The following article by Shara Richter appears in the TWICE Guide to Extended Service Contracts, a supplement to the April 7 issue of TWICE magazine. For more information on the stories in that issue, be sure to visit www.twice.com.
The concept, image, definition and demographic of the extended service warranty have all changed substantially over the years.
Extended service warranties were meant to be insurance contracts that retailers sold to consumers to cover repairs on products that were either not covered by the manufacturer's warranty or that went into effect after the manufacturer's warranty expired. In theory this was and is still a great idea that should have protected consumers and increased profits for retailers. In the past however, the warranty business gained a mixed reputation for leaving some consumers holding the bag. Consumers were less likely to buy warranties on electronics and retailers were losing out on all the potential profits. But that is old news. Today, consumers and retailers alike are opting in on service warranties for a variety of reasons and benefits.
Today's extended warranty service plans are an upgrade from the past and offer better services for customers — whether it be in customer service, product repairs or product replacements. Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and senior director of research says "The whole service environment has changed. It's no longer just about increasing margins, but also improving the customer experience. You want your customers to be happy and to come back," he recently told TWICE.
This expanding definition may be raising the bar on consumer expectations of their warranty coverage. Some service contracts now include such perks as 24-hour/seven days a week technical support. Consumers can tap online resources that are at once intuitive and automated and give technicians remote access for real-time troubleshooting and fixes. Plus some contracts offer protection for previously uncovered circumstances such as accidental damage and typically exempt services such as installation, says the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
These consumer-friendly upgrades appeal to a key CE demographic, millennials. The young consumers are dependent on their mobile devices, and those products have a greater chance of sustaining drops, spills and other accidental damage precisely because of their portability. As a consequence, millennials are more inclined than preceding generations to insure their products with repair and replacement plans. CEA research shows that these consumers are not only open to buying protection plans but want to buy them to protect their most important possession — their mobile devices.
For more information about service contracts and extended warranties from Warrantech, be sure to visit http://www.warrantech.com/partners/consumer-products/extended-service-plans/.
Filed Under: Association, Consumer, devices, Electronics, extended, millennials, mobile, service, TWICE, warranties
This has been a winter of extremes. While a number of cities in the eastern United States set records for frigid temperatures, snow accumulation and maintenance costs, western cities like Las Vegas and Tucson reported their warmest winters on record. The effects have been immediately noticeable to anyone who has had to endure the elements. But what might not be as apparent is the effect that these excessive record-setting temperatures can have on your vehicle.
“When consumers buy a new car, they may not be thinking about how weather extremes can affect the life of crucial car parts,” said Tim Meenan, executive director of the Service Contract Industry Council (SCIC). “No one can do anything to control the weather or its impact on vehicles, but extended warranties can make a tremendous difference in getting past those problems. They’re the best protection for your wallet when extreme weather causes damage that requires a trip to the repair shop.”
An extended warranty (sometimes referred to as a vehicle service contract) can also provide you with added peace of mind in case you find yourself stranded in a remote area during a snowstorm or heat wave. Plus, it allows you to protect your investment, increase your car’s value and make upfront payments that fit within your budget so you can avoid having to pay for any large or unexpected repairs in the future.
The SCIC points out that the winter and summer seasons are the busiest times of year for car repair shops. Salt, sand, UV rays and ice are just a few of the culprits that can lead to rusting, corrosion and expensive repairs to core components.
Brian Hafer, vice president of marketing for AutoMD.com, adds that extreme temperatures are a car killer, which makes regular maintenance all the more important. “Not following the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual is very common,” says Hafer. “People have these repair issues because they didn't consult their owner's manual. Typically, it happens more often with younger drivers because they just aren't aware.”
What You Can Do About It
Besides having a reliable vehicle service contract and establishing a routine maintenance schedule, here are a few simple tips to help extend the life of your vehicle and save you money in the long run.
Check your antifreeze. Not having fresh coolant can cause your water pump to freeze during the winter and overheat your engine in the summer.
Examine all fluid levels. Oil, transmission, brake and power steering fluids can all thicken in cold weather, while excessive heat can cause fluid loss.
Make sure your battery is fully charged. Batteries get stressed in extreme temperatures. If yours is more than three years old, consider replacing it.
Consider an engine block heater for the winter months. At the very least, always warm up your car engine before driving to allow oil to circulate properly.
Keep the gas tank half full. This will help you avoid frozen gas lines.
Inspect your tires. Cold weather can cause tires to lose several pounds of air pressure and searing heat can lead to cracking.
Clean the windshield before using your wipers. Ice can tear wiper blades and restrict motion, which can also tear up the wiper motor and pop the arm.
Keep extra fluids in your car. Extra coolant and windshield washer fluid are always good to have on hand in case of an emergency.
For more information about vehicle service contracts from Warrantech, visit http://www.warrantech.com/partners/automotive/service-contracts/
Filed Under: contract, extended, extreme, service, temperatures, Vehicle, warranties