I’ve tried it all … coupon clipping, loyalty customer cards, thrift store shopping, targeting sales and even product sampling and surveys. But NOTHING has saved my family more money than warranties. A few years ago, I began to consistently register high priced items, home electronics, kitchen products, baby and child products. It didn’t take much time at all – just a few minutes here and there, but the payback has been worth the effort for our single-income household.
Manufacturer warranties are often misunderstood and underused. Most of the items we use daily are mass-produced. That means there’s a pretty good chance that something in your kitchen, some of your electronics and things you’ve purchased for your children are faulty or defective in some way. Warranties offer protections when something goes wrong and can carry some unexpected perks.
Warranty registration used to consist of mailing in forms. Now, most companies accept warranty registrations online with as little information as an email address. Some may require product numbers, serial numbers, dates of purchase and/or the name of the store where purchased. Others allow you to upload your receipt at the time of registry. No matter the process, most can be completed in less than 5 minutes. It’s worth it!
A Prepaid Warranty Can Save You Plenty, Too
I tend not to opt-in on warranty coverage that comes with a fee – you know the ones that are offered to you at the register at time of purchase. Stores tend to offer these types of warranties on popular brands that are made well and not likely to result in a claim for broken or damaged goods. Most of these warranties, often called “protection plans,” cost between $6 and $20 depending on the price of the item. However, it’s always a good idea if what you’re buying will be used often. For example, a blender gets plenty of use in our house and we tend to burn out blender motors every couple of years, so I usually purchase the extra store coverage if available.
Do You Like Bigger and Better?
A couple years ago, my husband came home with a sound bar he purchases as an “open box” item from a local electronics retailer. Within about a month we realized that the unit was flawed and did not work properly at all. I called the manufacturer and after a few conversations with technical support, it was determined that the unit needed to be replaced. However, the one we purchased was no longer in production, so the company mailed me the newer model, which was worth three times as much as what we paid originally!
On another occasion, a voluntary recall resulted in us getting a brand-new washing machine – the newer and bigger model of our original purchase. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten free merchandise in the mail and even class action settlement funds all because I filled out warranty information at the time of purchase. I’ve even gotten free car repairs, car tires and other services covered by warranties.
Warranties Expire, But Recalls Do Not
If a company issues a recall, it may not matter if it’s been well after the warranty expiration. Companies will often recall an entire product line going back to the first batch of production. If you’ve registered your items, you’re covered if this happens.
Tips and Tricks
- Make warranty coverage a part of your decision-making process and not an afterthought. When deciding between two similar products, it may be beneficial to purchase the one that offers the one-year warranty vs. six months.
- Register your products as soon as you get them home while you still have the receipts, original packaging and paperwork handy. This increases the likelihood that it’ll get done.
- Register ALL baby products and kid items (i.e. bicycles, car seats, cribs, bassinets, tablets, rockers, etc.). Recalls on these items are likely and often have safety implications.
- Keep a file folder/warranty box at home where you can quickly access original receipts/product information when you need it
- Don’t be shy about contacting the manufacturer if what you purchased has broken, isn’t working properly or has a defect. You may be asked to provide photo proof or be asked to mail the defective item back. Most companies prefer to replace the item with a new model rather than pay to have it fixed, which is a win-win for you!