What Do You Do With Your Warranty Cards?

Packaged with just about every product you buy is a warranty/registration card. Manufacturers ask that you send every one of them in or go to their website and give them your information. From time to time we may need to have our equipment repaired under warranty. But we often find outselves hesitant to fill out those warranty/registration cards for several reason. It feels so much like a nuisance and consumer groups feel that once this private information is out there prying eyes can access it. There’s also the chance that if the registration list is sold or exchanged other parties will begin using any and all information for their purposes by filling up e-mail boxes with so-called “spam.” So, are there benefits by sending in this card?

The most popular reasons for sending in warranty cards include:

1. If there’s ever a product recall you will be contacted with instructions on what to do next. But, realistically, when was the last time a recall happened to you? As far as digital cameras, printers and small consumer electronic devices go I can’t think of any. On the flip side, within the past 20 years automobiles that I have owned have fallen into recall territory. And, at times like these it was a comfort to be contacted.

2. Retailers keep a computerized record of the your product and purchase date. The clock begins to count down on your warranty. If anything goes wrong there’s a record of it somewhere in their computers. It means less work for you should a physical repair be necessary.

3. Demographic information is of great value to these companies. For them to know where you live, where the product was purchased, what your estimated income is, and all the other juicy information about you can be of great value in preparing a company’s future products. If they see a certain chain store is selling more of XYZ products then they may concentrate on either helping them grow even more. Or, they may begin helping those that aren’t moving as much product. Advertising may also be slanted to appeal to the biggest money-spending sector. And, so on.

4. But, you don’t need to have sent a warranty/registration card to have something repaired. Yet, you must be prepared in order to take it to the next level should anything serious go wrong. If a warranty card has been previously sent in you’re set. However, if you didn’t it’s going to require that you make a copy of your Bill of Sale indicating that the product falls within the designated warranty period. This must be included when you either take it or send your product in for repair. Sometimes a phone call to the manufacturer is required in order to obtain an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) number that is printed on the outside of the return box. All of this requires that you have an efficient system for filing and retrieving these things.

To Repair Or Not Repair

Ask yourself if it’s worth repairing. You’ll have to drive the camera or printer to a repair facility or mail it in. You’ve got gasoline expenses, postage/shipping, and your time. Then, there’s the wait factor. Can you do without your gear for 2-4 weeks or longer? If your digital camera or pinter cost $100 three years ago you might just call it a day and begin looking for a replacement knowing that there is possibly a better value out there attached with a brand new warranty.
[Sidebar: Some companies provide complete coverage against everything but abuse for 90 days. (Statistically speaking most products will fail within the first 30 days.) For the remaining 9 months labor charges are absorbed by the consumer. This kind of warranty can get to be expensive! And, on top of this asking for an estimate could cost you upwards of a non-refundable $40! Recalls, however, are generally not affected by your a product that may even have an expired warranty.]
The Tape Technique


One process is to take the sales receipt and tape it to either the box it came in or to the owner’s manual. Some people collect all owner’s manuals and keep them in one big 2 1/2 gallon zippered plastic bag making any quickly accessible.
Whenever I ever feel the need to send in the registration/warranty card I only include the information shown below. Why include anything else since this is all that’s legally required to do this?
[Yes, you might be able to do this online using their website or via a software registration page that activates upon the first use of the program. These may help you in elminating part of the headache. But, these guys can be tricky. They like to add data fields that if you don't put information in them you can't proceed without filling out the form. As much as I hate to admit it I will more times than not fabricate responses surrounding topics of income, hobbies, marriage status, and so on.]

The Only Information They Really Need From You

Name
Address
Contact Information
Product Information — If requested.

What Can Companies Do To Encourage Consumers to Send in Warranty Information?

One manufacturer upgraded a standard 12 month warranty to a full 36 months. Isn’t this an enticing way to get consumers to send them in. And, they get something beneficial out of it? Certainly, it would be nice if others followed this example.

Finally…

In the end a warranty/registration card’s worth may be placed on the reliability of the product itself.