Like many people I know, sometimes I just can’t be bothered reading the terms and conditions that are included with virtually every website, product and service that I sign up for. The thought just bores me silly. Delving into the lawyer speak, weasel words and down-right obfuscating terminology is not my idea of leisure time. Given I am supposed to go through these T&Cs, I should be paid for the time it takes by the company spruiking the product – at a price determined by how stupidly worded they are.
Last year I made an effort to go through a set of T&Cs at my own expense of time and brain power. We received an extended warranty offer for a dishwasher we purchased at CHOICE. This was unusual in a couple of ways: a) usually these are spruiked by the retailer for a commission, and b) getting a letter offering an extended warranty actually put all of its T&Cs in front of me for the first time, rather than a salesperson's dubious promises of what the warranty would do.
I realise these T&Cs are available on websites to look over, but honestly, who inflicts that on themselves?
In this particular case, the manufacturer offered the extended warranty themselves and the first thing that popped out was the title – "Enjoy 4 years peace of mind with your extended warranty." I read a little further and saw it was $179 (I could choose to spread the fee over 10 months as a kindly offer to "ease the household budget"). As I read further still, I realised the warranty was actually for two years. They would “happily” extended this by an additional two years for a mere $179 on top of the enormous purchase price you initially pay for a premium product.
After I read the marketing messages, I turned it over and found the full A4 page of tiny font T&Cs. I still thought that maybe this was a good deal – after all, it was from a fairly highly priced brand.
But it wasn't a good deal. With all the exceptions that they detailed on the T&Cs, essentially I would be covered for a very narrow set of conditions - and there were costs that the extended warranty wouldn't cover, including;
- removal and reinstallation,
- costs while the product needed repairing (thank god it’s not a fridge),
- and the inevitable ‘acts of god’.
A list of 17 exclusions in total. Sometimes I think manufacturers aren’t particularly confident in their product.
The point is, if you feel like you need an extended warranty, maybe you shouldn’t be buying something you don’t have the confidence in to last the distance. You're already covered by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and there are no specific limits on how long something should last, so even when the manufacturer warranty expires you may still be covered. If I ever feel like I’m being pressured by a salesperson to purchase an extended warranty, perhaps I’ll just come back with a snappy rejoinder about their confidence in the product they are selling. In the meantime, you can have confidence in the fact that Australians are already covered by the ACL.
Have you ever taken out an extended warranty? Have you ever read the terms and conditions attached? Do you know that there are regulations any extended warranty need to follow?