Which? says consumers should consider cancelling warranties in cost-of-living crisis and pay for repairs themselves for less
HOUSEHOLDS wanting to save money should consider ditching extended warranties on appliances and technology, suggests a top consumer group.
Which? says policies taken out by customers to insure against repairs or breakdowns are often not worth the extra money, as households struggle to cover the costs of essentials.
Researchers point to a survey of more than 2,000 consumers where one in five had paid extra for an extended warranty on an item of technology or household appliance in the last two years. However, half of those who had been forced to make a claim told the organisation they had experienced problems.
On average, says Which? extended warranties are taken out for just over two years at a cost of roughly £84 – albeit this can differ slightly between products and retailers. But with increasing pressure being placed on people's incomes as outgoings rocket, consumer experts say it could often be cheaper for people to organise repairs themselves if and when they are needed.
Among the most expensive warranties currently on the market, claims Which?, is a year's protection with Argos for an HP laptop for £112. But it says, depending on the fault, getting a laptop repaired with a local firm is likely on average to cost between £68 and £78.
Similarly, the average repair cost for a washing machine is between £82 and £108, often below the cost of an extended warranty for such an appliance, and so instead of taking out a policy for a fault that might not happen, consumers would be better better off saving the money and organising their own repairs if the product does ever develop a fault.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s Bank, which owns Argos, says its Argos Care warranties "provide customers with peace of mind, offer excellent value for money and are hassle free" and are designed to complement and extend the basic protections of a manufacturer guarantee and the consumer rights act.
But comprehensive cover, claims the study, can also be far from guaranteed with every policy, while consumers in some instances may be paying for breakdown cover already covered by a manufacturer's guarantee.
Most of the products Which? looked at, details the report, came with a manufacturer warranty of at least one year, with some lasting two or five years, and typically these would cover you for breakdowns without the need for any additional cover.
Warranties offered by Amazon, AO, Appliance City, Argos and Very come with breakdown cover, explains Which?, but their policies do not allow you to claim for breakdown problems included in the manufacturer warranty and therefore customers are essentially only paying for accidental damage protection until that guarantee period ends. John Lewis’ extended warranty for TVs and laptops only covers accidental damage and not any breakdown issues.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, people are entitled to a full refund, repair or replacement if they notice a fault within 30 days.
After 30 days, customers can ask for a repair or replacement. If the retailer fails to repair or replace it, a full refund can be requested as long as it is within the first six months. After this, the retailer can deduct for usage.
If the customer discovers a fault within the first six months after buying a product, it is presumed to have been there since the time of purchase unless the retailer can prove otherwise, with statutory rights lasting for up to six years in England.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, explained: "Although it is hugely disruptive when a tech product or appliance breaks, our research shows that extended warranties and insurance plans just aren’t worth the extra cost as they don’t cover you for as much as you might expect.
"If you’re looking to cut costs during the cost of living crisis and want to cancel your warranty, you should receive a full refund if you cancel within 45 days and haven’t made a claim and a pro-rata refund after then."
But for people who appreciate the safety cushion provided by policies, Which? says there are alternative ways to protect your items.
Natalie added: "If you do want the extra protection on your appliances – or don’t think you could afford the upfront cost of a repair yourself, it’s worth looking at home and contents insurance that covers all your tech and appliances for accidental damage, rather than having individual plans for each product."