Extended warranties (and my experience with Samsung Care+)

In the UK, it’s common practice for retailers to try and sell extended warranties with their products. Dixons Carphone (Curry’s/PC World) were early proponents of the practice, and most consumer electronics have some form of extended warranty on offer.

I generally don’t buy these warranties because:

  • UK consumer protection law is pretty good (thanks to our previous affiliation with the European Union).
  • If I break something, I’ll generally pay for the repairs, replace the item (for low value goods), or fix it myself.
  • If it’s really bad (like when my son broke our 4K TV), we have accidental damage cover on our household insurance*.

Last year, I bought a new mobile phone (Samsung Galaxy S20 5G). I decided to pay a significant sum for the Samsung Care+ package because of previous experience of paying for repairs on my sons’ S10 and Note 10 phones and I knew it was very expensive. I also knew how easy it is to chip the curved edge on the screen (which is not covered by a screen protector).

Samsung Care+

Samsung Care+ is meant to be a bit like AppleCare+. I say “a bit like”, because it’s intended to cover consumers for out of warranty repairs. It’s also clearly named to sound similar. Both are insurance-backed but my Samsung Care+ experience has not been a positive one.

If you go to the Samsung UK Support website, there are various options for repairs including at doorstep, pickup, and in-store. I found that Samsung Care+ only offers a pickup service. A courier collects the phone and takes it to TMT First, who assess the damage and provide a quote. After paying the excess, the phone is repaired and sent back. Samsung quotes 7-10 working days for this service. Mine took longer because, after the screen repair, it failed quality checks and needed more work before it was delayed again “due to limited staff”.

7-10 working days is around 2 weeks without a phone. This is when you realise how important these things have become in our lives. My phone is my primary camera. I use my phone as a digital wallet. I use my phone for mobile access to various Internet-based services (web, podcasts, apps). I use my phone for second factor authentication. I can’t even log on to my bank’s website without a digital access code from my phone. Not having my phone for weeks at a time is a major inconvenience. I could put my SIM into another device but it wasn’t my primary phone and I didn’t want to re-register all the services (although had to anyway after my S20 was wiped). This is why I paid for an extended warranty. I would have been better paying for a doorstep repair.

Samsung Care+ is supposed to make it easy to get your phone fixed. Indeed, quoting the Samsung website:

“Made by Samsung. Fixed by Samsung. You can’t stop accidents from happening, but you can be protected with Samsung Care+. Simple, affordable and comprehensive insurance from the people who know your Galaxy inside out. Not only are you covered for a wide range of mishaps, you’ll enjoy first-rate support when you need it the most.”

Samsung Care+ | Tablet and Phone Insurance | Samsung UK (checked 31 August 2021)

First-rate support. Hmm… My experience was not first-rate. It didn’t even save me much money (though I suppose it will if I have to make a second claim in the next year or so).

What would Apple do?

Why compare to Apple? Well, because Apple and Samsung are the western world’s biggest OEMs for premium mobile phone handsets. And because the naming of their insurance-backed extended warranties suggests that at least one of those brands is trying to compare itself with the other…

Apple owners tell me that AppleCare+ is better. This Tech Radar post tells me that AppleCare+ includes “same-day carry-in; mail-in with a prepaid, overnight delivery box; or on-site repairs at your home or office” and “a temporary, express replacement phone sent to you before you send in your defective unit”. Those repair options are clearly better and the replacement device would have saved me a lot of hassle. AppleCare+ and Samsung Care+ are similarly priced, but it’s worth noting that the equivalent iPhone would have cost more than my S20 did… so I guess you pay for that service.

Once bitten, twice shy

Regardless, I won’t be buying Samsung Care+ again. And I’ll be thinking twice before I buy another Samsung phone, however good it is…

 

*Beware, this can be an expensive approach for low-value items. I once fell into the sea whilst taking photos of my children and destroyed an iPhone 6S. The 6S was the last iPhone model to not be water-resistant (though I’m not sure anything will survive salt water). After paying the insurance excess, the payout was not huge, and the premium increase for the next few years probably wiped out any benefit.

 

Image credit: screenshot from the Samsung Care+ website, taken on 31 August 2021 as fair use for quotation, critique or review under the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

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