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An Extended Warranty By Any Other Name

 by Patricia Lynn Henley   Posted on August 3 2013

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A number of electronics and appliance retailers are no longer selling extended warranties; now, they're hawking plans for "extended protection" or "extended service."

I can't help it. "Extended protection" makes me think of gangsters offering to keep me safe.

We need to clearly define our terms. A warranty is provided by the manufacturer and comes for free with the product. It usually only protects against manufacturing defects. Extended warranties are actually service contracts -- an agreement that the owner of a product pays a set fee and if the product breaks within a period of time, the product will be fixed. Maybe. Plans vary significantly in terms of what is and isn't covered.

Consumer Reports advises against extended warranties, saying that in most cases they tend to be a waste of money -- an opinion that's also been voiced by consumer agencies and media outlets like U.S. News & World Report.

Which may be why some retailers now sell protection plans instead of extended warranties. Whatever the name, it's important to understand the terms of both the manufacturer's warranty (which is free) and the proposed extended warranty/service agreement, which can cost $30-$500 or more, depending on the product and how long you are being "protected."

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