I have taken a liking to ordering gadgets from eBay global buy – many of my recent purchases (which include laptops, phones and accessories) have helped me save about 20-30% compared to the same stuff being purchased from India. These are brand new products which come with a caveat, no Indian warranty! These are perfectly legitimate purchases with all duties and customs paid, with warranty that can be claimed by shipping the product back to the vendor in the foreign country.
So, am I taking a risk by buying products without local warranty? Yes, a calculated risk on products that don’t really go bad in a one year period, after which the “warranty” factor is eliminated from the equation.
So, is warranty an important factor today? With a standard one year warranty policy for almost all gadgets, the importance of warranty is debatable. I would opt for paying the premium for warranty if it was atleast two years. After spending 50K on a laptop or 30K on a phone, I feel cheated when the product is only covered for one year. Given the fact that manufacturing and assembling technology for these gadgets has improved by leaps and bounds, vendors should offer more than just one-year of limited warranty (which is usually laced with its own list of conditions). Even high-end LCD TVs with price tags that can go as high as 1.5 lakh rupees come with a standard one year warranty.
The result? People prefer buying them from abroad or the grey market, taking the chance to save on a considerable sum.
In fact, extending the standard support period to two years should act in the favor of the vendors; it gives the buyer a very good reason to believe in the quality of the product and also gives them a competitive advantage in a crowded market.
As luck would have it, most of the cases of hard drives failing in laptops or screens of phones and laptops going bad raise their ugly head after the warranty period is over, making you pay heavily for even the smallest of fixes. Vendors are probably aware of the fact that their products are unlikely to suffer from any inherent issues in the first year and so the cost involved in support and warranty coverage is minimal. Especially when a standard warranty today does not cover accidental damage or physical damage, what is essentially covered for is a technical failure, which usually occurs after considerable usage of the product.
My first hand experience over a warranty claim for a Nokia phone which developed screen anomalies has perhaps played an important role in my disbelief in the all important “warranty”. In my case, while the phone was under warranty, Nokia refused to repair the device because their service centre (which is usually based on a franchise model with very little technical expertise or consistency) replied back with a reverse blame on the user (me), claiming that the screen was damaged due to pressure on the screen. Alright! So, the pressure was enough to spoil the screen while keeping the top glass and the LCD panel below it intact and fully functional. “Sir, this damage is not covered because it seems you kept something heavy on the screen, causing damage to the screen”. I slammed the phone down, not wanting to argue with a franchise support person who was just complying with the company policy without any authority or control to reverse the final outcome.
Almost all digital cameras with prices that start from as low as Rs 5,000 come with a standard 2-year warranty in India. So, the concept is not alien, just that it’s rare and is confined to very few categories. It is high-time for the norms to change, the standard one year warranty is just not good enough anymore.