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5 Common Warranty Pitfalls (And How to Avoid Them)

Using social media to your advantage and understanding your rights can help you get out of a bad deal.
warranty problems

If warranties are supposed to protect you when the products you purchase fall apart, then what are you supposed to do when the warranty falls apart? It pays to make the most of what warranties will and won't allow, and know what to do when you run into problems.

Here we present five strategies to help you deal with the common warranty problems you might face.

Deal With Bad Customer Service on Social Media

Reaching a customer service representative is hard enough. When you've got warranty issues to settle, there's an added urgency that goes into getting your voice heard.

SEE ALSO: You Only Have to Buy These 9 Things Once

No one has a monopoly on mediocrity. And if customer service fails time and again in easing your warranty woes, there's one thing you can do: Take your gripes to social media. More companies are watching what's said about them nowadays, because their customers are, too. According to PwC's Total Retail Survey 2016, two-thirds of shoppers say that either reading or writing social media reviews and comments influences their online shopping behavior. Broadcast your horror story on Facebook or Instagram, and there's more of a chance than ever that some company worker bee will jump in before it becomes a buzz.

Find the Part That Fits

With the explosion of high-tech consumer appliances, companies servicing your warranty may have a hard time locating your part. One way around this issue is to do your research first. YouTube videos can provide useful clues, and websites such as have exhaustive lists of parts for a multitude of appliances you can search by brand name, model, and part number. To whatever extent you can help your own cause, it pays to derail the operator's thousand yard stare before it starts.

Talk to Manufacturers

There's often no telling when you're going to run into an obstinate manager or someone who just doesn't get your problem. In that case, you can try going straight to the manufacturer, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC supplies a complaint letter template you can use in addressing your issue. Whenever possible, use the name of a real person when addressing your complaint, instead of a general department.

Use the name of a real person when addressing your complaint, instead of a general department.

Consider Your Legal Options

Still having warranty issues? You'll want to seriously consider going to small claims court. Here the FTC offers some sound, simple guidance: "If your dispute involves less than $750, you can usually file a lawsuit in small claims court. The costs are relatively low, procedures are simple, and lawyers usually aren't needed." To get more details, contact the clerk of the small claims court in your municipality.

Save Your Receipts

In the quest to keep warranty disputes in check, you'll want to keep and file every item that bolsters your case. Start with your receipts, then save every email correspondence between you and the company(s) in question. If you've needed to foot the bill for your own replacement and repairs, keep those bills on hand as well, along with any written description of the service work you've paid for.

This isn't as hard as it might sound — the process is sequential and only need build up as warranty difficulties arise. Assuming you can work your way up the ladder to a manager or authority figure, all that paperwork will only help your case.

SEE ALSO: What Does Refurbished Mean? How to Tell the Difference Between Not-New Items

Some product mishaps truly are our fault. (As much as you might want to, you can't hold the factory or merchant responsible for throwing your stereo at a brick wall or washing your smartphone with your jeans.) But we need to keep retailers and manufacturers honest, too. The best way to address warranty problems is to stop them before they begin. Buy from reputable companies, research the products you're interested in, and read the reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Ultimately, the best warranty is the one you never have to use.

Readers, have you ever experienced a warranty headache? How did you resolve the issue? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Contributing Writer

Lou Carlozo is a DealNews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the Managing Editor of, and a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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snaimpally, I'm surprised to hear that. I've bought Square Trade warranties for years. I've only had to use them once on a cell phone and it was handled very fast. My money was refunded in 4 days.
Avoid SquareTrade warranties - they are useless. I purchased several warranties for various products and after several years without making a claim, I tried to make a claim. The CSR was rude and unreasonable, telling me that any manufacturing defects would have turned up on the first day I received the product. A complete waste of money.
computer parts guy
Don't forget most credit cards add another year to the warranty within three years of purchase. They of course are the last resort.
Also when you get the worst possible customer service rep ever, call back another time. Rather than ask for the supervisor I have gotten some people with poor attitudes that were resolved in the next call to the same place connecting to a different person. I can't count how many times I have called a public servant or customer service rep that treating me like I was bothering them. The next time I called I was pleasantly surprised to find a sincere person that wanted to solve the problem.
dealnews-bglaser (DealNews)

Wow! But I'm not entirely surprised, Costco is one of those stores famous for their customer service and generous return policy. (They're tougher on electronics, though.) Thanks for sharing!
"Deal With Bad Customer Service on Social Media"
It's pretty bad when a consumer has to publicly attract attention to get service from a company, rather than a person-to-person email or phone call.
I had a Shark vacuum that came with a 5 year warranty. After about 3 years, problems arose, and for weeks, I got the runaround from Shark. They ultimately said something to the effect- You bought it at Costco, take it back to them.
Surprisingly, Costco refunded my entire purchase price from 3 years ago. I immediately purchased a replacement at Costco, albeit NOT a Shark.