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Family’s frustration over broken fridge leads to questions about extended warranties

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- A family paid the extra $500 for a three year extended warranty on their fridge, but getting a replacement after technicians couldn't fix it turned out to be more difficult than they expected.

Colleen Arvai said a technician has been out to her home nine times over the past year to try to fix the water and ice dispenser. She can live with it, buying bags of ice instead, but by the time she contacted FOX59 Arvai said she had become frustrated.

"It was so many times we would have to take off of work and you know, be here, four hour window, whatever. ... They would replace the part and it would still not work, replace the part and still not work," Arvai said.

Arvai started reading the fine print in her extended warranty and it said four repair attempts in the same year should trigger a replacement, but she struggled to get a customer service representative with the warranty company to authorize a new fridge.

"We’ve been more than patient, we’ve had the guy out so many times. We’re not asking for the moon, we’re just asking for either fix it or honor the agreement and give us a new refrigerator," Arvai said.

FOX59 reached out to Sears, where Arvai bought the refrigerator and extended warranty, and the company quickly took action.

"At Sears, the satisfaction of our members is our top priority. We have authorized Ms. Arvai for a replacement refrigerator, and we are just awaiting her selection of a new model. We are pleased to assist her with that process and hope she remains a loyal Sears customer and Shop Your Way member," Public Relations Director Larry Costello said in a statement.

Expert opinions differ on whether paying extra for an extended warranty is worth the money. Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana CEO Tim Maniscalo said it's a gamble and your decision could depend on whether you want to take the risk.

"I think a lot of people do grapple with that because you know, you’ve just laid out a lot of money for a TV or a major appliance or something like that and you’re saying, 'Boy, if this gets broken, what do I do?'" Maniscalo said.

Maniscalo suggests that you research extended warranties before you go to the store, since you probably won't read the fine print at the time of the sale. You should also check to see if your credit card company offers its own warranty program and consider whether the warranty comes from a third party company.

"That can sometimes be a little bit of a hassle to deal with, someone who didn’t actually manufacture the product," Maniscalo said.

You should also check to see what a warranty doesn't cover, like accidental damage or lack of maintenance, and be sure you know if there's a cancellation policy, which could allow you to get your money back if you change your mind. The FTC offers additional tips about extended warranties at the link here.

Arvai said that despite her frustration, she still thinks she would pay the extra money for another extended warranty.

"If they’re done right and if they do what they say they’re supposed to do, I think they are a good investment," Arvai said.

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