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Free Extended Warranties

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Updated January 2018

Many shops try to scare customers into buying costly warranties for all electrical appliances and white goods - most are a complete waste of money.

Yet if you want peace of mind, there are tricks to get free cover or multiple-item policies for as little as £11 per month. This step-by-step guide will help you decide whether to get a warranty (or an extended one if you've already got one covering an initial period), the cheapest deals if you do, and how to maximise protection without one.

The five need-to-knows

Before you jump in at the deep end and sign up for a warranty (or an extended), consider these need-to-knows.

  • Warranties sold in shops are often massively over-priced

    Many shops will try to flog a warranty on virtually everything - even if the goods only cost a few quid.

    Sometimes the warranties cost almost as much as buying a new product. In which case, it's better to take the risk, save the money, and buy a new one if your product breaks.

    But if you do want an extended warranty, you can buy an insurance product which covers multiple products, or use a handy comparison tool which searches for the cheapest option. With the comparison site the warranty and the item don't necessarily have to be purchased from the same shop, giving you time to find the best deal.

  • You have consumer rights without warranties

    Under UK consumer law, goods are faulty if they're not of satisfactory quality or fit to do the job intended.

    If you've faulty goods, take them back within six months and the onus is on the shop to prove they WEREN'T faulty when you bought them - only after that must you prove they were. Yet all goods must also last a 'reasonable time' - and this can be a long time for some expensive puchases. Full info below on consumer rights.

  • Your home insurance might cover you

    Some home insurance policies will cover electrical items and white goods from theft and damage, though breakdown is less likely.

    'All-risks' cover usually includes items taken outside the home too. See full details below of what you should check on your home insurance policy.

  • You can use warranties as a haggling chip

    Sales staff often have targets on the number of warranties they must sell on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.

    Reaching the target is often crucial to them; therefore it gives consumers a real bargaining tool to haggle down the cost of products.

    The best bit is you're free to change your mind within 45 days under The Supply of Extended Warranties on Domestic Electrical Goods Order 2005 regulations. So buy the item at the knocked-down price - then cancel the policy for a full refund.

What are warranties?

A warranty is an insurance policy that lasts one to five years after you've bought an appliance, which covers you against the cost of repairs and replacements.

While the concept is good, the problem is they can cost as much as the product itself and account for a large proportion of retailers' profits and salespeoples' commission.

Worse still, some warranties used to advertise rights that were already yours by law; though the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 now prohibit this.

What do they cover?

Warranties usually cover your appliance for mechanical or electrical failure, not accidental damage. You should get a repair including parts and labour or, if it can't be repaired, a replacement (though you may have to pay towards this).

It won't pay out for theft, or damage caused by sun, sea water or other natural elements. Stand-alone warranties won't pay out if you're still covered by a manfacturer's guarantee so there's little point in having both.

Different warranty types

Retailers pushing expensive warranties have dragged the product's name through the mud.

Worse, in recent years some have changed from being insurance policies to service agreements and the Financial Conduct Authority doesn't regulate these providers in the same way. More on protection below.

Yet they're not the only ones offering warranties, there are others out there that may be far cheaper. There are three main different ways you can cover products:

Manfacturers' guarantees

Direct insurance for products

Multi-appliance warranties

Do you need a warranty?

Before you consider a warranty, it's worth understanding your rights and checking if you're already covered.

Is there a manufacturer's guarantee?

Most appliances come with a 12-month manufacturer's guarantee. Problems within that time will get you a repair or replacement but it's unlikely to cover you for accidental damage. Make sure you register your appliance or you risk invalidating the guarantee.

If you're wondering about the difference between a guarantee and warranty...

  • A guarantee... is usually a free promise by the manufacturer or retailer to fix or replace the problem.
  • A warranty... is a similar promise, but in this case it's paid-for by an insurance policy.

You have strong statutory rights anyway

When you buy anything, you will be protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It says goods should be of satisfactory quality, fit to do the job intended and last a reasonable length of time.

Where goods are faulty, take them back within six months and this law means the shop has to prove they WERE NOT faulty when you bought them.

Even after that you still have strong rights for six years, but from then on you must prove the goods WERE faulty when you bought them. So at the very worst, if you buy, take it home and it doesn't work, take it back and you are entitled to a full repair, replacement or at least a percentage towards the cost of a replacement.

Act as soon as possible

If you get in touch with the trader to tell them you want to cancel the contract within 30 days from the day after you receive the goods this is called your Ďshort-term right to rejectí. Some stores may offer longer than 30 days, so itís worth asking if you have more time.

If you act within this time, and you send the goods back if asked by the trader, youíre entitled to a full refund. The refund needs to be paid without any delays and within 14 days at the most. After this time, you lose the right to reject the goods and you'll have fewer rights.

After 30 days you can choose if you want a repair or replacement. Which to ask for is entirely down to you but the retailer can say no if itís impossible to carry out or the cost of your choice is much higher for them than the alternative.

If the item is still dodgy after just one attempt at a repair or replacement, the repair or replacement isnít possible or it hasnít been carried out quickly enough youíre then entitled to ask for a partial refund. Within the first six months this could be the full amount.

