Electronics protection plans, are they worth it?
April 7, 2017 8:54 AM   Subscribe

So I'm picking up a new, nice, set of headphones that I plan to use daily so they'll be subjected to some abuse. From personal experience, after about 2nd year something goes wrong no matter how careful I am. It seems like extended protection might be a good idea. Is it?

From my brief reading there seem to be two types of protection plans:

- apple care that charges you a small up front fee, and then a deductible in case something goes wrong. This makes sense to me since it prevents outright abuse.
- walmart style protection plans that charge you a lot up front with no deductible and then hassle you when things go wrong. This is the style that I'd definitely like to avoid.

So my questions:

Is it worth getting one for headphones in the $400 range? Is there a good vendor you can recommend in Canada? I'm looking at Canopy electronics via amazon.ca.
posted by aeighty to Technology (8 answers total)
Depends on the brand. If you're getting Sennheiser or Etymotic or similar they have solid repair departments that will repair your headphones for a reasonable price, I would skip the warranty. If it's some kind of bluetooth headphones with batteries I would get a warranty because the battery is not going to last 3 years (though I'm not sure any bluetooth headphones sound good enough to warrant spending hundreds of dollars).
posted by gregr at 9:43 AM on April 7

Keep in mind that these plans rarely cover what they'll call "normal wear and tear" or damage caused by the user (though I see Canopy claims to cover at least some damage caused by the former). After two years, they're very liable to say that the damage is your fault.

Also, the warranty may run concurrent with the manufacturer's warranty, giving you a shorter coverage period than you expect.

Basically, the only electronics device I've ever seen be worth an extended warranty is a laptop--because they are expensive, because you tend to depend on them, and because they get banged about quite a bit.
posted by praemunire at 9:44 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]

For reference, I'm getting Bose Quiet Comfort 35s.
posted by aeighty at 9:53 AM on April 7

The only warranties I ever get are for laptops. I wouldn't bother, but I also wouldn't spend anywhere near $400 on headphones.

It might be worth it for you, depending on the cost of the warranty and deductible. If the total of that is $100 or less for 3 years on a $400 pair you absolutely love, then that's not a terrible investment. 2 years is cutting it close to your typical lifetime and I don't think that would be worth it.
posted by blackzinfandel at 11:54 AM on April 7

What's your definition of "worth it"?

Purely from a monetary standpont, extended warranties and protection plans can never provide a positive expected value for consumers in aggregate. If they did, the plan providers would immediately go out of business because their expenditures would exceed their revenues. Such companies employee a lot of people to insure (pun intended) that doesn't happen. They do so by limiting coverage to less than they imply to you is actually covered (ie, the "fine print") and by finding any reason possible to deny claims.

That said, that doesn't suggest anything about your individual situation.

Are you, for instance, more prone to losing your electronics than the average person? That might suggest the plan might be worth it for you (if accidental loss is covered). Algernatively, are you more or less likely than the average person to pursue a claim, possibly to the point of suing the plan provider if they don't cover your claim?

If you are just looking at the plan to cover the headphones failing due to component failure, then I would definitely suggest not getting the plan - the provider has a lot of data about failure rates and will make sure they come out on top.

As a general comment, these sorts of plans are fundamentally a way of paying someone else to cover your risk. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that other person expects profit from the transaction. Unless you have some reason to believe you are different than the typical customer, you might as well just cover the cost of a potential loss yourself and save yourself some money.
posted by saeculorum at 5:40 PM on April 7

Koss warranties their stuff for life, just FYI. If you buy the Boses and pay with American Express, I believe they extend the warranty up to two years total. Other cards may do that as well.
posted by Slinga at 2:45 AM on April 8

Not worth it. I used to sell them and they do have some value on electronics with moving parts I doubt there would be much value with a set of headphones.
posted by Che boludo! at 4:17 PM on April 10

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