Protection Plans

Retail

Perhaps nothing is more upsetting than purchasing a brand new item, using it a few times, and then having it break on you. Product warranties being what they are, manufacturers often will not cover typical wear and tear on an item, stating that "user error" caused the malfunction, instead of an innate flaw in their product, and more often than not, you’ll be out the money you dropped on your toy/TV/laptop or other electronic item. What can you do to prevent such things from happening? Protection plans, or warranties that companies and stores offer on products like gaming systems, DVDs, iPods, and electronics may be the answer.

Many times when you buy an expensive item, some type of product warranty is available for it for a nominal fee. Exactly what is covered depends on the company and the type of warranty they offer. For example, the protection plan may cover simple repairs, or it may be a comprehensive replacement package. Generally speaking, the more complete the coverage, the more expensive the additional protection will be.

Toys R Us offers two types of protection plans; a repair plan for items such as DVDs, CDs, games, and other less expensive items (you send the item to the approved repair shop, and it'll either be fixed or replaced completely), and a more comprehensive Accidental Damage Care Plan for items such as game consoles, carseats, iPods, and Karaoke machines. The accidental damage plans cover much more than typical factory warranties, including average wear and tear, and generally extend the life of products for far longer than normal manufacturer warranties. The Toys R Us iPod plan lasts for 15 months, three months longer than Apple's own warranty, and covers every type of damage except loss or theft. Apple's warranty doesn't cover wear and tear, and will only fix the item if it is deemed defective within one year of purchase.  A day beyond that and you are expected to replace the item at your own expense.

The prices of such protection plans range from a modest few dollars, to a hefty fifty or sixty dollars. The charge for most protection plans is often based on the initial cost of the item you are purchasing. So a $200 Wii might cost $35 to protect, but a $20 game would only cost $3.99. The plans also vary in cost depending on what type of product you purchase, and the odds that the item will incur damage within the covered time frame.  Children's toys and games may cost a bit more to protect, as they tend to be rougher on their belongings and it is likely that the company offering the protection plan will have to replace or repair the item.

Is it worth it to purchase a protection plan for some of your items? The answer depends on several circumstances such as how often you think the product will be used, who will own it, and where it will be used.  It's probably not as important to protect CDs and DVDs considering replacement cost, and the fact that you can take the data from those and store it on your computer, effectively nullifying the usefulness of a replacement plan. However an XBOX 360 or stroller are much more expensive to replace or duplicate, so paying $30 to secure the items’ well being for two years might just be worth it. In the end the choice is up to you, but be sure you know what type of plans are offered and what each plan actually covers so that you may make an educated decision.