Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a new weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As we ramp up the Christmas holiday shopping season, you’re likely to get pitches for extended warranties on electronics, appliances and other products. But the latest numbers from the December issue of Consumer Reports say extended warranties are an unnecessary waste of your money.
I’m known to be very outspoken about not liking extended warranties. Whenever I go to a store, I have salespeople who come up to me and tell me that I’m taking food out of their kids’ mouths because of the advice I give.
But it’s not just me. Consumer Reports finds the failure rate of cameras during the first four years of ownership is four percent. That’s 96 percent reliability! Why would you waste your money on an extended warranty when the odds are so overwhelmingly in your favor that your camera will work perfectly for so many years?
With flat-screen TVs, the failure rate is four percent during the first three years of ownership.
Vizio, once the king of off-brands, has a failure rate of three percent. Ditto for Sharp. Samsung, a premium brand, has only a four percent failure rate. Obviously, the failure rate all around is miniscule, whether you’re buying name brand or off brand.
Appliances like kitchen ranges and microwave ovens are nearly as reliable, except for ultra-expensive appliances brands. For example, with kitchen ranges, the Hot Point brand has a four percent failure rate during the first five years of ownership. Yet the high-end brand Jenn-Air has a failure rate right at 20 percent!
So clearly, extended warranties are a waste of money. Don’t be guilted into buying an extended warranty this holiday season when the numbers show it’s not necessary.
Ask Clark Howard a consumer question at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live Monday through Friday 1-4 p.m. on AM 750 and now 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.