Although they are not required by law, written warranties come with most major purchases. If a warranty is provided, federal law requires that it be made available so you can read it before you buy. These tips can help you secure adequate protections.
1. Understand the protection
Know exactly what the company will do if the product fails, and ask about conditions that could void your coverage. Be alert for potentially expensive or inconvenient conditions, such as a requirement that you return a heavy item in its original carton.
2. Oral promises aren't enough
If a salesperson makes a promise, be sure to get it in writing.
3. Know the difference between a service contract and a warranty
Even though they often are called "extended warranties," service contracts are not warranties. Like warranties, service contracts cover repair or maintenance for a certain period of time. However, warranties are included in the price of the product. Service contracts cost extra.
4. Decide what you need
Before you pay for a service contract, consider whether the warranty already covers the repairs you would get and whether you're likely to need the additional coverage.
5. Investigate the implied warranties
Unless the product is marked "as is" or the seller indicates in writing that no warranty will be provided, virtually every purchase you make is covered by an implied warranty. If problems arise that are not covered by the written warranty, look into the protection given by your implied warranty under state law.
6. Save your receipts
Keep them on file with your warranties. You may need the receipt to document the date of purchase or to prove you are the original owner in the case of non-transferable warranty.
7. Don't shirk maintenance
Use the product according to the manufacturer's instructions. Abuse or misuse may void your warranty coverage.
8. Know how to handle disputes
If you have problems getting warranty services, try to resolve the problem with the retailer. If that isn't possible, write to the manufacturer. Send all letters by certified mail, return receipt requested and keep copies.
9. Research dispute resolution programs
Your warranty may require dispute-resolution procedures before you can go to court. If dispute resolutions fails, you can go to court. If dispute resolution fails, you can try going to small-claims court or pursing a full-fledged lawsuit.
10. Know where to turn
To file a complaint against a company or receive information about your rights, contact the Better Business Bureau at (800) 955-5100 and the Federal Trade Commission at (877) FTC-HELP.