I was the appreciative recipient of a new iPod last week. Yes, Titania, my beloved 20 GB iPod has been retired. Her replacement is a 40 GB third generation iPod. (Haven't thought of a name yet.) I look forward to many hours of listening pleasure. Another wonderful aspect is that the big guy will hold a backup of my computer's entire hard drive easily. As someone who experienced hard drives in the megabytes for laptops, I am greatly impressed by the progress made in just a few years.
But, along with a new electronics acquisition invariably come questions:
•Should I buy a warranty?
•If so, which warranty?
•In regard to cost, how much is too much?
I don't usually buy warranties for small electronics unless they are fragile. Most products will outlive their initial warranties. Or, they will become obsolete and the consumer will want to upgrade. If the item is cheap, I don't mind replacing it after some wear and tear. Selling the warranties, even for as little as $5 each, is pure gravy for the corporations that pocket our money. So, my steam iron and my coffee maker are not under extended warranties. But, my iPod and my PDA are. Both cost $500 and are delicate. So, I believe purchasing an extended warranty is justified.
After meeting my test in regard to whether to buy a warranty, the new iPod raised a second issue. Which warranty should I buy? This was not a question with my first and second generation iPods. Only big box stores offered extended warranties for them back then. So, though I bought the first one at an Apple reseller, I purchased a warranty for it at CompUSA. No, it is not a hassle. You just take the iPod in along with your receipt and say you want to purchase an extended warranty. I purchased mine the same day I bought the iPod, so the box was unopened. But, I am aware of CompUSA selling warranties to people with used iPods bought at other stores. With Titania, since I don't like the Apple reseller I used before all that much, I bought the iPod and the warranty at CompUSA.
However, things have changed. Starting in November of 2003, Apple began offering a warranty for the iPod beyond the three months of coverage that had prevailed previously.
Every iPod comes standard with 90 days of phone support and one year of hardware service coverage. The AppleCare Protection Plan extends your service and support coverage for your iPod, its included accessories, and iTunes software for up to two years from the original purchase date of your iPod. With this plan, you get direct access to Apple experts for answers by phone and anytime access to web-based resources. If your iPod or the included accessories should need service, Apple-certified technicians will repair it or provide a replacement using genuine Apple parts. We recommend that you purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan with your new iPod to take maximum advantage of the coverage the plan provides. This comprehensive plan is available for all iPod models within their one-year limited warranty that connect to either Macintosh computers or Windows PCs.
I've generally gotten a favorable response when I've had problems with electronics covered by CompUSA's Technology Assurance Program (TAP). The store even refunded my money when my NEC subcompact laptop failed a couple years ago. (It took some prodding. Merchants hate to disgorge funds .) So, I was willing to consider TAP, too.
Price can be a factor in selecting a warranty. One reason I recommend eschewing warranties on the small (in price) stuff is because they are often a significant addition to the cost of the item. If I buy an FM transmitter for my iPod for $29.99 and pay $7.99 for an extended warranty, I've significantly raised the cost of an item that will likely be obsolete in less than a year. However, neither Apple Care ($59) nor TAP ($65) coverage of an iPod is particularly expensive.
After thinking through these issues, the deciding factor for me was CompUSA's replacement policy. If the iPod needs a repair within the two years covered, they will simply hand over a new iPod. Apple, on the other hand, will send me a refurbished iPod of the same model if I send in a broken iPod for repair. I would rather have the new one. This same policy applies to another small electronics under TAP. If your PDA or phone fails, it is likely to replaced instead of repaired, too.
There is a rumor afoot, which started at iPod Lounge, that CompUSA no longer offers extended warranty coverage for the iPod.
According to the manager, it seems that they don't offer TAP on iPods anymore.
I brought my iPod in to a customer service counter, and asked about TAP. I showed my PayPal receipt, since I bought it from someone in Boston via eBay. It was dated for September 24th, 2003. I showed her my iPod, and she took it to check the serial number to see if it was under warranty. Turns out the estimated purchase date was 9/4/03. She said I'd be fine, and the 2-year TAP would cost $44.95.