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Avoid worthless warranties this Christmas

Which? finds cover costing half the goods' price

Which? has uncovered unnecessary breakdown cover on electrical goods that costs more than half the price of the appliance itself.

In one example we found, a Kenwood smoothie maker was being sold for £17.50 – and a three-year extended warranty for it was £14.

Worthless warranties?

This table below shows some warranties we found on electrical goods alongside our verdict including, where available, the Which? reliability rating for the manufacturer.


Extended warranties from different retailers
Store Product and warranty Our verdict
Argos Sony DVPNS15 DVD player £45.
Three year cover £25.
Sony DVD player
At over half the cost of the player, this cover isn’t worth it, seeing as Sony DVD players achieve a 97% reliability rating in our survey.
Argos Philips HR1851 juice extractor. Sale price £24.99.
Three year cover £9.99.
phillips HR1851 juicer
Paying over a third again for the cover isn’t a good deal.
Argos Braun Satinpro
hairdryer SP2200 £23.99.
Three year cover £4.99.
braun hairdryer
The product already comes with a two-year manufacturer’s guarantee, so rely on that if things go wrong.
Dixons Creative Zen Stone 1GB
MP3 player £23.
Three year cover £9.99.
Creative zen stone 1GB
This cover costing nearly half as much as the player isn’t worth it as our reliability rating for Creative MP3s is 93%.
Homebase Homebase Clear Multi Effect Christmas Lights – 150 £9.99.
Three year cover £2.99.
Homebase christmas lights
Ask yourself whether you need breakdown cover on a £10 set of seasonal lights.
John Lewis Pure One Portable
DAB digital radio £49.50.
Extend warranty to
three years for £20.
Pure digital radio
The radio comes with a free two-year guarantee and our research shows that the maker of this Best Buy digital radio scores high in our reliability ratings.
Littlewoods direct Kenwood SB256
smoothie maker £19.
Three year cover £14.
kenwood smoothie maker
At over 70% of the reduced price, our advice is to bypass this insurance.

Table notes

Warranties sold online, except Homebase example which was found in store.
All prices correct online at 6 December 2007.



Faulty goods: your rights

It’s estimated that around £900 million worth of extended warranties are sold to consumers each year, but you already have rights which mean that, in some cases, stores should repair faulty goods, even after 12 months, when the extended warranty cover would start.

Generally, the more you spend, the longer you can expect the item to last. To find out more about your rights, see our sections on , and .

Stores sell policies as ‘peace of mind’, but our advice is to think twice about the cost of this.

Prices for fridges, washing machines, TVs and stereos are falling – so a new one might end up costing little more than the warranty – and product reliability is increasing – so you’re less likely to need cover.

Rights ‘don’t end with guarantee’

Which? Legal Service lawyer Peter McCarthy said: ‘Don’t let a seller have you believe that your legal rights end with the guarantee. The seller will be liable if the goods it sold you aren’t of satisfactory quality.

‘In practice the test is how long could you reasonably expect the product to last before it developed that particular fault. A court would consider among other things, the type of product, the price paid and the amount of usage.

‘If the fault has developed too soon then you could hold the seller in breach of contract. But buying a reliable brand in the first place is your best bet.’

Cancelling warranties

If you have recently bought an extended warranty on an electrical item you have 45 days to cancel it so you could still be in time to get your money back.

If 45 days have passed, you’re still entitled to a refund on the unexpired portion of the warranty.

Littlewoods’ response

We asked Littlewoodsdirect about its £14 warranty on a £17.50 smoothie maker.

A spokeswoman said: ‘The warranty price for the smoothie maker might appear somewhat excessive for a product of £17.50, but the price of the smoothie maker is normally £40 and is only temporarily on sale and will be going back to its original price shortly.

‘The £14 warranty is reasonable considering it is in fact for a £40 smoothie maker. The warranty also entitles the customer to a new product if there are any problems rather than just repairing the problem.’

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