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Posted: 2:00 p.m. Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clark does not purchase extended warranties

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My wife was doing me a favor the other day and went to a specialty electronics retailer to get some equipment that I use when I do broadcasting for the show from my home. As she's checking out, the salesman asks her how long of a term of extended warranty she wanted on the equipment. (Not if she wants one, but what length of term she wants!)

When my wife declined the offer, the salesperson said, "Clark Howard buys extended warranties. He came in recently and bought a pair of headphones and bought the warranty on them." (No, I didn't!) So my wife said, "Oh, he did, huh?"

So then the man wanted to show her a doctored computer record that supposedly was a bill of sale for me reflecting a purchased extended warranty. The guy had no idea he was speaking to my wife! I really wish she had gone one step further and asked to see it, but she declined again and the whole issue of extended warranties was dropped.

This happens all too often. We had a problem on the show where a major electronics retailer built a false profile of me showing an extended warranty purchase on a TV I did not own. They were using this bogus paperwork to show people to give them the hard sell on extended warranties.

My position on extended warranties remains the same as always. I don't like them and I don't buy them at any store.

When should you buy an extended warranty? Never, ever on appliances or electronics. Salespeople will tell you that an extended warranty "protects your investment." But a TV, a washer or a DVD player is not an investment.

When it comes to homes, I only recommend that sellers of homes might consider buying them as a way to provide confidence on paper about the house to a potential buyer.

The only meaningful exception to my extended warranty rule is on a car. Yet I only suggest you consider a warranty if you know you don't have enough savings to pay for a major component of a car breaking. (If you have the money to pay for a big repair, don't buy that warranty.) And then I only suggest the car manufacturer's own warranty; never buy a third-party auto warranty.

Remember, anytime anybody at any retail store tells you I buy warranties on their products, all you need to remember is they're lying!

Editor's note: This segment originally aired in May 2011.

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