Mon, Mar 11, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Laptop warranties often mislead, watchdog says

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Extended warranties for laptops might not be as comprehensive and straightforward as they seem, the Consumers’ Foundation said last week.

As many consumers experience a period of financial constraint, extended warranties are seen by some as necessary insurance for the pricy electronic devices, but their utility is questioned by many.

To address these doubts, the foundation decided to investigate the value of extended warranties, which are usually provided by either the manufacturer or retailer of a laptop.

A closer look at the warranties revealed that so-called global policies are not global, the foundation said.

“Most brand-name laptop companies guarantee global coverage, but actually only provide product maintenance in 10 percent of countries, mostly in North America, China and in other countries’ major cities,” the foundation said.

Also, since there are no regulations stating the length of warranties, clever marketing can make consumers think that their laptops are covered for longer than they really are, the foundation added.

For example, at least four laptop makers surveyed by the watchdog include a first-year warranty free of charge in their extended warranty package, which makes the extended warranty appear to cover a longer period than it actually does, the agency said.

The foundation also found that extended warranties often only cover partial maintenance after the second year. The warranty period depends on the part of the laptop that needs to be fixed, and accessories are often not included.

Consumers should be aware of the differences between warranties offered by original manufacturers and those offered by retailers, the group said.

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