Victory in extended warranty war
❚ Treat extendedwarrantieswith scepticism ❚ Do not fear to complain ❚ Knowyour Consumer Guarantees Act rights.
within six years – then an extended warranty is probably utterly pointless.
Ditto for a fridge, or a microwave, or a dishwasher, or a freezer.
Bear in mind though that extended warranties can offer rights that go above and beyond the Consumer Guarantees Act. So why the dip in complaints? The answer may be that the commission has been educating retailers, and a law change requires retailers to provide the buyers of extended warranties with details of their key rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act. All is not totally well though. The commission noted ‘‘the widespread movement by retailers toward pushing consumers to manufacturers for warranty claims’’.
What that means is retailers saying: ‘‘sorry your (insert appliance here) broke, but go to the manufacturer if you are unhappy’’.
Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, the retailer has to fix the problem.
Being a retailer can be very tough.
They are competing with online stores, and people seem to want to pay less and less for items, meaning furious discounting and semi-permanent sales.
It’s no wonder that they try to sell warranties to improve their profits, or to protect them by sending unhappy consumers away to deal with the manufacturer.
The trick when a retailer tries to fob you off in the direction of a manufacturer is to use the magic words ‘‘Consumer Guarantees Act’’.
Larger retailers seem to have a process in place when a customer shows signs of not being totally ignorant of their rights.
It’s not nice to complain, but doing so with an even temper and a firmness of purpose is good for you, and good for your fellow consumers.
It’s amazing it took so long to reform the law on extended warranties.
The reason is that New Zealand believed for so long in ‘‘caveat emptor’’; that it was up to the consumer to protect themselves.
Greater consumer protections have been brought in where this has been exposed as misplaced faith, but the going has been slow. There’s a good reason for that.
Fred Dodds, head of the Institute of Financial Advisers, told me that it was time the Commerce Minister was given a seat in Cabinet.
Australia has just taken that step, and so should we, he argued. I’m with him.
Too often business interests have trumped consumer interests on the political front, and it is time that consumers were represented at the highest level of government.
The rub is the Consumer Guarantees Act requires items to be fault-free and durable for as long as most people would expect that kind of product to last.
Complaining is the exercise of a consumer’s power.