Confusion arises when warranties overlap

May 18 2010 by Ellen Roseman

Many stores offer extended warranties for the products they sell. You may assume that the retailer’s extended warranty kicks in after the manufacturer’s warranty is over.

Not so fast. Your extended warranty can overlap the manufacturer’s warranty for the first year or two.

Why would retailers stack two warranties on top of each other? And why don’t they make it crystal clear when they do that?

See Mark’s lament below about a treadmill he bought from Fitness One, hoping to be protected against damage for five years. But when the treadmill needs repairs, he learned that the retailer’s coverage lasted a year less than he thought it would.

Yes, the retailer’s warranty may be more generous than the manufacturer’s warranty. For example, it may let you drop off defective products at the store, instead of packaging them at your expense and sending them by mail to the manufacturer.

However, I believe that retailers must make customers aware of the overlapping. This means posting written warnings on paperwork and making sure that staff gives verbal warnings as well. Misunderstandings can be costly.

8 comments

  1. Mark

    May 18 2010

    Have you received any complaints about Fitness Depot’s five-year extended waranties for sports equipment?

    The reason I ask is that I purchased a Trimline 325 Folding Treadmill in June 2004. It comes with a manufacturer’s two-year warranty on parts and one year on labour.

    I also bought from Fitness Depot a five-year extended warranty for $169.95.

    Unfortunately, my treadmill ceased to function properly last month.

    When I phoned Fitness Depot, I was told that my warranty had expired. When I asked why, I was told that the warranty did not begin when the manufacturer’s warranty expired, but when the treadmill was purchased.

    I should have been told when I purchased the extended warranty, but I was not told about this.

    When I called Fitness Depot’s head office, I was told the same thing. I asked to speak to the manager of customer relations, but was told he was not in and he would say the same thing.

    I asked for his number but was refused, even though I was polite but firm. This says something about Fitness Depot’s customer service.

    Why would Fitness Depot call this a five-year warranty — which is cited on my invoice — when in fact it is at best a four-year extended warranty on labour or a three-year exended warranty on parts, after the manufacturer’s warranty is over?

    Had I been aware of this, I would not have purchased such a limited warranty.

    I expected a five-year extended warranty and I consider this misleading.

    I alled Nautilus, the manufacturer that is responsible for Trimline tradmills. I was told that although Fitness Depot is responsible for extended warranties, Nautilus’ understanding was that the extended warranty came into force after the manufacturer’s warranty expired.

    Now I am faced with some $800 in repair costs, which makes this all the more concerning.

    Had I been covered by what I expected of a five-year extended warranty, then I would not be forced to shoulder such additional costs.

  2. Cynthia

    May 18 2010

    The only reason they offer these warranties is they are hedging their $$$ that you won’t make a claim. Total cash cow.

    Good example is extended warranties for computers. A 3 year extended warranty is really only good for 2 years. They say that the manufacturer covers the 1st year, thus their 3 year warranty covers year 2 and year 3.

    I will never buy one.

  3. bylo

    May 18 2010

    Some facts of (warranty) life:

    (a) Extended warranties make more profit for retailers than the item they’re purchased with. That’s why their salespeople push warranties so hard.

    (b) Virtually all extended warranties are touted with a period that overlaps the manufacturer’s warranty. So a “5 year” extended warranty for an item that carries a manufacturer’s 3-year warranty only provides 2 years of extension. This practice is misleading at best (and borders on fraud at worst).

    (c) Most premium credit cards have (quoting from TD) “Extended Warranty Protection… If the item comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, you may be entitled to double the warranty period by up to 12 additional months.”

    (d) Most manufacturers have now stopped providing more than 1 year warranty with the product sale in order to gouge their customers on extended warranties.

    Ellen, ask an appliance manufacturer why, if their products are so reliable, they’ve reduced their standard warranty to 1 year from the 5 or even 10 years they provided in the past.

    Followup question: If their products are so reliable, then why are their extended warranties so expensive, e.g. up to 10% of product cost per year?

  4. Marissa- eToro Forex

    May 19 2010

    I agree, it should be made clear to customers regarding warranties. I recently experienced this with a computer I had bought. The warranties were overlapping and I wasn’t aware of what was covered and what wasn’t. It can be very frustrating if the customers are not made aware upfront.

  5. Zach

    Jun 30 2010

    Well, first of all let me say that companies are in business to make money. Even with the best products, the longer you have it, the more likely something will go wrong. Companies aren’t just going to repair your old stuff out of good will. Anyone who did would be out of business before they started.

    That being said, there are companies that give really good plans because they invest in their customers for repeat business.

    And also, just let me say that some manufacturers do make products that last forever. They have commercial lines. And you can have one for only $9000. :p

    There’s a reason residential equipment is actually affordable. And the Fitness Depot service isn’t so much an extended warranty as much as an in-home service plan.

    I’ll break it down.

    You buy a $1,500 treadmill that has 3 years parts and one year labor and then you get a 5 year Fitness Depot Blue Chip in-home service plan for $148. That’s 8 cents a day.

    Now a year and a half has gone by and something goes out on your treadmill. If you didn’t get the Blue Chip, you’re still in the manufacturer’s parts warranty so you don’t have to pay for the part, but you’re out of labor so immediately you have to pay a $60 call out fee just to get a technician to come out to look at your problem.

    From there, you pay him on average $90 an hour for his time. So let’s say it was a small fix that took him an hour. You just paid $150, 2 bucks more than your service plan.

    If after 3 years the same thing happens, then you have to pay that cost, in ADDITION to the part.

    Now you bought the 5 year Blue Chip. All you do is call Fitness Depot any time in that 5 years and they do everything absolutely free with 100% parts and labor coverage. In addition to that, if the same thing goes wrong 3 times, they just replace your entire unit. No need to bring anything in because they come right to you.

    On top of that, the warranty is transferable, so if you sell the treadmill to someone else after 3 years, they still have 2 years of blue chip left on it. Manufacturers’ warranties only apply to the first purchaser.

    And at the end of everything, if you don’t end up using the Blue Chip at all by the time it runs out, you get half your money back in a Fitness Depot Credit to put toward any other fitness equipment you need.

    They don’t stack because they aren’t the same and the Blue Chip gives you so many other benefits. The manufacturer gives you a warranty, and Fitness Depot sells you a total service plan.

    There are “extended warranties” out there, and some of those, especially on electronics, tend to be bull, but don’t just blanket say “I’ll never get one.” That attitude will end up screwing you in the long run.

    Just make sure you know what you’re buying, ask questions, and make sure you understand.

    It’s no one’s fault but your own if you just assumed and bought without getting all the information.

  6. common sense

    Oct 11 2010

    You are all morons, especially Mark.

    If you read the terms and conditions of your BlueChip warranty you will see that it clearly states that the warranty compliments the manufacturers warranty and starts at the date of the original sale.

    It is not Fitness Depot’s fault that you are to stupid to read the contract that was givin’ to you.

    If you want to complain to anybody about this issue, I suggest contacting your parents and asking them if it’s genes that made you so stupid or if it was improper upbringings.

    I feel confident that you won’t read this though since we already know that you don’t read the words put in front of you.

    Good luck with life because from what I can tell, you have trouble with daily tasks.

  7. traducteur anglais

    May 13 2011

    Nowadays, producers do not care about waranty or customer liability.

    They don’t want to fix your product. They prefer you to buy a new one.

    This is sad but that is how business goes.

  8. bebop

    Sep 8 2011

    Do firms care about having a truhtly relationship with their customer?
    I’m afraid they do not…sadly