Consumers should avoid “worthless” extended warranties on technology and appliances to save cash as they face the cost-of-living squeeze, according to Which?
Extended warranties from some of the UK’s biggest retailers are not worth the extra cost, and half of those who make a claim experience problems, a survey of 2,000 consumers found.
One in five shoppers bought a retailer’s extended warranty for a technology or appliance product in the past two years, taking out a policy for an average of just over two years at a cost of £84.80 a year, the study found.
However, Which? found consumers might be better off organising any unexpected repairs themselves, with a laptop fix costing an average of between £68 and £78.
Similarly, the average repair cost for a washing machine was between £82 and £108.
Which? also found that comprehensive cover was not guaranteed with extended warranties and consumers could also be paying for breakdown cover that was already included in the manufacturer’s guarantee.
Most of the products Which? looked at came with a manufacturer warranty of at least one year, with some lasting two or five years.
Some of the schemes also come with “surprising caveats”, with one retailer only allowing three successful claims during any 12-month period, while others said they could not offer a like-for-like product in the event of a replacement.
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, consumers can ask for a repair or replacement. If the retailer fails to repair or replace it, they can then ask for a full refund 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.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “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.
“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.”
Opinium surveyed 2,000 UK members of the public in April.