Making the Absolute Most of Your PC Product Warranty

Know the Product Warranty Before You Buy

The more expensive and/or the more vital the equipment or package you buy, the more important it becomes for you to thoroughly read and understand the warranty that comes with the products you buy. Not only should you review these warranties with care, but you should also file them somewhere you can locate them again later.

In fact, before you ever buy a device or a whole computer system, you should really try to check warranty information to be sure that it covers the product in the way you want or need. If you’re purchasing at a store and you cannot find that information, wait to buy until you check with the manufacturer’s web site to see if you can determine the warranty information there. Many products listed online specify these conditions as part of the overall product profile on the manufacturer’s site. Many online stores provide warranty details under extended product information for each item.

Typical Warranty Coverage

With PC hardware especially, but many other types of consumer electronics as well, certain types of situations or coverage periods are usually spelled out under a warranty.

For example, you may see something like:

� -year general warranty
� 2-year support warranty
� 90 or 180 days free labor and parts replacement on defective components

What the last item means is that if there is a general failure of the product anytime during its warranty life, you can get it repaired or replaced.

However, the rest of the information means that you only have usually a maximum of 2 years of (probably free) support for the product and that after a specified number of days, months, or years, you will have to pay both the labor and parts for anything that does need replacement. That is why it is so important to know what the warranty details before you buy the product, so you can compare it to similar products that may feature better and/or longer coverage periods.

Also review any information provided on what terms may constitute grounds for voiding the warranty. An example of this is sometimes seen with a PC monitor or a TV where the packaging states there are no user serviceable components within and states that you should, under no circumstances, try to open the case which holds the individual components. Open the sucker anyway, and you’ve essentially voided the warranty.

Always remember two things as you review your product warranties:

� note specific dates
� understand that warranties are legal documents written by a manufacturer to protect its interests

Some warranties spell out information that actually conflicts with consumer laws in your state. But they aren’t going to tell you that (of course) and unless you’re very current on your state’s consumer laws, how will you know?

Should You Buy Extended Warranties/Service Contracts?

While some people swear by purchasing extended warrantees and service contracts on the products they buy, this may or not be useful to you when buying dirt cheap PC hardware or full systems. Companies no longer stand behind the products they manufacture as they once did, and you can consign yourself to the fifth circle of hell trying to get them to honor their agreement or even acknowledge that you are not a happy customer.

You must weigh the cost of the extended service and the exact benefits it affords you against the time, effort, and cost it would take you to repair or replace it. For cheaper items as well as items that likely have no more than a two year lifespan, it may not pay to buy them.

Unless the extended warranty offers you something you really feel you cannot or should not be without, don’t bother. All too often, these are just a waste of money.

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