Consumer Reports: Don’t Buy the Extended Warranty (Unless It’s AppleCare)

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Consumer Reports published a report urging its readers to avoid all extended warranties with two exceptions: AppleCare for Macintosh computers and extended warranties for rear-projection microdisplay TVs. The magazine recommended extended warranties for these specific TVs due to a higher repair rate, while the company said that Appleis policy of offering only 90 days of phone support for its Macs gives AppleCare value to those buying Macs.

"This holiday season," said the report, "shoppers are expected to spend a whopping $1.6 billion on extended warranties for laptops, flat-screen TVs, other electronics, and appliances. And almost all of it will be money down the drain."

The magazine reached this position based on failure/repair rates throughout a variety of industries, and from comparing the cost of repairs to the cost of the cost of the extended warranty. The conclusion was that most products that fail do so outside of even the extended warranty period, and that more often than not the price of the repair was the same or less than the price of an extended warranty.

Accordingly, donit get the extended warranty.

Unless:

"There are two caveats to our just-say-no advice," said the report. "Itis worth considering an extended warranty if youire buying a rear-projection microdisplay TV. Repair costs can be high, and these sets have been three times more likely to need repairs than other types of TVs. We also think it may be wise to get an extended warranty (which includes extended tech support) if youire buying an Apple computer, because they come with only 90 days of phone tech support."

The full report at ConsumerReports.org has charts on repair rates and more information on its conclusions.

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