The Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service is advising consumers to do their homework if considering buying a warranty.
With Black Friday fast approaching, Northern Ireland consumers will be planning to head to the shops hoping to snap up bargains on gadgets and other electrical goods.
Extended warranties offer people the chance to pay for increased protection when buying products, over and above the standard manufacturer’s guarantee. Some are insurance policies and others are service agreements.
Any business selling an extended warranty must make sure it does not give false information, or present information in a misleading way. It must not omit or hide important information; and all information must be clear and prominent. For example, consumers should be told about any important things that might not be covered, such as cosmetic damage.
Sharon Muldoon, from the Trading Standards Service, said: “When you buy goods, particularly electrical goods, you are often offered the option of an extended warranty for peace of mind in the event that the product becomes defective. In many cases, sales staff will push the sale of warranties to gain commission or meet sales targets. However, consumers shouldn’t feel under pressure to buy a warranty. This is an optional product and you don’t have to decide there and then. You can always buy one later.
“It is important to remember that you can still avail of your statutory rights. You may be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement if something is faulty. Any warranty is in addition to these statutory rights and can never take them away.
“Extended warranties can be expensive and even cost as much as the product itself, particularly if you are buying in the sales, so think carefully about your options and make an informed decision. Don’t end up spending a lot more than you expected.”
Trading Standards Service advises consumers to take their time if considering buying a warranty and remember:
- You might be covered already, so check other insurance policies such as home contents;
- There may be cheaper options - for example, if you have lots of gadgets, it might cheaper in the long run to buy multiple item insurance;
- Check what the warranty covers – know what you are buying;
- Check the cost of the warranty against buying a replacement product. It might be more cost effective to do this if needed;
- Most appliances come with a 12 month manufacturer’s guarantee. Products typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty which might be enough for your needs;
- You can shop around. Check comparison sites for the best price and features.
If you think you’ve been mis-sold an extended warranty or want further advice you can contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.