VANCOUVER – Janet Trpin was skeptical about getting the extended warranty on a couch she purchased at The Brick in West Vancouver, B.C. Things changed, she said, when the salesperson assured her that any damage caused by her children would be covered. But when the damage occurred, Trpin said the warranty didn’t pay off as advertised and no resolution came until Global News got involved.
“I was giving her [the salesperson] the 20 questions and I said what if my daughter takes a black sharpie marker and colours the couch with permanent ink?…I was thinking of all the things that could possibly happen in the next five years to the couch and she said yes to all of those things,” says Trpin.
With two- and four-year-old children, Trpin figured paying the extra $300 for the extended warranty would be money well spent.
About two weeks after purchasing the couch, her two-year-old daughter drew with ballpoint pen over two cushions. She called The Brick and they sent her an ink lifting kit, which she said did not help. That led to another phone call to The Brick where she was told they would only replace one cushion, not both, or alternatively they would give her a $300 in store credit.
On The Brick’s website, it states that extended furniture warranty covers a number of accidental damages, including accidental damage of “ballpoint pen ink.” It also states that it covers “a single-incident repair of pen, ink, crayons, markers.” A single-incident repair is “multiple stains that occur at the same time.” It says it covers a number of accidental damages.
Despite what was advertised, and the assurance of the salesperson, Trpin was not getting the full coverage.
She was told by officials dealing with her warranty at The Brick`s headquarters that her toddler “willfully” coloured on the couch and that her child’s actions were “intentional.”
“They said because it was intentionally done it’s not covered.”
The Brick’s response:
When Global News contacted Greg Nakonechny, Vice President, Legal for The Brick, he gave a different account as to why Trpin’s claim would not be fully covered. Nakonechny said the Brick honoured the terms of the extended warranty. He said the warranty only covers “accidental staining caused by ballpoint ink.” Over the phone he denied claiming the child had intent, but said the incident could not have been accidental because of the extent of damage.
“Had it occurred to one cushion I could see that, but given that it’s across the sofa I don’t consider that accidental and as a result that’s why the claim was denied,” Nakonechny said.
“The child should have been supervised and should not have had access to the pen for that duration of time and given the extent of the damage we cannot determine that to be accidental.”
Trpin and The Brick came to a conclusion after Global News got involved. The company agreed to replace one cushion at no cost, and assist in replacing the second cushion for around $200. Nakonechny told Trpin that the company is looking to be more clear in their warranty information and also offered an apology.
“Without Global BC being involved and investigating this, we would have gotten no resolution because even when we attempted via lawyer or via the call centre we didn’t get a response,” Trpin said.
Extended warranty, is it worth it?
Bruce Cran, president of the Consumer’s Association of Canada, says in almost all cases, extended warranties are not worth it.
“Generally there’s not much value for the consumer that takes those sort of policies.”
Cran says most companies pay their salespeople a commission to sell extended warranties.
“It’s a sales pitch that they give you. What we’re saying is, you should ignore that. Just buy your furniture or your automotive product, motor car and ignore the extended warranty. There’s very little benefit to consumers in it. Especially not for the amount of money that they’re paying.”
They recommend saving the money you would otherwise spend on the extended warranty and placing it in a “designated product repair/replacement fund”. They also advise consumers to examine the retailers’ return policy before finalizing a sale.