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July 23, 2018

Even Our Readers Get Tripped Up by the Fine Print

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:42 am

Mouse Print* readers are a savvy bunch, but even the best of them may get caught by surprise by the fine print they find after making a purchase.

Tom B., who is a professional landscape contractor, recently was looking for a good quality garden hose nozzle for a commercial customer. He thought he found the perfect product — a Gilmour professional nozzle, with a lifetime warranty and tested to a pressure of 250 pounds per square inch:

Gilmour nozzle

Our landscaper became disenchanted after trying it, and discovering the fine print on the back of the package.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Gilmour nozzle warning

Although the nozzle is tested to withstand pressures of up to 250 PSI, the company warns users not to subject it to pressures over 60 PSI.



About six months ago, Tony P. bought a MacBook Air from Micro Center and was convinced to buy an extended warranty for $79, being told it would “cover everything” for a year.

Sure enough, a couple of keys came loose from the keyboard last month and he couldn’t re-attach them. So, Tony went back to the store, expecting a quick fix. Instead he was told that Apple requires them to replace the entire keyboard. What really upset him was that the cost of the repair — $280 — would be deducted from the total dollar amount of repairs he is entitled to under his contract. Huh? This is the first time Tony is told there is limit on repairs, and he was never given a copy of the actual extended warranty when he bought the laptop.

Sure enough, in the terms and conditions statement of his service contract, there is language to limit the issuer’s liability to the price of the computer purchased:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Administrator may elect, at Administrator option, to buyout the Service Contract during the coverage term for the lesser of (I) current market value of a Covered Product with equivalent specifications or (II) purchase price of Your Covered Product minus sales tax and claims paid.

Who would ever suspect there was a clause allowing the provider to get out of all future liability when they have paid for repairs equal to the purchase price? (If this were challenged in court, it is unclear if a judge would even enforce this clause.)

Our consumer was advised to buy the missing two keys online for about $15 and save the benefits of his plan for a more serious repair.


If you come across a nasty bit of fine print in an advertisement, product label, or contract, please let us know.

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4 Comments

  1. I didn’t consider this predicament in the past. A manufacturer can avoid lots of requested warranty repairs by claiming that the repairs are more expensive than needed.

    Not many people are going to want to repair an entire keyboard for $280, when replacing a couple keys only costs $15. Everybody wanting to make a claim will wait for the worst case scenario to repair anything, which is likely what the manufacturer wants.

    Comment by Wayne — July 23, 2018 @ 10:02 am
  2. I’ve been owner of Apple Products for years. And the add Apple-care service is worth the money If on a new product it’s for three years and the will repair or replace defective product. You “might” subject to the cost of shipping to repair station if you are too far away from the store. It is obvious that the person Bought product from a Third party that most likely sales discontinued items. Apple has no control such third parties.

    Also, Apple sales older products, or products that were returned and repaired and re-certified., The Warranted depends on product on Computers it is usually 1 year Parts /90 days Labor. If recently discontinued the Applecare will be for the full Applecare period in effect before discontinued.

    Comment by Phil Jones — July 23, 2018 @ 12:50 pm
  3. I’ve seen clauses like that in extended warranties before that limit total payout to the original price of the item. I always check for it if I am considering something like that. It was a brilliant idea for the company, but terrible for the consumer. The consumer just wants peace of mind for the duration of the contract.

    Comment by MarcK1024 — July 29, 2018 @ 8:19 am
  4. SquareTrade plans (I don’t think they deserve to be called warranties) work like this.

    Comment by Sciquest — August 11, 2018 @ 8:37 pm

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