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Consumer Confidential: Are extended warranties worth it? Not so much, experts say

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Consumers generally don't need extended warranties.

"They are cash cows for retailers," said Linda Sherry, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Consumer Action. "Salespeople get commissions, which is why they push them so hard."

But that doesn't mean you want to dismiss the idea of purchasing extra protection in all cases.

A tipster working in the eyewear industry contacted me the other day to warn that the $35 extended warranties sold by LensCrafters, Target Optical, Pearle Vision and other chains owned by glasses behemoth EssilorLuxottica are a waste of money.

"The breakage warranties that are being sold to patients of stores owned by Luxottica are a huge rip-off," the tipster said. "Every eyewear lab offers one free remake to the stores. Therefore, the $35 being charged to patients is simply money in Luxottica's corporate pocket."

That's not the whole story, though.

 

I contacted a half-dozen optical labs throughout Southern California, and each said they stand behind their lenses for at least a year, often two. So if a coating starts peeling off within a few months, most labs will fix it free of charge.

Moreover, Jane Lehman, a Luxottica spokeswoman, acknowledged that frames sold by the company's eyewear chains automatically come with a two-year limited warranty covering "manufacturer defects," which means if there's anything wrong, they'll get fixed or replaced.

So what do you get for that extra $35?

A Luxottica rep explained to me that the company's 12-month extended warranties cover normal wear and tear for frames and lenses, not just manufacturers' defects. So if your lenses get all scratched, the added coverage should cover replacement.

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