What Is The Difference Between A Warranty And An Extended Service Plan?

By: Jeff Hatch

September 07, 2016

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive and one that causes a lot of confusion among customers. Simply put, a warranty is an agreement to make any repairs or replace defective parts during a specified period of time upon purchase – a 90-day warranty, for example. It is provided by the manufacturer or dealer and included in the purchase price of a product. By contrast, a service contract/plan is a separate agreement designed to provide protection after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.  
 
Since a manufacturer’s warranty is only good for a limited time, having additional coverage for important purchases makes a lot of sense. An extended service plan (or vehicle service contract) is a popular choice among customers who want extended coverage on everything from consumer electronics, automobiles, home appliances, boats, power tools and other items they truly value or see as an important long-term investment. For instance, a cash-strapped college student who can’t afford to be without a laptop computer for schoolwork would be smart to invest in a service plan. 
 
A service contract also offers additional benefits that generally aren’t covered under the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty. If you bought a new vehicle, chances are your warranty only covers defects and issues that came about during the design and manufacturing process. With a service contract, you can get supplemental coverage for important systems like the transmission and suspension, and ancillary product protection that covers paint, dent, fabric and windshield repair. 
 
In addition to product and purchase protection, service contracts offer consumers convenience and peace of mind. There have been several articles as of late that all list this as one of the main reasons that people feel that a service contract is well worth the added expense. Should something go wrong with your purchase, you’ll receive immediate assistance. Plus, a service contract can be purchased for just a fraction of what you would normally pay for service repair or, in worst-case scenarios, an entirely new item. 
 
If you do decide that you are interested in extended protection, the best rule of thumb is to always make sure that you carefully compare the service contract with the manufacturer's warranty. Also, consider: 1) the cost of the service contract, 2) the types of coverage it offers, 3) the length of time covered, and 4) how you expect to use your purchase. And if you have any concerns regarding your service agreement or need help with a specific type of coverage, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll be more than happy to help.
 
Visit our website to view more frequently asked questions from our consumers. Or call us at 800.833.8801.

Filed Under: contract, plan, product, service, vehicle, Warrantech, warranty

When Is An Extended Service Plan Worth The Investment?

By: Jeff Hatch

December 09, 2015

You did it. You finally worked up the gumption to buy the one product you’ve debated purchasing for months. Whether it is a brand new car, technologically advanced appliance or the latest electronic gadget, you’ve made it through second guesses, financial calculations and a lengthy checkout line to finally make your purchase. Relieved and excited, you smile as the sales associate rings up your coveted item. 

As you daydream about how wonderful life will be with your new “toy,” you realize the sales associate asked you a question. You beg their pardon.

“I asked what sort of protection plan you’d like. We have a number of extended warranty options,” the associate replies.

Your smile fades. Apparently the decision making isn’t quite over after all.

*****

Does this sound familiar? For many people, the question of whether or not to purchase an extended warranty (more appropriately referred to as an extended service plan, or ESP)* is a tough one, and may not be a decision they are prepared to make. When is such a purchase advisable? Will it save money, or just add cost to a purchase? The answers to these questions depend upon a number of factors specific to each purchase. Consider the following before you reach the point-of-sale in the future, and you may save time and avoid stress:

*NOTE: While many store associates and consumers consider the purchase to be an extended warranty, this is often not the case. Many extended plans are not truly adding on to the original manufacturer’s warranty, but rather, extend the post-warranty service options and are therefore more appropriately referred to as an extended service plan, or ESP.

What is the product and who produced it?

Reputation is always an important consideration when attempting to predict the longevity of a product. Some types of items are statistically more likely than others to need repairs in their first few years of use. According to Consumer Reports, for example, computers, self-powered lawn mowers and certain refrigerator designs top the list of items most likely to fail. 

It is important, also, to consider whether the product you’re buying incorporates cutting-edge technology or is a first-generation product. With less of these products existing in the marketplace, there is a higher likelihood of glitches or problems that may not have been discovered during testing. Also, factor in what company created the product you are purchasing. Do they have a history of releasing products before the “bugs” have been worked out?

How much does the product cost and how tough would it be to replace?

If purchasing an expensive item, it is important to consider how much repairs or replacement would cost versus the cost of an ESP. If the item is of critical importance to you, such as a computer used to make a living, an expensive part failure could be very detrimental. 

“For many people, peace of mind is the greatest benefit of an extended service plan,” according to Sean Stapleton, CEO of Warrantech. “They want to know that if their product should cease to function correctly, they will be covered, especially if replacement would be difficult to finance.”

Who is this product for and how will they handle it?

It is important to consider who will be using the product you’re purchasing, the environment in which it will reside, and the frequency it will be used. Are you buying a product for a young person? Is the item for use while on-the-go? Will you use the product routinely? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may want the confidence and protection that the product will last. Knowing your end user and end-use environment is important when deciding whether to invest in an extended service plan. Always review plan information carefully, ensuring you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.

The next time you make a significant investment in a product, ask yourself these three questions and be prepared once you get to the point-of-purchase.

Filed Under: cost, extended, plan, product, purchase, replace, service, Warrantech

Branding of Product Protection Programs

By: Jeff Hatch

January 06, 2015

A recent trend in the service contract industry is the emergence of administrators attempting to create a strong brand identity with consumers. Many administrators are working diligently to create brand recognition for their organizations by branding the protection offerings they sell through retail partners. The question is often asked, "Is this new approach in the best interest of the retailers?"

AMT Warranty and its subsidiary Warrantech's view is that the recent "brand building" business models employed by many administrators in the industry serve only to benefit the administrators and not their retail partners. This belief is derived from our core philosophy about the purpose of service contract programs. It's indisputable that service contract programs should provide important incremental revenue for retailers. However, our view is that a well-designed and maintained service contract program should drive customer loyalty and retention for the retailers selling the service contracts.

We view each service contract claim as an opportunity to enhance the trust between a customer and our retail partner who sold the underlying product and associated service contract. Product failures happen. When they do, customers feel a level of frustration. While it's true that the retailer is generally not the manufacturer of the product, customers often associate the product issue with the retailer who sold it to them. We believe that the solution to the product failure is best provided through a retailer-branded service contract in order to reestablish the trust that may have been diminished by the product failure. As a result of the service contract, retailers (through their administrator) are given the opportunity to engage in a highly personalized marketing campaign with a customer who at that moment may be their biggest detractor. We view this as micromarketing with macro effects.

In the emerging administrator-centric model, the solution is provided to the customer under the administrator's brand. The positive customer interaction and goodwill generated from resolving the customer's issue serves only to enhance the value of the provider's brand. That goodwill is retained by the provider, even after their relationship with the provider has ended. Even more problematic is that the administrator may also be marketing service contracts directly to consumers, including the customers of their retail partners. In essence, by agreeing to market service contracts under the administrator's brand, retailers could be promoting a competitor's offering to their customers. Moreover, the retailer has established a new relationship between their customers and a potential competitor. We feel that the resulting consequences for permitting administrator-branded service contract programs will have long-term financial implications for retailers as the strength of their administrator's brands increase in the eyes of the retailers' customers. 

While the desire of administrators to build their own brand value is understandable, retailers should be wary of the consequences.

Filed Under: administrator, brand, branding, contract, customer, product, program, protection, retailer, service