Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The other day, my wife went to a specialty electronics retailer to get some equipment that I use when I broadcast the show from my home. As she’s checking out, the salesman asks her how long of a term of extended warranty she wanted on the equipment. (Not if she wants one, but what length of term she wants!)
The salesperson continued, “Clark Howard buys extended warranties. He came in recently and bought a pair of headphones and took the warranty on them.” So my wife said, “Oh, he did, huh?”
Next the man wanted to show her a bogus bill of sale for me reflecting a purchased extended warranty. The guy had no idea he was speaking to my wife! I really wish she would have asked to see it, but she declined and the whole issue was dropped.
My position on extended warranties remains the same. I don’t like them and I don’t buy them at any store.
Never buy an extended warranty on appliances or electronics. Salespeople will tell you that an extended warranty “protects your investment.” But a TV, a washer or a DVD player is not an investment.
When it comes to real estate, I only recommend that sellers consider home warranties as a way to provide confidence on paper about the house to a potential buyer.
The only meaningful exception to my extended warranty rule is on a car. Only consider a warranty if you know you don’t have enough savings to pay for a major component of a car breaking. (If you do have enough saved, don’t buy that warranty.) And then I only suggest the car manufacturer’s own warranty; never buy a third-party auto warranty.
Remember, anytime anybody at any retail store tells you I buy warranties on their products, just know that they’re lying!
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. You can also listen to his radio show live 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.