“Extended warranties” have a bad rep in retail. In large part because they are pushed by cashiers and sales persons who earn a commission selling them. But they do actually have a purpose. Though anymore, they aren’t called “extended warranties”, but “protection plans”.
Often what creates the bad taste in people’s mouths about these plans is the fact that taking advantage of one can be difficult. And which option you have is entirely up to the retailer selling you the item on which they’re also trying to sell the protection plan. Things have, thankfully, gotten a lot easier. But you still need to be vigilant to protect your consumer rights.
As I’ve detailed on a couple articles on this blog, I’m a photographer. And two years ago I treated myself to a new Nikon Z5 mirrorless camera as an upgrade to my D7200 DSLR. This past summer I also purchased an electric scooter to take some of the burden off my vehicle for maneuvering around to find shots to take around town.
On Sept 24, I was heading out on the scooter when I hit a bump and went down. And my Z5 went down with me. The lens, thankfully, is fine and still working. The Z5, however, showed an error on the screen: “Press shutter-release button to reset.” Except pressing the shutter release did nothing.
When I bought the Z5 from Adorama, I bought a protection plan with it. The plan went through New Leaf Service Contracts, LLC. (All plans Adorama currently sells now go through Extend.) I filed the claim online that same day, providing some basic details of what happened. In the mean time, I also looked at other repair options, including sending it directly to Nikon. (Which would’ve been $400 up front, possibly more later depending on what they found.)
New Leaf called me the following Monday to discuss the claim and get some additional details. About an hour later, I got a follow-up voice mail saying they were denying the claim because the camera was not “properly secured”.
I tried calling back the same day, but I was told the claim was denied by a manager, so I’d need to speak to a manager, but none were at the office at the time. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to call back in during the needed hours. The initial email I received when the claim was approved included a follow-up email address, so I sent this message to that email:
I intended to call in about this to speak to a manager but didn’t have the time today, unfortunately. I received a voice mail yesterday late afternoon informing me this claim had been rejected. According to the voice mail, it was due to my camera not being “properly secured” at the time the drop occurred.
I cannot recall exactly what I said over the phone, but I do not recall being asked whether I had the camera secured in any fashion, and how it was secured if I did. Nor do I recall giving any details of such. I want to clarify that I had the camera secured on a cross-body strap. And a cross-body camera strap is a common means of carrying around a camera. Again, I do not recall ever being asked whether or how I had the camera secured, so hopefully this provides some clarification.
Please re-open this claim in light of this information.
That went on Sept 27.
There is an exception in the coverage policy for “mishandling”, which is understandable. The protection plan covers accidental damage to the camera, and I have the same protection plan over one of my lenses. So clear negligence is not covered, and that’s reasonable.
But as my email above shows, I wasn’t mishandling the camera. And I wasn’t given a chance to say that I had the camera secured let alone how I had the camera secured.
In the interim, I looked at my options for repair, even considering Best Buy’s Geek Squad. And I set up an appointment to drop off the camera body on Sept 30 for mid-afternoon. And who should call about two hours before that appointment? New Leaf.
They re-opened and approved the claim and forwarded everything off to Photo Tech Repair Services. They reached out to me on October 3rd, and I had a shipping label the next day. It went out via FedEx on October 6th and arrived at the repair center the following Monday. Their email said to expect the repairs to take about 2 to 3 weeks, depending on whether they needed to order in parts.
My only complaint with the process was never getting any kind of status update during the repair. No ETA. If they had a page where I could log in and see the repair progress, I was never informed of it. The only indication the repairs were complete came in the form of a FedEx shipping alert the camera was being sent back to me.
So are extended warranties worth it? That really depends on what you’re buying one against and how much it’ll cost to repair versus replace. I say No to a lot of inquiries to purchase repair/replacement plans simply because the device in question is inexpensive to replace.
For expensive electronics, like my aforementioned camera, and major home appliances, they make sense. The repair plan will cost less than the repair cost, especially looking at the quote from Nikon, and it’s certainly far less than the replacement cost.
So in my instance, I definitely came out ahead – once I told the insurance company I wasn’t being cavalier with the camera.