Column: Don’t forget to check gift warranties

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By Callie N. Nelson

 Many of you either purchased gifts or received gifts that came with a warranty doing the holiday season. These may have included electronic items, small appliances and electronic toys. Now that you have these purchases, it’s now time to check out the warranties and service contracts that are available, especially if you did not do it before purchasing the item. No one wants a purchase that doesn’t work and one they can’t return when something goes wrong.

A warranty (or guarantee) describes the manufacturer’s or seller’s commitment to stand behind their products. It tells what will be done if a problem develops in a certain amount of time. It is as important to compare warranties as it is to compare style, price and other characteristics of products before you buy.

Businesses offer warranties as a promotional device to help consumers differentiate between competing products and help foster brand loyalty. From the management standpoint, warranties act as a corporate commitment to consumer satisfaction. It also limits the manufacturer’ or seller’s liability.

Most major consumer purchases come with written warranties although they are not legally required. If a product cost more than $15, a written warranty must be available for the consumer to read.

Since the protection offered by warranties varies greatly, comparing them is important. Some questions to help when comparing warranties:

  • What parts and problems are covered?
  • Are any expenses excluded from the coverage?
  • How long does the warranty last?
  • What will you have to do to get repairs?
  • What will the company do if the product fails?
  • Are there any conditions or limitations on the warranty?
  • Some warranty cover only personal, as opposed to business use.
  • Others may cover only first-time owners.

To prevent problems with your warranty, consider these precautions: the reputation of the company offering the warranty; read the warranty before you buy a product; save the sales slip and attach it to the warranty; read the instruction manual before using the product; soon after a purchase, try out the product’s features, controls, and parts, this way you can discover any defects or problems early; and use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Finally have some type of filing system. Keep all warranties, sales receipts and instructions books for products together, and where you can find them. Keep receipts for gifts that you purchase in a case a problem arises. Even if you did not purchase the item for yourself during the holidays, check to see that they warranties, etc. are filed where you can find them. Following these suggestions can save you time, frustrations and money in the future and allow you to enjoy your items and have peace of mind.

Callie N. Nelson is County Extension Coordinator based in Selma.