Paid Product Warranties: Two Marketing Case Studies one good and one horror story

UPDATE: Right after this article was published, I got a call from someone at CompUSA.  They told me two things.

1. That the CompUSA I was writing about was out of business and the NEW CompUSA would never treat customers with warranty issues so shabbily.

2. That they had made arrangements for me to get a new TV for all my troubles.

I will write more in my next article, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that on Thursday i received a new TV as a replacement for the 4 years of fighting with their (well actually the OLD CompUSA’s) warranty company (Assurant Solutions).

Warranties, especially the paid variety can be a mixed bag.  Last week I had two warranty experiences that were unbelievable.

The first was a horror show.  4 years ago I bought a TV through CompUSA.  I bought their 4 year TAP (Total Assurance Protection plan, I think it was called.).  The warranty was expensive costing nearly 20% of what the TV cost.

The TV was a lemon from day one.  There was an intermittent problem with the sound.  Sometimes it worked, and sometimes not.  The way the CompUSA warranty was structured, I had to jump through way too many hoops to prove the TV was a lemon.  Long story short, I was forced to have 3 separate companies come and fix the TV.  Guess what… each time the repair companies came, the sound was back on.  Two of the repair companies came in more than once; one time taking the TV back to their shop for 2 weeks while I was going on vacation to “see if they could recreate the problem”.  Nothing!  Each time I documented the case with CompUSA’s warranty division and did everything they asked for.  And each time I requested a new TV only to be told that I hadn’t met the criteria for a replacement.  I was even told there was nothing wrong with the TV as they couldn’t find a problem when the repair companies showed.

I wonder if the good folks at CompUSA get the concept of intermittent.  Each time I was called I was treated with indifference by people like they hated their jobs – people who clearly had no business dealing with the public.

3 weeks ago right after the warranty ended, the sound went out yet again.  I figured that with all the documentation, even though the warranty ended I could get a repair company out.  After all, this was and ongoing issue right?  Wrong.  Like a mantra, all I got was “I’m sorry Mr. Gilbert I cannot help you since your warranty ended”.  Finally after pleading for 15 minutes for someone to treat me like a real human being, (spoke to the supervisor too), I gave up.

So CompUSA, if you are listening, be prepared to be tweeted, yelped, facebooked and anything else I can do to let people know that you don’t stand behind your products and your people, well, suck!

On the positive side of paid warranties, there is Apple.  My 2 year old iPhone died.  Wouldn’t take a charge.  One 10 minute call to Apple Care (they made an appointment at my local apple store when they couldn’t help me fix over the phone), and a half hour in the apple store, and I walked out with a brand new iPhone.  I was treated with respect by a caring, smiling human being who honored my warranty.

So Steve Jobs if you are listening… Thank you!!!  And to CompUSA, learn!

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