7 On Your Side: Extended Warranties

Aaron Aycock of Longview is expecting his third child. To keep in touch with his wife, he bought two new cell phones from the Best Buy in Longview. It was followed by the extended warranty sales pitch. "She told me it did not matter what happened. Bring the phone back, there shouldn't be any problems and we'll take care of getting you another phone or getting you a replacement," says Aaron.

Less than a year later, the external display on one of Aaron's phones stopped working. So Aaron says he did as he was told and took the phone back to the store. "She pulled up all the information and said 'Hhmm... P.S.P. Plan' and I was like 'What does that mean?' and she said 'P.S.P. Plan means that it's not a replacement plan warranty deal' and the lady that sold me the phone said it would be no problem at all, they would replace the phone." Aaron says Best Buy then told him to called the manufacturer directly to get the phone fixed. But that could mean an extra $215 charge if they found significant physical damage to the phone. So Aaron called the Best Buy store manager, who said if the store replaced the phone Best Buy would cancel the rest of his warranty. "He wasn't going to give me my money back," says Aaron. "He was just going to give me a new phone and void the rest of my warranty."

So why the sudden change of tune? I went to the Longview store with a hidden microphone to see how workers are pitching the warranty to potential customers like me:

Sales rep: "... Come in and we'll fix it for you...." Christine: "Just fix it?" Sales rep: "Yeah." Christine: "Or replace it?" Sales rep: "Yeah." Christine: "You sure about that?" Sales rep: "Positive." Christine: "Because I know someone whose phone did that." Sales rep: "They bought it from us?" Christine: "They bought it from here. And you all didn't replace it."

I was then referred to an in-store customer service rep who told me I don't bring it in, I now have to call Best Buy's national service line to get a broken phone replaced:

Christine: "Now I have to call a 1-800 number?" Cust. Service rep: "Yes, because it's the same people." Christine: "Because I think you guys are still pitching that you bring it back here when that's really not the case." Cust. Service rep: "Like I said I apologize on that part--I don't know on that, I'm not over there. I don't know."

At this point, Aaron knows he won't be doing business at Best Buy in Longview and sees this as a lesson learned. "I hope that other people understand that warranty ain't all it's supposed to be. They really need to check into it really good before they decide to spend the extra money on it."

We talked to Best Buy's corporate office. A member of the Executive Resolutions Team says he will be contacting Aaron directly and if the phone is defective he'll work to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com