UNDER THE GREEN UMBRELLA

Green UmbrellaUnder the Green Umbrella Now here’s an idea whose time has definitely come: It’s the Green Umbrella warranty at GreenUmbrella.com. It negates buying a store’s “extended warranty,” and covers everything you buy, as long as it was in the U.S. Buying a store’s “extended warranty” whenever you buy new equipment is one of the worst purchases you can make (and one of the most profitable for them). The extended warranty is expensive and you have to buy a new one for every piece of equipment. What’s wrong here is that every piece of new equipment, be it a computer, a monitor, disk drive or a vacuum cleaner, nearly always carries a warranty from the manufacturer. If it is going to break down, that failure almost always occurs in the first two years of use, which is almost always within the maker’s warranty period. For $10 a month, at GreenUmbrella.com, you can have all your products waranteed, as long as each one is less than $5000. Once you’re enrolled, you can add an unlimited number of new products, as long as you register them while they’re still less than 60 days old. GreenUmbrella.com is part of Experian Interactive, whose products include FreeCreditReport.com, PriceGrabber.com and Lowermybills.com, all very popular websites.

4 Responses to “UNDER THE GREEN UMBRELLA”

  1. Here’s a letter we received from a reader recently on the whole warranty issue. Later we talked to the founder of Green Umbrella, who had some excellent suggestions (see later comment):

    I am writing to you about a major issue, that I am sure is affecting a large number of people. In June 2006 I bought a Gateway laptop computer from the University of Arkansas computer store. As part of this purchase I bought an extensive 3 year warranty that is still listed under the Gateway company (support.gateway.com/support/srt/warranty.asp?sn=0036733228). The contract said they could sell the warranty to another company.

    Recently, my computer stopped working. I still have a year on my warranty. I took it back to the University store, and they said they were no longer dealing with parts or service for Gateway because they had so many problems, starting last summer. They suggested that I contact Gateway. Gateway told me that I had to call another number for a company called MPC. To make a long story short, Gateway had sold the warranty to MPC as of October 2007. Customer service for MPC finally ordered a mother board and an AC adapter that the University computer store had recommended and told me that shipping was delayed, but I should get the parts in 5 days. That was 2 weeks ago. At the time I received my parts, a tech person was supposed to call me and come and fix it. Meanwhile, as you are aware, I was without my computer files, my projects, etc.

    Since then, things have only gone downhill. The parts haven’t come and the check status web page for order 2840039 says the date is “please call”. The ship date is “N/A”. The phone number (1-877-485-1464) says it won’t answer questions about parts. From the beginning, I smelled a rat, so I looked at the web site for MPC, and they were ‘delisted’ from the American Stock Exchange on Oct 1 2008. Their stockholder equity had fallen below 2 million dollars and they had sustained losses from continuing operations or net losses in two of the three most recent years (www.mpccorp.com/common/press_releases/mpc/index.asp?id=102708_1).

    The statement from MPC also crowed about the fact that they had acquired Gateway’s Professional business in October 2007. And, my “Gateway Three Year Limited Warranty Agreement” says that Gateway can sell the contract. I called a number I was given about warranties at the original company, Gateway (877-845-9728), and was told that the call was ‘unusual’ and the person would need to talk to someone. The answer when he came back was that legally Gateway had no responsibility for my problems. The University computer store tried to help me, but found the same problems I did, as well as information that the company had been moved first to Tennessee and then to Mexico. What a nightmare!

    I do have an address given to me by the Gateway warranty office for the Gateway Executive Response Team, p.o. Box 6137, Temple, Texas 76503. I also have a call in to the National Arbitration Forum at 800 474-2371, which is the only recompense my contract allows me.

    I looked at the Gateway web site, and found that major stores such as Wal*Mart and Best Buy sell these computers. I called Best Buy and found that they have no problem getting parts, and can fix laptops. They cannot, however, honor my ‘Gateway Three Year Limited Warranty Agreement’.

    My questions are as follows:

    1. Why did Gateway sell my Warranty (and many other Warranties, I’m sure) to a company that was financially questionable? MPC was finally told they were not in compliance with the stock market rules in 2008, but they had clearly been in bad shape for 3 years. Did Gateway simply want to get rid of a financially non-productive part of their business so they could make more money and leave the consumers hanging?

    2. Now that it is clear that MPC is not servicing these Warranties, why does Gateway not take responsibility for their action, even though they can point to a legal contract as absolving them of any responsibility? Why would anyone want to buy a computer from them if they act so irresponsibly in making sure their Warranty is valid? (for a copy of the Gateway Three Year Limited Warranty Agreement, look at http://www.gateway.com)

    3. This problem is possibly a good example of why some American corporations are in trouble–they make sure they have very little legal responsibility, and they are so removed from their customers that they cannot and will not make good on their promises. Buying from Gateway is not something I would recommend to anyone, and I hope Wal*Mart and Best Buy are listening.

  2. Here’s a comment on Karen’s dilemma from the founder of Green Umbrella.

    I feel for this consumer (Karen). One of the benefits of GreenUmbrella.com is that we eliminate the confusion and suffering she is currently going through as she only has one website to go to and one company (The Warranty Group) to deal with for repair services. I think she may be confused about her coverage, which is also something that we eliminate because the terms and conditions of our coverage are clearly disclosed on our website and linkable from every page.

    I spent some time researching her issue and it appears to me that she originally purchased a Gateway 3 Year Extended Service Plan with Accidental Damage Protection (ADP) and not a Gateway Three Year Limited Warranty as she suggests in her email. A limited warranty is typically offered by the manufacturer for no additional charge and covers a limited number of defects whereas the extended service plan offers substantial additional coverage’s and protection. This may be a case where the manufacturer (Gateway) and service plan provider and/or underwriter (N.E.W and AIG) are disagreeing as to who should cover the cost of her broken laptop. The current Gateway extended service plan with ADP can be found here: http://www.gateway.com/about/legal/warranties/8511353.pdf I’m not sure where the MPC Company comes in other then possibly being a third party administrator on the limited warranty she received from Gateway with her computer purchase. I would need to review all of the warranty and service plan agreements that she originally received with her purchase to know for sure.

    In any case, if she can’t get the extended service plan underwriter (in this case N.E.W or AIG Warranty Group) to cover the expense of repairing or replacing her laptop then I would suggest that she request a refund of the unused portion of extended service plan that she purchased, which she is entitled to under the law. She can also file a complaint with the State or Arkansas Insurance Commissioner or State Attorney General against Gateway which might help motivate them to remedy her problem. If she is interested in looking at GreenUmbrella.com to protect her future purchases I would be more than happy to provide her with a lifetime discount of $6.95/month (versus our retail price $9.95/month). If Karen would like to talk to me directly, I would be happy to try and help through her warranty nightmare as one of our primary goals is to try and take the hassle and confusion out of extended warranties.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  3. Thanks for sharing. It is useful for me.

  4. I had the same problem as Karen. She is right. She probably did buy the on sight service full warranty as I did. I have spent over 40 hours researching this problem. Gateway sold off their professional service division( i.e. businesses and schools). They sold it to MPC which is now dead. Gateway has since been bought out by ACER. They are not honoring professional service warranties.