(Really) Limited Warranties

Thursday, January 5, 2006

In an effort to maintain profit margins, appliance manufacturers of so-called "white goods" -- think refrigerators, dishwashers, washer-dryer combos, etc. -- have quietly begun curbing the generosity of their warranty programs. Companies such as Whirlpool and General Electric, which typically have offered long-term coverage of parts and labor for two to five years, will now offer standard limited warranties that expire after one year, according to Home Furnishings News, a trade magazine for the industry.

The biggest beneficiary of the change may be retailers, whose dogged efforts to get customers to buy their own extended warranties are often met with skepticism and a firm thanks-but-no-thanks. Customers will no doubt reconsider that reflexive rejection. At the very least, consumers should go into purchases knowing exactly what their appliance manufacturer offers in terms of a warranty, and not assume that the old rules still apply. If the retailer's extended warranty offer seems reasonable, it may finally be time to take advantage of it.

Jeff Turrentine

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