Money Matters: Is it Worth it to Buy a Warranty for a TV?

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Are you thinking about buying a new TV in the near future?  Be prepared for the whole extended warranty pitch from the salesman.  But is it worth it?  This article will help you decide before you make that trip to the store.

Unless you are a hermit that hates electronics, you’ve probably experienced the following scenario at least once in your life.  You’re at a retail store, such as Best Buy, and you buy a new device.  It could be a TV, computer, gaming console, smartphone, radar detector, controller, keyboard, and the list goes on.  Now, it doesn’t even have to be that expensive of a device, but you will still get that same question:  “Would you like to purchase an extended warranty for this product?”

Immediately thoughts start running through your brain.  You start to wonder if you should pay that extra fee for some extra protection.  “What if it craps out after the factory warranty is up?  Will I be okay with buying a new one?”  Whether you are sure you want a warranty or not, your mind will ask such questions as you are checking out.  It’s a double-edged sword: spend the extra money and possibly get nothing out of that added protection, or don’t buy the warranty and replace the product once it breaks after a year.

So, what SHOULD you do?  You are about to find out, as we begin breaking down some reasons to buy a warranty versus reasons not to.  Just remember, in the end, it is you that makes the decision.  We are just trying to help you be a bit more informed during the process.  After all, would you rather trust someone trying to sell you something, or our advice?  We thought so.  Now let’s begin.

My factory warranty is limited, and this makes me think a warranty is a must.

Well, to be honest, you really aren’t wrong in saying that a factory warranty is limited.  You really can’t expect TOO much out of a factory warranty, as these manufacturers do want to make as much money as possible.  This wouldn’t be easy if they offered to repair products for very long periods of time, would it?

On average, you can expect a one-year warranty on parts for your new TV.  A one-year warranty on labor sometimes comes along for the ride, but you are most likely to get just three months of labor protection should something happen to your TV.  Why do they do this?  Because the parts aren’t the most expensive to replace – it’s the labor needed to perform the replacement.  Either way, one year of protection is not that great, but there is a little hack that you can use to get an even longer warranty at no extra charge.

 

Are you ready for it?  Credit cards.  Not all of them, but some credit cards will offer the perk of extended warranties on products when you use them.  The big name companies such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa all have programs like this in place.  Such a perk obviously won’t be available to every single cardholder out there, but you should investigate the possibility if you are in the market for a new credit card and want to get more out of it than just making simple purchases.

Besides certain credit cards from the aforementioned big companies, you may be able to get extended warranties for free from certain retailers as an added benefit for purchasing your television from them.  Just like with the credit cards, shop around and investigate for such benefits if you are really worried about extending your warranty.

Aren’t flat-panel televisions rather fragile?  They’re not as sturdy as older tube TVs and are easier to break.  I must get a warranty, right?

WRONG.  Of course, if you enjoy playing football in the house or have a ton of kids that are constantly running around like wild animals, then yes, your precious flat-panel could get destroyed.  That goes for any piece of electronic equipment, however.  Provided you don’t physically put it in harms way, your flat screen should work just fine and offer reliable performance.

If you want some stats to back up the reliability of such TVs, Consumer Reports noted that over approximately the last four years, just 4.6 percent of plasma TVs and 4.3 percent of LCDs from major manufacturers required repair.  If you want to include lesser brands in the equation, the repair percentage extended to about 6 percent total.  That’s still not too shabby at all.

So, on average, 6 out of 100 modern TVs require repair.  Are you willing to take your chances and skip out on that extended warranty?  The odds are stacked in your favor.

With all of that being said, what if problems do occur?  Believe it or not, most major issues with new TVs come about within the first 30 days that they are in your possession.  It’s definitely not a good first impression to make on a consumer, but the bright side is that you can usually return such defective TVs to the retailer you purchased them from without much trouble.

Even if you pass that magical 30 day mark and no longer have protection from the retailer, that is when your factory warranty can come in to save the day.  With a year of protection on average from the factory, you should be good to go.

Now the doubt starts to creep into your mind as you recount reviews you’ve read online.  Or maybe you have a close friend or family member who had a new TV go defunct within a short period of time.  Like most things in life, accidents happen.  You may be the unlucky one to get a defective TV that has more propensity to malfunction than the next one off the assembly line.  Call it bad luck.  If you just look at the statistics on average, such as those mentioned earlier from Consumer Reports, your TV should last just fine without the need for an extended warranty.

 

My salesman offered me the extended warranty and I was surprised by how inexpensive it was.  Why not buy it?

Yes, you could say that extended warranties are not THAT expensive when compared to the past.  But, how cheap are they?  Cheap compared to buying a completely new TV?  Definitely.  Cheap compared to not buying an extended warranty at all?  Of course not.

Think about it from a business perspective.  These warranty companies aren’t in business out of the goodness of their heart.  They aren’t on this planet with the sole purpose of rescuing your downtrodden TV and reviving your dead entertainment center.  They want PROFIT.  They want to make money off the warranties they sell.  If TVs were in fact malfunctioning left and right, those warranties would cost a lot more, wouldn’t they?  The fact that they are inexpensive should tell you something – new TVs are not breaking that much, so do you really need this extra protection?

If I buy this cheap extended warranty, I’m winning in the end, because it will cover ANY problem I may have with my TV, right?

WRONG again.  Just take a look at any warranty.  Read the paperwork.  There’s plenty of fine print to look at, and that’s not by accident.  You could be buying an extended warranty thinking that it offers 100 percent protection, but it might not.  It could just cover minor defects and ignore major ones that really cost a lot in terms of parts and labor.  Remember, these retailers and warranty companies want to profit off of you, so they’ll do whatever they can to get that warranty sold.  Don’t be surprised if you pay for one only to find out that it doesn’t cover everything you need.

To buy or not to buy?

Once again, the final decision of whether or not to buy a warranty for a TV is up to you.  Nobody is putting a gun up to your head to do it, although some pushy salesman may seem that desperate.  Just look at the extended warranty as a form of insurance.  It’s not a necessity, and the company selling it to you has hedged their bets thinking that you will never have to actually use it.

The odds are in your favor to stick with the basic warranty that comes with the TV.  You’ll have that 30 day or longer window to return it to the store should something happen, and then you’ll have more protection up to a year (possibly longer) from the factory.  Since most defects will show themselves within the first year of use, chances are that you will find out if you got a bad apple from the assembly line rather quickly.  Plus, as mentioned before, the TVs getting made nowadays are pretty reliable with only a very small percentage needing repair.

Want another reason to skip out on buying a warranty for that new TV?  If you’ve shopped for TVs lately, you have probably noticed something.  The prices keep dropping more and more every year.  When plasma TVs first came out some could cost as much as a car!  Now they are much less and are actually quite affordable.  So, you could take your chances to avoid the warranty, and even if you did need a brand new TV due to some horrible luck, you wouldn’t be THAT much out of pocket in the end.  Besides, you could use the money you saved by skipping the warranty on another nice addition to your entertainment center, such as a Blu-ray player or some speakers!

Written on 6/22/2013 by Enrique Stone.

Photo Credit: Chris

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