Extended Warranties – A Troubling Concept

I’m suffering from a recurring condition:  Extended Warranty Resentment.  I’m offended at the notion of buying insurance that seems to bet on a brand new item dying too quickly. 

I don’t expect a plastic item that costs $1.00 to last forever, though some do, but extended warranties remind me of the planned obsolescence theory, and that’s not a pleasant thought.

Remember when we first learned about engineered extinction? When we went to buy our first new car, older and wiser friends gathered ’round to tell us that no matter what we paid for the thing, it was programmed to be obsolete at a certain point.  They said that no matter how well we maintained this shiny new car, it wasn’t going to last nearly as long as we thought.

So – we began to buy the extended coverage against all manner of mechanical ills that, it seems to me, we shouldn’t have to expect so soon.

Then the extended warranty sales pitch attached itself to our new appliances. No more do we pass down a refrigerator to the next generation. (Not that they’d want our old one, but it used to be an option.)  Today we buy a brand new one with bells and whistles, and at the same time, we buy an insurance policy. It’s a reminder that this beautiful new kitchen companion is likely to begin breaking down soon.  I take that very personally. 

I object to the notion that the manufacturer doesn’t warrant every product.  I expect when I buy something with movable parts that costs $50 or more that the manufacturer will have tested it under all kinds of conditions and barring some freak occurrence the manufacturer should give us a realistic estimate, based on their tests, of how long the movable parts will function.

I’d rather see pricing that reflects the realistic life of the product.  Adjust prices if we must, but do away with buying insurance on something that’s brand new.  

I can barely afford the insurance that pays somebody else when I expire.  I need to take better care of my own movable parts in order to get every possible premium discount.  

When we give in to sales pressure and purchase the extended warranty at the same time we buy the product, aren’t we taking on the maker’s responsibility?  No religious reference intended.

Ó Anita Garner 2008




3 thoughts on “Extended Warranties – A Troubling Concept”

  1. For those who “nah-dah comprende” the reality of “planned obsolescence” and the firm grasp that “if it ain’t broke yet – it was probably built in the ’50s” … I got 3 weed whackers and a pair of yard blowers stashed in a corner of my garage; taking up space where my two burned out hedge trimmers used to be.

    I guess that’s why,when I go to our local coffee shop and have one of their breakfast specials … I always try to scarf it down before the check arrives. The way things are goin’, you never know if the beacon warranty will expire before the eggs go belly-up. Actually, I should have had a clue last Sunday when I walked in and noticed the name listed on that award plaque behind the register: Congratulations Employee of the Month – Sal Monila.

    Hey, these days …I don’t even take the free mints.

  2. I don’t know. It seems to me that offering to sell you insurance is a pretty fair bet that the company making the offer is sure the item purchased won’t need fixing for a good, long while yet.

    On the other hand, now I find myself buying doo-dads and wondering if they won’t still be around for somebody else to deal with when I’m gone. THAT’S depressing!

    (What’d you buy?)

  3. Well here we are again. Half empty or half full? Recently I’ve needed to buy several items, all of which come with big strong extended-warranty sales pitches. I am in love with my new vacuum, and am pinning my hopes on it remaining healthy and happy for a long time to come.

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