Friday, March 07, 2014

1301 Read the Fine Print... or Else

The service contract for that electronic whatsis you just bought is not worth the paper it’s printed on, and certainly not worth what you paid for it.

Here’s why.  Most electronics come with a one year warranty.  The few that fail are likely to fail within that year.  But most won’t.  If it’s still running right after three months or so, chances are it will continue to chug along more or less properly for a few years.  

These machines have life expectancies, which manufacturers either don’t know or won’t tell you even if they do.

So figure three or four years for a computer, two or three years for a cell phone or a tablet.  If it runs longer, so much the better. But if it doesn’t you’re probably in need of a new one, anyway.

A washer or dryer is different.  There, you have to use your own judgment and, of course, you’ve done your research and know pretty much which brands are trouble and which aren’t.

Back to those electronics.

Read the fine print on the internet, not on the endless pages of blah blah that come packaged with the product.  Why?  Because you can search the document for keywords.

The LA Times recently reported the case of a woman who lost her  cellphone and the insurance company -- a subcontractor of a hateable and hateful carrier would not replace it.

The fine print gives the company the right to renege on what you think of as a pretty simple deal: It breaks, we fix it; it gets stolen, we replace it.

But it’s not that simple.

If the customer had searched the document for the word “coverage” she would have found that she was not in compliance at the time her iPhone was stolen.

The terms of coverage are scattered around the long document and you don’t get a complete picture unless you find every instance of the word.

Also, if you call or write with a question, remember the answer you get from the operator may not be binding.  It doesn’t have to be.

This holds true when calling any company or government agency about anything.

Example:  doing your own taxes?  Have a question for the IRS?  This will take forever. But do it anyway.  Call three different times, preferably on three different days. If all three answers are the same, bingo.  If two of them match and one doesn’t, the two that match probably are correct.  If none of them match, call a fourth time.

To remind:  Any keyword is worth searching… reading and remembering.  There are a lot of those weasel conditions in a lot of the agreements.

Your eyes will glaze over.  But keep a cup of coffee handy, or a piece of chocolate.  Keep the alertness beacon burning, because if it doesn’t, you will.

Shrapnel:  

--Target announces that its chief information officer has decided to resign following the big hoohah about stolen cards and pin numbers. That’s a gentlemen’s agreement… in this case a gentlewoman’s agreement.  No one at that level of corporate hierarchy “decides” to resign without a whole lot of help.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2014

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