The Federal Trade Commission offers the following advice when choosing a warranty:
Although not required by law, written warranties come with most major purchases. When comparing written warranties, keep the following in mind:
* How long does the warranty last? Check the warranty to see when it begins and when it expires, as well as any conditions that may void coverage.
* Who do you contact to get warranty service? It may be the seller or the manufacturer who provides you with service.
* What will the company do if the product fails? Read to see whether the company will repair the item, replace it, or refund your money.
* What parts and repair problems are covered? Check to see if any parts of the product or types of repair problems are excluded from coverage. For example, some warranties require you to pay for labor charges. Also, look for conditions that could prove expensive or inconvenient, such as a requirement that you ship a heavy object to a factory for service, or that you return the item in the original carton.
* Does the warranty cover "consequential damages?" Many warranties do not cover damages caused by the product, or your time and expense in getting the damage repaired. For example, if your freezer breaks and the food spoils, the company will not pay for the lost food.
* Are there any conditions or limitations on the warranty? Some warranties provide coverage only if you maintain or use the product as directed. For example, a warranty may cover only personal uses?as opposed to business uses?of the product. Make sure the warranty will meet your needs.
For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission's entire publication at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/products/warrant.htm.