VISA Extended Warranty Protection
GREAT FALLS, MONTANTA -- I want to share my experience with others so if you decide to use the Benefits Program of your VISA credit card, you will be prepared for the process.
I bought a new kitchen appliance in the summer of '09 of the same brand as the previous appliance I'd used for 18 years. After 18 months of use, something inside the door broke render it useless. The warranty is only 1 year. Then I remember this benefit feature from VISA that gives consumers double the warranty protection period. So, I called with the hope that VISA might pay for getting it fixed. I've never used the benefits that come with my credit cards in the 30 years that I've credit cards. The first time I did, it was quite a trial. Like any companies, they lose money by paying for your repair or replacement so they won't make it easy, as you can imagine.
First of all, the VISA benefits program is not administered by the bank that issues the card; I don't think it's even administered by the VISA corporation but handled by some third-party company with a contract with VISA.
To summarize what I've learned:
1) Before you call, check with your credit card or find the booklet that describes the benefits to verify what benefits you card entitles you. Benefits like purchase protection, price protection, extended protection, return protection, etc. are pretty much standard for most cards nowadays, and not limited to "premium" cards anymore.
2) Afterward, call the benefit admin number and discuss the situation with them. When I called the number, I was immediately told my card didn't come with extended protection although I'd the benefit booklet right in front of me that says I do. They told me to call the issuing bank to sort it out instead. Don't waste your time like I did. Call back in a little while and another agent probably will be more competent and can start the process rolling. I don't know if they did it on purpose or it was just a fluke but my experience already didn't start out well. The first step is for them to send (snail mail) or fax you the forms to fill out. No emails exchange.
2) Don't expect to get an answer or find out how much they'll compensate you right away. The rules are that if your purchase is less than $100, they'll reimburse you for the purchase of a new item (up to your original purchase price, naturally.) Anything over $100 is more problematic. They'll either pay for the repair or a replacement depending which cost less. Totally understandable and makes perfect business sense.
3) Get your item to an authorized service provider and have them give you an estimate in writing, you'll need that despite what they might tell you. It makes sense since they need an estimate to see if that's cheaper than reimbursing you for a new one. But for some reasons, they told me I SHOULD NOT go to get an estimate, just send back the paperwork and they'll decide if I get a repair or replacement. When I question how they could make a decision without a repair estimate to compare, they kept saying that they're trying to make it easier for me. Well, don't believe them, get that estimate from an authorized service center right away or you're just delaying the process!
4) Every time you mail or fax anything over to them, it will take 1 day to log the information into the system and then "up to" 5 business days to make a decision and get back to you. Don't expect to be called in less than 5 days. Count yourself lucky if it's less than 5 days because they'll wait until the fifth days to call. And if you don't have call waiting and they call when your phone is busy, they'll consider their job done and unlikely to call back unless you call them. The very day they promised to call, I used the phone once in the afternoon and that just happened to be the time the benefit manager called. When I didn't get a call at the end of that day, I called to inquire and was told she called earlier and the phone was busy. That's all the agent said and no apology, no offer to patch me to the benefit manager. Now, I've to say the agents are polite and business-like, but there's an indifference attitude when we communicated. When I asked to speak to the benefit manager, the agent said she was not available. So I asked if she'd call me back. The agent said yes but she had up to 72 hours to do so. To their credit, she called in 2 hours. She said the paperwork was in order but they needed the repair estimate in order to decide how much to reimburse me. I asked her why then was I told not to bring it to the repair shop for an estimate when I first called, the process could've been sped up, she said the agents shouldn't have told me that, blah, blah, blah. She assured me that after they got the estimate, she would be able to make a decision "right away." Well, there is no such thing as "right away" because it would still take another 5 business days before contacting me.
Let me give you an idea the length of time to put the whole process in perspective. Using fax will speed things up a little.
1) Took 4 days from calling to receiving the forms by postal mail.
2) Returned the forms the same day via postal mail and they logged the forms into the system. That took a total of 5 days including weekends.
3) A benefit manager called 5 business days after the forms were logged in. (7 days including weekends)
4) Went to the repair shop the next day, got the estimate in 2 days and faxed it back. (3 days).
5) 1 day to log in the info, then another 5 business days to call back. (10 days including weekends)
6) I was approved to purchase a new appliance. I faxed them the receipt on the same day. It took another day to log in the fax and 5 business days to let me know if my receipt was accepted. (8 days including weekends)
7) I was notified that the amount on the receipt was approved and I would received a check in 7 to 10 business days. The check arrived in 4 days.
The whole process took 41 days, almost 6 weeks.
Using fax and getting your estimate ready should shave off 2 weeks. In my case, every single decision took all 5 business days to attain and every time I send something over, it took 1 day to log in the info and another 5 business days to advance to the next step. So, if you do want to take advantage of your VISA benefits program, brace yourself for the process and the wait, you'll get what you're entitled but you'll have to be patient.