Experts advise against buying extended warranties

Now that all your Christmas shopping is finally done and dusted, it is almost time to turn your attention to the Boxing Day sales (once that actual Christmas business is out of the way), but there is one thing you should avoid buying according to the experts – extended warranties.

Explaining your consumer rights in the lead-up to the big sales, consumer group CHOICE has explained that extended warranties are a “waste of money”.

A national CHOICE survey of 1112 people found that nearly one in five (18 per cent) Australians are still buying extended warranties even when they offer nothing more than your legal rights.

Consumer rights expert from CHOICE Julia Steward said that people should not “waste their money on an extended warranty”.

“Many extended warranties largely replicate or underplay your existing rights under the Australian Consumer Law,” Ms Steward said. “They’re a sales trick to squeeze more money out of you that ignore your existing rights under the law.

“If someone tries to push an extended warranty on you, ask them ‘what does this give me beyond the Australian Consumer Law’?

“Remember, your rights are often longer and more comprehensive than what you receive from a warranty. Your rights aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Under the law, the products you buy should be eligible for refund, replacement or repair depending on the expected lifespan of the product. Not what the company says the warranty is,” Ms Steward explained.

What to do if something goes wrong
1. Contact the retailer with proof of purchase. Explain the issue clearly and ask for your preferred solution (a refund, replacement or repair).

“Provide your proof of purchase and be clear about what you want. Be firm, but polite in asking for your refund, repair or replacement,” Ms Steward explained.

2. Escalate. If you are unhappy with the response, write a formal complaint to the business articulating your rights under the Australian Consumer Law and what you expect.

“Using the language of the Australian Consumer Law in a direct and formal way can help you assert your rights,” Ms Steward said.

“Articulate how you believe the law has been breached, put it in writing and escalate to someone higher.”

3. Take it further. If a retailer is not following the Australian Consumer Law, your local consumer affairs or fair trading body can sometimes mediate or help you with your next options.

“Consumer affairs or fair trading in your state or territory are a good next step if you’re unhappy with the retailer’s response,” Ms Steward said.

“It’s important to tell these bodies, so they can act if there’s a broader issue at play.”

4. Contact your bank. Consider asking for a debit or credit card chargeback, as in some circumstances your bank may refund you.

What are you looking to buy at the Boxing Day sales this year? Have you ever purchased an extended warranty? Did you know that they were a waste of money?

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Written by Ben

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