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Buying the extended warranty: a good deal, or another scam?

It seems as if any time you buy anything these days, the salesperson gives you the pitch about needing the extended warranty. Your gut feeling tells you that you have to have it. It's not like the technology is understandable in any way, and if it needs to be fixed, you're looking at high fees and maybe days or weeks without your printer. But is the extended warranty really worth the money you are going to spend on it? Buying the extended warranty depends on what kind of printer you are buying and how you are going to use it.

In most cases, printers are relatively inexpensive. Manufacturing companies are practically giving them away as they are counting on you to come back to them to buy the ink and toner cartridges. This is called a "razor and blade" strategy, a reference to razors being sold cheap while replacement blades are through the roof. In a quick search, I found a brand name printer for under $80.00 without looking at discount retailers, coupons, and mail-in rebates. For the seventy-five dollar printer, the company was offering a three year extended warranty.

Here's the rub. at $30.00, the warranty was relatively inexpensive. It offered full service for any manufacturing defects for three years. At $10.00 per year, this seems like a no-hassle bargain. The problem is that for a $75.00 printer, you are spending half the cost again on a warranty. All of the major companies offer 1 year warranties at the time of purchase, and if you look at the extended warranty on this companies website, you will notice that the three year warranty is from the time of purchase. This means that the three year warranty is now a two year warranty.

Not only that, but the warranty doesn't cover any accidental damage done to the printer, or problems because of "improper use." As they are the technicians, they get to determine what "improper use" is and because most of us aren't that technologically savvy, they can pull one over on us fairly quickly. If you are buying an inexpensive computer (see under $100.00) it's probably more cost effective to skip the warranty. Chances are, any manufacturing defects will reveal themselves well before the original manufacturer's warranty is up. Any problems after that may be a result of improper care and maintenance. You will probably be able to take care of any problems by buying a cleaning solution and keeping up a maintenance routine.

If, however, you are buying anything over $100 then it seems like a no-brainer. Your printer switches from being a purchase to an investment. Most people spending that kind of money on a printer are probably using it heavily and repurchasing a similar printer can put a large dent in your printing costs. Spending the extra $30 when you have already spent between $100 to a $1000 can be very damaging to the bottom line.

Buying a printer can be expensive in more ways than one. Spending extra on inkjet cartridges and toner cartridges as well as the extended warranty can make a cheap printer very expensive very fast. Make sure you evaluate the risks, usage, and gain by buying the right priced printer and the right accessories to give yourself the best return on your investment.