TVs, which Consumer Reports notes are expensive to repair and are three times more likely to need repairs that other types of TVs; and Apple computers, because they come with only 90 days of tech support and the additional warranty extends that.

For consumers who want absolute peace of mind and don't mind paying for an extended warranty that they'll probably never need, Consumer Reports offers the following advice:

  • Check your credit card - Plans, often found on gold and platinum cards, typically lengthen the original manufacturer's warranty by as much as one year.
  • Shop around - Extended Warranties vary in length and term. Consumer Reports advises that shoppers shouldn't pay more than 20 percent of the purchase price for the Extended Warranty and should negotiate the price and terms..
  • Beware of hidden "gotchas" - For heavy items such as large TVs or major appliances consumers should ask if in-home repair or pickup is included. For TVs, who reinstalls it? And if the product will be repaired, is there a lemon clause such that after a few repairs the product is replaced?