Saturday, December 16, 2006

Extended warranties--sometimes it's worth it

Usually I poo poo the whole extended warranty thing, but in the rare cases I've caved to the extended warranty pitch, I seem to have had the strangest luck with picking the right products. When I bought a brand new NordicTrack Summit 4500X treadmill from Sears a little over 4 years ago, I didn't balk at the extended warranty because unless you think you'll use it a few times then hang laundry from it, that is the exact sort of product that seems like a prime candidate for shelling out for added coverage. If it's a decent brand, they'll usually cover the motor for the life of the product, but there are so many other potential mechanical and electronic failure points on treadmills. The display and controls, the incline motor, the belt rollers, on and on. Now take about 200+ pounds of a slab of pasty beef like me slamming against it for 5+ miles a day several months out of the year, and that treadmill is getting some serious use and abuse.

I figure in the time I've owned my treadmill, I have easily run close to 2,500 miles on it, if not more. So color me impressed that the thing didn't need a warranty repair until about a year ago when the belt started slipping to the point I couldn't tighten it. They came to my house and fixed it, no hassle, no fuss. A little over a month ago, the belt slippage situation happened again. This time the technician informed me he would have to replace the entire belt deck. Yikes! It took a few weeks for the parts to arrive, then a week or two more before he could show up again to make the repair. But he fixed it, and it now works like a champ.

Last Thursday, the day after my last repair appointment, the technician called me to essentially say, "Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you that I noticed your treadmill's frame is cracked. That is not a repairable defect, so I emailed the company, and they will be in touch with you about giving you a new treadmill." Nice!

Tuesday I arrived home to find an UPS express letter from Icon Fitness propped against my front door. It contained the form I would need to request my replacement and a letter explaining that I needed to go to their website, pick a new treadmill from any of their brands, and call them to check the stock before mailing in the form. Ugh...seems very 20th century, but whatever. I was given a budget of 1,499.99 (and I won't be charged tax or shipping and handling), as that is evidently what I paid for the first treadmill (I don't recall paying that much, but I wasn't about to argue).

Since the tread I own is a NordicTrack, and I was quite pleased with it, I decided to go with a another of their models. I went to the website, and they had suggested retail prices and "web only" prices. I wasn't sure which price was going to count against my 1,499.99, so I called the warranty company and left a message (it's nearly impossible to get through to a live operator, even waiting on hold). Last night one of them called me back, and fortunately, it sounds like I can go by the web only price. He also told me that when I picked something out, give him a call, and he'd give his honest opinion on the product. Boosting his credibility, he told me straight out, "Don't bother getting any of the models with a flat panel tv built in. We've had a lot of problems with those." A tv wasn't going to be a selling point, but that was good to know.

Right now, I plan on getting NordicTrack Elite 2900. Retail is $1999, and the web only price is $1499. Perfect! I left a message yesterday for the very helpful Icon Fitness support rep, and he called me back, gave it his thumbs up, and said they have it in stock. I faxed them the form last night and will follow up with a phone call Monday (I faxed them the form via a web to fax service I've never used before, so I want to make sure they got it).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice to know since I was thinking of buying a treadmill (NordicTrack) from Sears tomorrow and also, seems to me that this is the item you want to pay a couple of hundred extra for a warranty.