Some offer good protection at a fair price. Others have conditions and exclusions that make them almost worthless.
Getting a written warranty means that the manufacturer or seller of the product is promising to make repairs within the warranty period. For example, if you buy a computer that comes with a one-year warranty, the seller is promising that they will fix the things covered by the warranty if the computer fails within one year.
Most new products, such as cars, televisions, computers, and appliances are sold with written warranties. The makers of products provide most written warranties, but some retail sellers provide them too.
Look before you buy
When shopping for new products, ask to see the warranty. The seller must let you read it before you buy. Ask questions if you don’t understand the warranty or what it covers.
A written warranty must tell you how long the warranty lasts, what parts are covered, if the warranty can be transferred to another person if you sell the product, and what you have to do to get service.
If a product stops working during the warranty period, the company that issued the warranty has the option of repairing the product, replacing it, or refunding your money within 30 days.
If they do not have repair facilities in California, you can return the product to any store that sells that product. They must repair it, replace it, or refund your money within 30 days.
You must return the product for repair, unless the size or weight of the product makes that impractical. You do not have to return installed products like a dishwasher. In these cases, the 30-day period to repair the product begins when you notify the company of the problem.
During repairs, your warranty is automatically extended for the number of days that you don’t have the product, and your warranty will not expire until the problem is fixed. It is important to keep receipts showing how long the item was out for repair in case of future warranty problems beyond the original warranty period.
Not all warranties are in writing. A spoken promise made about a product can also be a warranty and the seller has to honor his promises if the product fails. For example, if a used car dealer tells you that a particular vehicle is in, “excellent condition,” but the engine fails right away, the dealer may be responsible for fixing it.
If a seller knows that you are buying a product for a specific purpose, and they sell it to you, they may be responsible if the product fails to do what you bought it for. For example, if you tell the salesperson you need paint for rusty outdoor furniture, the paint they sell you must be appropriate for that use. If it is not, the store is responsible.
Even though your new product comes with a warranty from the manufacturer, the store may try to sell you an extended warranty. You will have to decide if the extra protection, if any, is worth it. To figure out if it’s worth the extra cost, you will need to know what the manufacturer’s warranty covers and what additional protection is offered by the extended warranty.
Some things to consider:
- What does the extended warranty offer that the manufacturers warranty doesn’t? Is the extra coverage worth the price?
- When does the extended warranty begin? If the product has a two-year warranty and the extended warranty is three years, does the extended warranty start on the date of purchase or when the original warranty expires?
- What is the price of the extended warranty compared to the replacement cost of the product?
- Who issues the extended warranty? Is it the store, the manufacturer or a third party? What if they go out of business?
County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: Dec. 1, 2013