Woman finds warranty omits heated seats

March 22, 2012 8:39:12 PM PDT
Taking your car in for repairs can be nerve-racking. You wonder what they'll find and what it will cost. Some folks rely on extended warranties, but are they reliable?

It can be hard to tell what the service contracts will cover and what they won't cover. One woman came to me with a frustrating situation. She was told her warranty covered half of the repair, but not the other half.

"The heat on the back just feels so good," said Marcia Elefant.

Elefant isn't talking about a hot tub or heating pad. She's talking about her old Lincoln. It has heated seats, which are more than just a luxury. For her, they make driving bearable.

"It seems silly, but when you have arthritis, the heated seat feels so good," said Elefant.

One day the seats didn't warm up, but her arthritis was acting up. Elefant drove to the Ford dealer to get them fixed -- a costly job, but no problem. She has an extended warranty covering everything she could think of.

"Well it was very frustrating," said Elefant.

Here's why it was such a hassle. The dealer said the heating system needed two parts and the warranty covers only one of them. Elefant would have to fork over $500 for the other part.

"It sort of didn't make sense. Either you fix the heated seat, when it goes out or you don't fix it," said Elefant.

She examined all the tiny print in the warranty. It doesn't say heated seats are covered, but it doesn't say they are not covered either.

"...Which sort of leaves you in limbo. Is it covered, or is it not covered?" said Elefant.

Marcia says she paid $2,000 for a premium care warranty because her car is getting old and she figured it would cover most any malfunction.

"I got absolutely nowhere with them, just the runaround," said Elefant.

Finally she contacted 7 On Your Side and we looked at the tiny print too. We found a clause saying "All failures are covered except for those excluded items." We didn't see any heating among the exclusions.

So we contacted Ford, and it said the dealer had made a mistake in ordering parts. It turns out both components were covered after all.

Ford said: "After further review, the dealer determined that the second component was covered under the warranty and the repair is now complete."

Now Elefant has her hot seats back and driving is bearable once again.

"I was very grateful. I got the results that I wanted, so I was very happy," said Elefant.

Before you buy an extended warranty, do read it carefully, even if the fine print is very long. The State Department of Insurance puts out a detailed guide for how to buy an automobile service contract.


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