Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Help Me Howard: Extended Warranty
We've all been there-- car troubles. One man thought he was protecting himself by purchasing an extended warranty, but when the repair bill came, he was left holding the bill. Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser kicks this one into high gear.
WSVN -- Robert Peifer is lucky, working in the neonatal care unit to help save newborns' lives.
Robert Peifer: "A lot of people think it's very sad, but it is very rewarding, and most of the babies get better and are able to go home, and it's very rewarding."
By day, Robert helps babies. Tonight, he needs help.
Robert Peifer: "So, I trusted them."
Robert trusted a warranty company in Missouri, paying them $3,000 for an extended warranty on his car.
Robert Peifer: "It looked to me like nearly everything would be covered, like they said, except for the wear and tear items. That was supposed to prevent any expensive surprises."
That was a year ago. Then, a few weeks ago, his engine light came on and he took the car into a dealer.
Robert Peifer: "I brought it in, and they found all of these things wrong with the car that totaled $8,400."
Eighty-four thousand dollars was a lot, but Robert was relieved knowing he had that extended warranty in his pocket, but then the repairman gave him some bad news.
Robert Peifer: "Then they told me that the service contract I purchased was really only covering the power train, and that they were only going to cover about $800 of the bill, and I would be left with $7,625 in repairs."
Robert could not believe it, especially after re-reading the paperwork the warranty company had given him.
Robert Peifer: "Then I looked at my service contract, the brochure and the contract, and it looked to me like most all of the repairs should have been covered, except for one, which was the brakes."
Robert called the warranty company immediately.
Robert Peifer: "They were not very nice on the phone, they just told me that if a part is not listed, it is not covered. When I told them on the brochure it looks like things are covered, they told me, don't look at the brochure, look at the contract itself."
When you add up the $3,000 for the warranty, and the cost of the repairs the warranty won't cover, well, you can probably feel Robert's pain.
Robert Peifer: "That's $10,000 or more. That's very tough. I can't afford it."
But, should he have to pay it? Should the repairs be covered by the extended warranty company, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, no and maybe. Some repairs that were made should have been covered, and it's tough to determine if other repairs that appear to be covered are covered because of the language used in the invoice. We even had a mechanic look at the paperwork, and he could not determine exactly what repairs were even made."
For two weeks we left messages with Western General in Missouri. The dealer who repaired the car also tried to get them to help Robert. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, they sent an e-mail, telling us that they have re-reviewed the invoice and have decided to cover some additional items, and that they are going to issue Robert a check. He will get money, but many people buying non-manufacturer extended warranties are not as lucky.
Howard Finkelstein: "Car manufacturer's warranties are good, but many people think an extended warranty, sold by a private company are just as good as the original warranty. Consumer advocates say that is not true, and that most extended car warranties are not worth the money."
Robert will now be getting a total of $2,400 from the warranty company. Not what he wanted, and he desperately needs the rest.
Robert Peifer: "I didn't have that much money to cover it, and so I had to put it on my credit card."
And why do consumer experts consider extended warranties from private companies a gamble? Well the things on a vehicle that are covered by an extended warranty usually don't break, and the things that break down, usually aren't covered. The bottom line, it's your money, your decision.
Riding around with a problem that's breaking you down? Wanna drop it off with us? Contact us. We don't sell promises, but we will extend a legal hand.
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