The official-looking postcard in your mailbox warns that your car’s warranty is about to expire and urges you to call a toll-free number to ensure you’re covered. But think twice before you dial. These mailers are actually advertisements aimed at pressuring you into buying an expensive service contract.
The Washington Attorney General’s Office, like other agencies throughout the country, has noticed an increase in consumer complaints concerning postcards from out-of-state companies offering extended warranties. Businesses design their mailers to look like official notices from your vehicle manufacturer with phrases like “FINAL WARRANTY NOTICE.” Many postcards are personalized with the car owner’s name and a “customer ID” number. See examples below.
“If you receive a postcard warning you to renew your vehicle warranty, don’t take the information on face value,” said Assistant Attorney General Mary Lobdell. “Your car or truck’s initial warranty may be far from expiring or may have expired long ago. These notices usually aren’t from your manufacturer or dealer; they’re ads from businesses that want to sell you an optional, pricey plan to cover future repairs.”
If you do want to purchase an extended warranty – more accurately known as a service contract – always shop around and know exactly what it is you are buying. You may be able to get a similar or better contract from your vehicle manufacturer or another business. Read our tips on what to look for.