Many shops are very keen to offer you 'extended warranties', or 'service agreements', when you buy goods like DVD players, hi-fi equipment, TVs and washing machines.
These pay for repairs to or replace a product if it goes wrong over a specified period, usually three to five years. They can cost up to 50% of the purchase price. Shops make a lot of their profits from warranties and customers find themselves subjected to 'hard-sell' tactics by shop assistants who often earn commission from selling them.
Research has shown that generally these go unused: the manufacturer's guarantee sorts out repairs and refunds in the first 12 months and that most of the goods do not break down in subsequent years. Even if they do, the cost of the repair often works out less that the cost of the warranty.
It may be worth complaining to the retailer after 12 months if, for example a washing machine breaks down substantially after 18 months, on the grounds that they sold you something that's not fit for purpose, meaning that one would expect a brand new washing machine to work for longer than that.
This page was updated on 15 July, 2008