A day in the life of capitalist consumption: the extended warranty

A beautiful sunny day and with my internet service completely unstable I decided to take a walk up to the bench beside my local public library and hook-up to the library’s free wireless service (shh do not tell the economists or they will have us paying user fees). So there I sat basking in the glowing sun checking my email, surfing the web, while composing a missive to my internet service provider somewhere along the lines of:

Dear Sir,

I wish to remain a costumer of your company however you have not resolved the problem after three weeks and unfortunately the definition of a consumer is someone who consumes a good or service. In short if I cannot consume I cannot remain your customer.

Just as I was composing the above missive I received a call on my cell phone. Hoping it was someone I wanted to talk to (which I cannot verify because the external call display ceased functioning a while back) I answered the phone. And alas it was a rather friendly chap from Gears (actually it rhymes with Gears). The chap from Gears wanted to inform me that the washing machine I bought from them nearly a year ago was coming off warranty at the end of April and did I want to buy an extended warranty.

I asked the fellow: “do you know something I do not?”

To which he responded: “I do not follow.”

So I asked fellow:

“What is the track record of these machines, as in, what percentage break after the first year?”

He said: “I do not know.”

To which I responded:

“Then how can I make an informed decision about whether or not I need (and I said lets be clear here) insurance?”

I then further asked:

“Surely the accountants at Gears are tracking all this information otherwise they would not know how to price these insurance packages.”

He responded:

“I am pretty sure somebody above me knows but that is not information that is given to me or the other client service agents”

To which I asked:

“How can you be my service agent if you cannot tell me what kind of I risk I may be insuring myself against?”

He responded:

“you are not going to buy the extended warranty are you?”

To which I said:

“No, but if the machine breaks one month after the warranty expires I will not buy anything from Gears again.”

He replied that a lot of people say that.

I suppose originality is for kings and children.

3 thoughts on “A day in the life of capitalist consumption: the extended warranty

  1. It’s funny to see that how, when you demonstrate interest in something, people truly believe that you are “positively interested”.
    I had the same reaction after visiting the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City with two fellow physicist (including Proulx). After two hours of uninterrupted questions from the three sceptics, the young Mormon guide asked, like the Gears guy:
    “you are not going to become a Mormon are you?”

    By the way, when you buy at Puture shop an “so important extended warranty you cannot live without”, 50% of the fees are a direct commission to the salesman.

  2. I suspect Gears makes a fortune off their warranty business. My other favorite is credit card companies trying to get me to buy insurance in case of an accident or death. Why should I pay to insure them against their risk? And if I did buy insurance from them to insure them against the risk of default then they should lower my interest rate because by definition I am a less risky class of borrower because I am insured.

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