Like a lot of people, I kind of consider most netbook warranties to be unimportant. Sure, most netbooks comes with a limited protection plan good for somewhere between 30 days and a year. But I can’t imaging paying $70 or more to extend the protection on a laptop that I bought for $300. If you plan on keeping the netbook for a few years and it does break, it might almost be cheaper to buy a new one than to pay for a long-term protection plan.
That said, many PC makers and retailers do offer extended service plans for netbooks. And it would be nice if their terms were easy to understand and enforce. One Best Buy customer sent in a horror story to The Consumerist today, detailing his frustration with an $80 protection plan he purchased for his netbook.
Long story short, the touchpad and power adapter stopped working and he wanted Best Buy’s Geek Squad to fix it. They refused, saying that the warranty had been voided when he wiped Windows and installed Linux on his netbook. While I could certainly see a Linux distribution causing problems with a touchpad if the proper drivers are absent, I don’t know of any situation where a change in software would make the power supply stop working.
What’s more, when he reinstalled Windows, the touchpad still didn’t work properly.
Ultimately, it looks like this problem may have been confined to a single store, because a call to Best Buy’s customer support elicited a guarantee that another store would allow him to return the computer, and he got a $25 gift card to boot. But that hardly covers the frustration.
It’s also worth noting that some warranties actually may be voided if you install Linux or another operating system.
So, if you’re thinking about investing in an extended warranty, you should probably ask yourself how much effort you’re willing to put into dealing with tech support or customer service folks.
Of course, maybe I’m just being cynical. What have your experiences with extended warranties been like? Sound off in the comments.