Get Jesse: Do you need extra coverage for electronics purchases?



Posted on November 18, 2009 at 12:37 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 19 at 12:38 PM

'Tis the season for shoppers looking to buy big ticket items, Laptop computers, TV's, and even iPods.

They cost hundreds of dollars, and they're expected to be big sellers.

"We prep all year for this holiday season," said Tukwila Best Buy manager Wesley Ho.

His store is among other retailers that offer what's called extended service contracts. For more money, your big purchase will be covered if it breaks far beyond the warranty offered by the manufacturer.

"This service plan will actually cover you for four years, so if anything goes wrong you can bring it back to a store or we can have a Geek Squad technician come to your house and take a look at it."

No matter at what store you end up buying electronics this holiday season, the Attorney General's Office sees a spike in extended warranty complaints a few months later.

Sean Beary compiles the data for the AG's office. Speaking generally, most of the complaints come from consumers who didn't know what these warranties covered.

"Consumers are buying these extended service contracts with the thought that it's going to cover any and everything that may happen," he said.

Before you hand over any money, ask these three questions:

-If anything breaks, what's covered and what isn't covered?

-How much more is going to cost me?

-What would repairs cost out of pocket?

According to Consumer Reports, gadgets in their first four years of life don't need repairs much at all. So Beary suggests you think about it this way: The money you spend for extended service contract is for your piece of mind.

"In many ways it's like insurance, but where you pay for it and hopefully you don't have to use it," he said.

Before you hit the stores, check with your credit card company. Some issuers offer additional warranty protection at no extra costs.

For consumer concerns, e-mail Jesse to or call toll-free 877-51-JESSE. Follow him on Twitter at