Whether it’s a new washing machine or set of headphones, we all hope our products will last a good amount of time. But you never know when you might need a repair or replacement and if something happens to a product you’ve bought – especially if it was expensive – you might want it sorted out.
Extended warranties are one way of getting extra protection for a new product in addition to the standard guarantee that comes with the purchase. However, they are not the best option for everyone - and how can you know if an extended warranty is worth the cost?
This blog explains what to consider when thinking about whether or not to buy an extended warranty and how we at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are working to ensure you can find the right deal for you.
What is an extended warranty?
Extended warranties provide longer protection for products over and above the standard guarantee – covering repair and replacement if the product breaks down. They may also cover against other risks such as accidental damage, loss or theft.
The main difference between the standard guarantee and extended warranties is time: standard guarantees are typically one or two years long, whereas an extended warranty can last between three to five years.
Whether or not you buy an extended warranty, you are still entitled to your statutory rights, which may include a repair or replacement if something is faulty. So, if the product breaks down within the first six months, the company should deal with this, regardless of the warranty option you chose.
If you buy an extended warranty for a domestic electrical product, such as a fridge or a TV, from the retailer where you purchased the product, you have extra rights. See our extended warranties guidance to find out more about what suppliers must do when selling extended warranties for these products.
What to consider before deciding to buy an extended warranty:
- Extended warranties are optional – remember your statutory rights, and that products typically come with a manufacturer’s guarantee which might be enough for your needs.
- Don’t feel pressured to make a decision at the time you buy the product – shop around to find the best deal for you, for example by using the extended warranties comparison site.
- You might already be covered – your home contents insurance provider can advise what you are covered for. Or check with your bank, as some bank accounts also cover gadgets.
- There might be better options out there – for example; if you have lots of electrical items it might be better for you to buy multiple item insurance, which could cover a range of your items.
Helping you find the best option
At the CMA, we’ve had concerns for some time that customers are buying electrical goods from retailers along with an extended warranty, without looking for potentially cheaper or better extended warranty options elsewhere.
That’s why we’ve put in place measures that legally require retailers who sell domestic electrical goods and extended warranties to include a link to the extended warranties comparison site on their own website. This prompts customers to shop around for extended warranty options that might be better suited to them.
We’ve recently written to Argos after finding that they weren’t complying with these requirements. As result of our intervention, Argos are now taking measures to put things right and ensure that something like this doesn’t happen in future.
Read our news story for more about the action we took, and the changes Argos are making.
What to do if you think you’ve been mis-sold an extended warranty
If you think you might have been pressured into buying an extended warranty when it wasn’t right or if – having read the above – you think you have been given the wrong information about an extended warranty you bought, there are steps you can take.
For example, you might have been told that an extended warranty covers cosmetic damage (which is damage that affects how the product looks, but not how it works) when it doesn’t.
If you don't think they've dealt with it properly, find out who to contact for consumer protection advice.