Consumer Reports: Watch your warranty

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Shoppers may have more warranty rights than they think, which might help them get satisfaction, says Consumer Reports. Here's what you need to know about warranties.

1. The written warranty isn't the whole story. Your rights go beyond what you read in a warranty booklet.

What you should do: Keep copies of all performance promises, no matter where you find them.

2. You have a right to see the written warranty before you buy.

What you should do: If a merchant won't show you the warranty even after you explain your rights, consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (go to ftccomplaintassistant.gov).

3. Laws give you more rights. Along with companies' express warranties, you also have "implied warranties" under state law.

What you should do: If you discover that something you bought is defective -- even after the written warranty has expired -- contact the retailer and manufacturer to ask for a repair, replacement or refund.

4. You have other protections, too. You may be able to satisfy a product complaint through other channels, including:

Credit card warranties -- Many credit and some debit cards extend the manufacturer's written warranty on most products you buy using the card.

Credit card chargebacks -- Federal law gives you up to a year to seek a chargeback.

Goodwill programs -- Companies sometimes quietly offer free or discounted out-of-warranty repairs or product replacement.

Lemon laws -- If a problem can't be fixed at a certain point, you're entitled to at least part of your money back.

Recalls -- If you suspect that a product is unsafe or if it is recalled, contact the manufacturer or retailer immediately. You can find news of recalls at saferproducts.gov.

5. You often have more rights in a walk-in store than on the Internet.

What you should do: Buy from a walk-in store, and avoid products sold "as is" or with similar language.

6. You don't need the service contract.

What you should do: Consumer Reports recommends self-insuring by placing the money you would otherwise spend on service contracts into a savings account.

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