Does your home insurance cover it?

Does the shop give a free warranty?

Free Section 75 protection on credit cards

Could you repair it yourself?

Can you 'self-insure' it?

Best buys: The cheapest warranties

If you want a warranty, free ones via credit card perks are the cheapest way to get them.

A poor second is via specialist standalone providers. Here, the cheapest depends on what the appliance is, how much it's worth and how old it is. Usually, standalone warranties won't cover goods over eight years old.

It's always important to check the cover is appropriate for you first. And remember most policies won't pay out within the first 30 days.

Best for: Multiple products*

Offers three different levels of cover* offers three levels of cover. Bronze is the lowest and costs £10.99/month. It covers up to £1,000 worth of products. Silver is £17.99/month for up to £3,000 of items, and Gold is £21.99/month for up to £5,000.

There's no limit on the number of items you can cover under one policy, so you can cover anything from your cooker, washing machine to your TV all at the same time, though you're limited by an annual claim cap (how much that is depends on your level of cover).

Quick facts
  • Price: From £11/month
  • FCA-regulated? Yes - full details on safety
  • Covered for theft? No
  • Annual claim cap: Up to £5,000
  • Includes parts? Yes
  • Excess? £20-£70 depending on the age of the product
  • Max age of appliance: Eight years

Best for: Single products

No single warranties are that cheap. If you do want one, check out the following...*

Offers single policy cover* also offers cover for single products for £78.93/yr (option to pay monthly no longer available), with a maximum item value of £3,000. It has an excess of £30 (or £60 if the product is more than five years old), but could still come out on top for more expensive items.

Quick facts
  • Price: £78.93/yr
  • FCA-regulated? Yes - full details on safety
  • Covered for theft? No
  • Limit per item, per claim: £300
  • Includes parts? Yes
  • Excess? £30 to £60
  • Max age of appliance: Eight years
Compare extended warranties

Compare Extended Warranties

Comparison tool compares high street warranties

Compare Extended Warranties is simple price comparison site where you can compare the price of warranties across a range of household items. It's run by four providers - Currys PC World, Argos, Domestic & General, Tesco - under an agreement with the Office of Fair Trading.

You don't need to buy the product and the warranty from the same place, though some won't cover products bought elsewhere. Currys PC World don't allow you to buy the warranty separately, but Domestic & General does.

This comparison site often comes out best for single products, and for multiple products with low values, so check for the items you want to cover and see whether you can beat the multiple item policies above.

Be very careful when using this site as it can be confusing in the way it lists policies. For some policies listed you pay monthly, but others are priced for three or five years. Check that the price - and the cover - are suitable for your needs.

You can't click through from the comparison site to the provider, so you'll have to visit the warranty provider separately. Usually, you'll then need to call or visit a store as only a couple of providers allow you to buy online.

Includes a warranty in the price

John Lewis

John Lewis

John Lewis has been left off the comparison site, but offers a good alternative. It typically offers a five-year guarantee on TVs, three years on its own-brand appliances, and now a minimum of two years on all other electrical goods at no extra cost. It also price matches, so if you find the product cheaper elsewhere, it'll match it.

The warranties warning checklist

The small print varies between policies, so make sure you check the following before parting with any cash.

Is your policy protected if the provider goes bust?

Is accidental damage or theft included?

When does the policy start?

Do you have to pay for extras?

Is it 'new for old' replacement for unrepairable goods?

Can you extend the warranty beyond its original life?

Do you get full cover for the entire duration of the policy?

Is there an annual claim limit on multiple warranties?

Is it a cashback policy? If so, avoid like the plague

What's the cancellation policy?

Can you extend the warranty beyond its original life?

What if the warranty doesn't pay up?

Warranties are legally binding - so if the retailer or provider doesn't do what it should, you have legal recourse. Hopefully it will never get to this, but it's worth being aware of your rights if there's a problem.

Step 1: Complain to the policy provider

Escalate the complaint as far as you can with the policy provider. Include all the details of previous communications. Quote the clause in your warranty that you want to claim under to help your case.

Step 2: FCA-regulated? Complain to the free Ombudsman

Specialist providers of warranties are usually regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. So if you encounter any problems claiming, you can go to the Financial Ombudsman, the independent arbiter of financial disputes.

The most important thing to remember is that with any FCA-regulated company you have a right to be "treated fairly" - which of course is a very wide statement. So if you think your complaint hasn't been treated fairly, you can refer it to the free Financial Ombudsman.

Hopefully, just threatening the policy provider with this should be enough in the first place. If not, then fill in the Ombudsman's form and submit your complaint. Read the Your Financial Rights guide for full details of how to do it.

Policies you get direct from manufacturers or retailers (these tend to be free) are usually service agreements meaning they're not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. In which case you'll have to skip to step 3.

Step 3: Consider the small claims court

As a very last resort, you could consider going to the small claims court. There's a fee from £25 depending on how much you're claiming, but it's refunded with successful claims. For full info, see the Small Claims Court guide.

How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in the small print. Itís always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not thenÖ

Free tool if youíre having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. Itís totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing as thatís usually quicker.

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