Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Warranty Warning
It seems like a good idea. When your car's factory warranty runs out, buy another one that will cover costs as your car ages. But beware, not all deals are created equal. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the Case.
WSVN -- Dana Wild says it started with a strange phone call. Then another and another.
The same company called her, telling her she needed to buy an extended warranty for her car.
Dana Wild: "I'd say they've been calling me probably once or twice a week."
The problem? They were talking about a car she hasn't owned for two years.
Dana Wild: "They keep talking about my 2002 Lexus, which we don't even own anymore."
And it didn't stop there.
Dana Wild: "They were trying to ask me, 'Well, what do you have now?' And I didn't really feel that was information I had needed to give them if they didn't have it already."
This man used to make calls pitching extended car warranties to people like Dana.
Unidentified Man: "I feel, I still feel very unethical."
He doesn't want to be identified because he admits he tricked people.
Unidentified Man: "You should never fall for high pressure tactics on the phone, people trying to force you to close now, now, now."
He says the pitch can come over the phone or in your mailbox.
Unidentified Man: "They actually send out four, five million mailers a month."
And while some companies are legit, others will do or say anything to get your money.
Unidentified Man: "Sometimes the salesman will tell them, just to really scare them, 'We're going to cancel your driver's license too, we're gonna report you.' If they're foreigners, 'We're going to report you to Homeland Security.'"
Unidentified Man: "It could be people whose cars are still under warranty, and they tell them, 'Well, our computer shows they're out of warranty.'"
But he says the biggest way people are misled is when they're told the policies are "bumper to bumper."
Unidentified Man: "They don't really cover everything bumper to bumper. As a matter of fact, they really don't cover the bumpers."
The Better Business Bureau has received 126 complaints about the company he used to work for, 100 of them for refusing to perform according to their contract. But that's just one of many auto warranty companies out there.
In fact, there are 5,933 registered with the state.
Alina Torres is with the state agency that regulates these companies.
Alina Torres: "At this time, we do have 67 investigative cases that we do have, and it ranges from a variety of companies."
She warns any little thing may void some of those "bumper to bumper" warranties.
Alina Torres: "If you also change something in your automobile, if you upgrade the exhaust system, if you change your tires by one inch, that can actually alter and void your warranty contract."
Times are tough right now, and few of us can afford to throw money away, so read everything before you sign up.
And beware of high pressure tactics.
Dana Wild: "Please, don't call me anymore, thank you."
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