The extended warranty blues

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Playing out over the last three months in the background of our lives, the saga of the extended warranty on our new stove has now moved front and center.

At this point, we don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or simply give up, so I decided to write a story about our experience. In the past, for some stories, I’ve been accused of stretching the truth to its breaking point. But I assure you; the events you are about to read are indeed all true.

Hopefully, they will guide you on whether you should or should not purchase an extended warranty. It might keep you from later playing the Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve Game.

There’re lots of things you can live without in your life – a refrigerator, washer/dryer, dishwasher or stove are not among them. If any of the above break down, so will your life until it gets fixed. And if all of them break down, any semblance of a happy home will go out the window until they are all fixed and/or replaced. Welcome to our world for the last eight months.

First item to break down making our happy little home not so: the washing machine. Even though there’s a perfectly good creek with running water just down the street, The Wife said beating clothes over rocks to get them clean wasn’t an option. So it was off to the giant appliance store with the blue roof for a new washer. So important is the washing machine in our daily lives, we answered, “Yes,” when asked about purchasing a five-year extended warranty.

Next breakdown: the dishwasher. We were able to live without a dishwasher for two months, but daily trips to the creek with our two granddaughters to clean the dishes just got to be too much. That, and the fine folks at the police department said cleaning dishes in the creek really wasn’t a good idea and not to do it anymore.

So back to the giant appliance store with the big blue roof we went. They were happy to see us again and sold us a top of the line dishwasher. (No prewashing in the creek necessary.) So important is the dishwasher in our lives, we said, “Yes,” and bought another five-year extended warranty.

Third breakdown: the clothes dryer. This time the creek down at the bottom of the hill was not an answer to the breakdown. But the many trees in our backyard sure were.

Unlike with the washer and dishwasher breakdown, no time was wasted by yours truly trying to fix the situation. When The Wife got home from work, I had clothesline strung between six trees with clothes already drying.

For some reason, she didn’t want our unmentionables flapping in the wind, so off to the giant appliance store with the blue roof we went. They were happy to see us again so soon and were happy to sell us yet another major appliance. So important is the dryer in our lives, we also said “Yes” to the five-year extended warranty. The Wife was happy once again and so were our neighbors.

When our 12-year-old stove broke, I tried to convince The Wife we could simply cook on the outdoor grill. She said no. So we took another trip the giant appliance store with the big blue roof, bought a stove and another five-year extended warranty.

Once again, all was right in our little home. Right up to the point our new stove broke down and we tried to use our new five-year extended warranty. And that’s when we found out a few important facts.

The salesperson sold us an extended five-year warranty, but for the first year the stove is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. That means the five-year extended warranty we paid for really is only a four-year warranty. When questioned about this, the salesperson wouldn’t add an extra year nor give us a year’s worth of refund.

The repair person in our area only comes out on Wednesdays; we would have to stay home from 8 to 5 in the afternoon. Complaining that even the cable company can give us a four-hour timeframe, the salesperson smiled and replied, “The repair person only works Wednesday — first appointment is in three weeks.”

On the day the repairman came out, he examined the stove, said that it was broken and parts would have to be ordered. Another appointment was made for the repair — Wednesday in three weeks.

Wednesday arrived, and so did the repairman, but no parts. Another appointment was scheduled — Wednesday in three weeks. Wednesday came, the correct parts came, but the repairman didn’t. Seems he had an emergency that would take all day to resolve. We were rescheduled for the next available appointment — Wednesday in three weeks. I called the giant appliance store with the big blue roof to complain.

We’ve been without a working stove for over three months and have learned quite a lot. When you buy an extended five-year warranty, it’s really only four. Check and see if the repairman only services your area on Wednesday. If so, don’t buy the warranty. Spending three months complaining about your extended warranty will get you lots of stuff: an apology from the corporate office of the giant appliance store with the blue roof, an extra six months of warranty (only good for Wednesdays), and a check for $100. That’s the cost of a five-year extended warranty (which is really only four).

What complaining won’t do is get your stove fixed or the repairman to your house on any other day except Wednesdays. Even though we’ve enjoyed takeout from our local restaurants, we could’ve bought a new stove for all the money we spent.

But all is not lost – another Wednesday is right around the corner and I’m going back to school – appliance repair school.

So, should you purchase an extended warranty? If you do, upon graduation, I could be arriving at your house to fix your appliance breakdown — as long as it’s on a Wednesday. After all, I’m retired.

Soon I’ll work only one day a week, have all day to show up, and when I do, nothing will get done. But have no worries, I have years to get things fixed and it won’t cost you anything. You bought an extended warranty.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]