Finding the Best Laptop Warranty: Manufacturer vs. Third Party

Finding the Best Laptop Warranty: Manufacturer vs. Third Party
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Choosing the Best Laptop Warranty

Although laptops are becoming less expensive by the year, most of them remain pricey. Spending 600 dollars on a laptop is no small investment for most consumers, and most conusmers usually purchase with the hope that their laptop will last three years or more. As explained in our laptop reliability review, however, that doesn’t always happen.

In this article we’ll first take a look at manufacturer warranties. Then, we’ll consider third-party extended warranties, and try to decide if they’re worth your money.

Manufacturer Warranties

All laptops ship with a warranty provided by the manufacturer. The warranty is usually called a “limited warranty” which, in practice, means that the manufacturer will only cover serious issues that are caused by a manufacturer defect. For example, Toshiba will cover the replacement of your hard drive because it no longer boots, but they won’t replace the lid of your laptop because of a small scratch.

It’s important to read your warranty and understand what it does and doesn’t cover. The core rule is that manufacturer defects are covered, but everything is slightly different from one manufacturer to the next. For example, some manufacturers warranty repair parts for longer than others. Although your warranty information is available in your laptop’s packaging, you can check out the warranty before making a purchase by going to the company’s website. I highly recommend that you do this before buying any laptop.

Besides the terms of the warranty, you should also consider the length. Most laptops come with a 1-year warranty, but not all of them do. For example, some Dell and Toshiba laptops come with 3-year standard warranties, and many ASUS laptops come with a 2-year warranty. You should always check the warranty length of laptops you’re considering because, in some cases, the longer warranty can make a more expensive laptop a better value.

Third Party Extended Warranties

If you’ve bought a laptop, desktop, HDTV, or even video game at a major electronics retailer lately, you were probably hit up with an offer for a replacement plan. These extended warranties usually cost about 1/5 to 1/4 the total price of the product, and they’re often sold on the promise that you’ll be protected from both accidental damage and manufacturer defects.

For those who are leery about spending a lot of dough on a laptop, these offers sound great. But in fact, they’re often a raw deal.

A warranty is nothing more than a promise made by a company to a consumer - but promises can be broken, or they can be worked around. In a perfect world, making a warranty claim would be as simple as calling up the company you bought the warranty from, telling them there was a problem, and having them immediately issue a repair, a new product, or a refund. Unfortunately, the process of making an extended warranty claim sometimes turns into a battle.

This is particularly true with extended warranties offered directly from retailers. The retailers offer those warranties to improve their profit margins, and have little interest in providing great warranty service. For example, Best Buy denied a warranty claim on an accidental protection plan when a laptop was dropped into a pool. Apparently, the accidental damage from handling warranty only covers normal accidents - whatever those are. Definitively not the best Laptop warranty!

If you do want some form of extended warranty, you should look into buying it from a company that is no involved in the purchasing process, such as SquareTrade. Extended warranties direct from the manufacturer, such as AppleCare, are also relatively painless. The best laptop warranty is that which suits your need at affordable costs!


Best Buy: Best Buy Forums

SquareTrade: Laptop Reliability Report

Switched: Should You Get An Extended Warranty?