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Rethinking extended warranties...


Peter McCormick

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Used to be I wouldn't give a second thought to extended warranties on consumer products.  Just a way for retailers to pad their profit margins, I'd tell myself as I smirked and shook my head when offered them at the checkout counter.

 

I'm rethinking that in light of what I'm experiencing as a new low in consumer product quality.

 

I have railed on this before but I'm gonna do it again. The newest inhabitant of the boneyard alongside my garage is the electric pressure washer I bought from Northern Tool a couple of years ago.  I never used it much, just the occasional mower/tractor/lawn furniture cleaning and trying to blast away the bird poop left on the breezeway floor by the barn swallows attempting to roost overhead.  (BTW, Raid sprayed on the ledges and perches does a good job of keeping them away.)

 

One would think that light use would mean a product lasts longer by a factor of x.  Not so.  

 

I don't know whether it's the "New China Syndrome" or the "Walmart Effect" or whatever you want to call it, but the incessant need of manufacturers to drive the cost down in the name of competitiveness has begun to backfire, at least with me.  The pendulum has swung too far; it's off its rocker.

 

I'm going to start buying the extended warranties, saving the boxes and returning all this stuff when it -- inevitably it seems -- craps out.

 

I'm going to start buying the extended warranties, saving the boxes and returning all this stuff when it -- inevitably it seems -- craps out.

 

The irony in this is that I would GLADLY pay more if I could be assured of reasonable performance and product longevity for the money spent.  Somebody PLEASE design the $20 string of Christmas lights that will reliably light from year to year.  I'll pay more than $1.99 as long as I don't have to screw with them with frozen fingers every year.

 

Maybe we need a 3-star tiered manufactured products labeling system. Three stars for "costs more but will perform and last as you expect", two stars for "OK, but take your chances" and one star for "Looks great but isn't worth even the cheap price put on it".

 

My late father always said, "If you buy cheap, you buy twice." If he only knew.

 

 

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