Extended Warranties: When Do They Start?

Illustration: Harry Campbell
When I recently ordered a Sony VAIO PC online, I also purchased the $150 two-year Extended Service Plan. The fee was promptly charged to my credit card, and I received documentation confirming this plan--but the effective date was the date that I placed my order, not (as the sales rep told me) the day that the computer shipped. I immediately called and was told to call back for a correction when the laptop was delivered. But when it arrived (nearly a month after I'd placed the order), customer service reps said they could not change the coverage date. I believe that Sony has charged me for nearly one month of warranty coverage on a computer I had not yet received.

Alex Demel, Plano, Texas

OYS Responds: Sony officials acknowledge that Demel's warranty coverage should not have started the day he ordered the PC; normally coverage begins when a product actually ships, in order to protect it while it's in transit.

Demel's VAIO shipped three weeks after he placed his order, so his complaint that he was being shorted on warranty coverage was valid. After we contacted Sony, the company changed the warranty start date to the day that Demel's system was delivered.

Sony is not alone in starting warranty coverage when a PC ordered by phone or online ships: Dell says its policy is essentially the same. Hewlett-Packard, however, says its warranty coverage begins when the customer receives the PC. In any event, if you notice a discrepancy in coverage dates, be sure to insist on speaking with a supervisor.

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