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BBB: Research before you purchase extended auto service contract

CAPE GIRARDEAU (BBB) — No matter where you turn these days, you’re bound to read or hear about extended auto service contracts. If you’re not hearing about them on television or radio ads, you’re coming home to mailers telling you to have your contract activated immediately.

If you’re confused by all of it, you’re not alone. Consumers nationwide continue to contact the Better Business Bureau with inquiries and complaints about the vehicle service contract industry. Many of these companies call the St. Louis area home. Last year, BBB received more than 500 complaints involving 50 companies based in the region, and more than 518,000 consumers called BBB to check out these area businesses.

Over the past three years, consumers have filed nearly 1,500 complaints against companies in the vehicle service contract industry with BBB in St. Louis. Complaints against businesses in the industry increased 10.8 percent during 2018 over the prior year.

What can you do to protect yourself and make a good decision should you decide to purchase an extended service contract for your vehicle?

  • Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision. Mailers may tell you an immediate response is required, but that is not usually true. Take a moment to investigate the company offering the service contract. Beware of any sales offer that requires you to buy now in order to get the best rate.
  • Make sure you are given a copy of a contract and review it before you make a buying decision. Take a close look at the terms and conditions. Beware of claims that you will receive “bumper to bumper” coverage. This doesn’t mean every problem will be covered. Look for exclusions and disclaimers.
  • Read over your manufacturer’s warranty and contact your dealer or manufacturer to make sure you are not purchasing duplicate coverage.
  • Do the math. If you have an older vehicle, the cost of a service contract may be more than the value of the vehicle.

Research the company and its owners carefully. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile on the BBB’s website or by calling 888-996-3887.

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