Stove Service Contract

If an appliance breaks, chances are you go out and buy a new one. A Central Toledo woman paid extra for a service contract to cover repairs if her stove broke. But she had to make a Call for Action when the company refused to honor a clause in that contract.

Reporter Kevin Milliken says the dispute centered around a replacement guarantee.

Montgomery Ward promises to replace an appliance free of charge if the company's repair staff cannot fix the old one. The department store chain wanted Evelyn Lawrence to pick up part of the cost of a new stove, when she had renewed her service contract faithfully for 14 years.

Evelyn loves to cook and says her old stove was like part of the family. "I cook all the time.  I spend most of my time in two places-- one in the kitchen, the other in the basement washing,"  Evelyn jokes.

Evelyn especially loves to cook for her family, whose pictures cover just about every wall in her home. Evelyn's cooking is the centerpiece of most Sunday family gatherings. "Most of the time you don't even invite. You look up and they're coming in the back door, or they'll call and say 'What's for dinner?' and you tell them and they're here," Evelyn explains.

When Evelyn's stove broke, she lost a part of her family that's been around for 14 years. She also lost a tool that keeps her husband healthy. He's diabetic and needs to eat on a schedule. "It's very important because he starts to get nervous and then he eats too fast and lots of times he gets sick from it," Evelyn says.

She tried to fall back on her service contract, but Montgomery Ward no longer made a part she needed to make an automatic timer on her oven work. "Yes, it's supposed to be peace of mind to let you know, well if something happens to your stove, your washer, your dryer-- you can call and you can get it repaired."

Montgomery Ward partially followed its replacement guarantee by letting Evelyn pick out a new stove. But the department store only offered to pay $400 toward the cost.  The company expected Evelyn to pay the other $150.

Evelyn has paid for a service contract as long as she had the old stove-- and thought she paid enough. So she made a Call for Action. A CFA volunteer got Montgomery Ward to honor their replacement guarantee-- and pay the entire cost.

Evelyn likes her new stove almost as much as her old one. "I want this one to last 14 years, too," she says.

Evelyn has service contracts for almost all her appliances. Now she questions whether those contracts are worth the extra cost. If you looked at how much she's paid out the last 14 years for her stove service contact, she's essentially bought three new stoves.

Extended warranties and service contracts may be worth the extra cash, in some cases. Some people like the convenience of getting repairs done with one phone call.

Take the time to carefully read the terms before you plunk down any money. Some are very limited. Many new appliances have their own warranties which may cover everything already for the first few months or years.