Extended Car Warranty companies are quickly earning a reputation as one of the most irritating industries in America due to their annoying business practice of phoning us to solicit business. The pitch usually goes something like, “We are contacting you because your vehicle warranty will soon expire and want you to know you can extend your coverage.”
The four lies in this call are;
These calls are annoying to those of us who receive them. While driving. While at work. During your child’s piano recital. While hospitalized. And they also drive us nuts because they call our aging parents or young adult children who then call us and ask what they should do.
As a Car Talk contributor, I’ve written a number of stories about the best and worst extended car warranty companies. It’s with mixed feelings that I do so, because I despise the robocalls and other types of despicable marketing practices some of these companies employ. I was robocalled by just such a company today. While writing this story.
The good news is there is hope. Car Talk researchers have looked into how to deal with the problem of extended vehicle warranty company calls. What we learned is that you can reduce the number of calls you get, manage and screen those you do get, and get help if you were pressured into a contract.
Please note that the telephone is not the only way you’re going to be pitched for these extended warranties. They’ll use the phone, mail, email, targeted Facebook ads, Morse Code, smoke signals, semaphore, sky writing, and any and every means possible to separate you from your money.
The Federal Communications Commission, FCC, does not consider extended car warranty sales pitch calls legitimate business solicitations, but rather, terms them “scams.” Like Rachel from Cardholder Services, that Nigerian prince who just needs your bank account number to temporarily stash a few million, and the local chimney sweep who “just happens to be doing your neighbor’s chimney tomorrow,” these calls are not usually targeted. They just call every possible phone number one by one until they find a gullible mark.
Some extended car warranty companies do some research on their marks. They may have some bits of information that seem about right. That’s because they purchased some of your personal information from a data mining company, or maybe even your own car dealer, the Quick-Lube place where you get your oil changed, or your state’s RMV. Who knows? Regardless, it is a sales pitch they employ all day every day, and you were not singled out.
The single best way to know if such a call is real is the number from which the call originates. If it is a number that you have stored in your phone, let’s say Herb Chambers Lexus in Sharon Massachusetts, then the call may well be from your dealer. These are not the type of calls we are discussing here. Any call from any number you don’t recognize is suspect. Why answer it? If it is indeed from a business with which you have a relationship, or a personal call from a number you don’t recognize, you will get a legitimate voicemail, a text, or an email you can then reply back to.
If the caller ID on your phone says “Unknown Caller,” or “Private Number,” it is likely a scam. Another trick that is hard to ignore is a call from a number similar to yours or similar to those in your area. This is called neighbor spoofing. Don’t pick up. Instead, block the number.
If you do end up answering, you can quickly spot the most common tricks employed by these spammers. First up, a recorded message. Nobody who wants your business in any legitimate way is going to robocall you.
Next up is urgency. If you have to call back soon, or something will expire, a special discount will be lost, or you will be in trouble, this is a scam. Urgency is a red flag, particularly in the world of third-party extended warranties. You can find an extended car warranty company who will sell you a policy on a salvage-title late-’60s Oldsmobile Delmont 88 if you want one. The only urgency is the scammer’s sales quota.
One other common phone scam technique is the familiar voicemail trick. “Hey, this is Bobby. I have that information. Hit me back, dude.” It’s not Bobby, your long-lost roommate from college, and if you recently exchanged information with someone in 2021, why the heck would you or they use voicemail?
The single best way to deal with any type of robocall is to not answer any call originating from a number not already in your contact list. Give yourself permission forever to stop answering unsolicited calls. If you have accidentally answered a call from a spammer extended car warranty company that starts with a recorded message, hang up and block the call. If you somehow engaged in a short chat with such a company and don’t want to be hassled any longer, stop the conversation, say, “Please don’t call me again, remove my number from your list,” and hang up. Then block the number. One other suggestion is to say that you already have a policy from another provider.
Do these and you likely won't hear from the warranty provider again:
If your phone number is not on the Do Not Call List, add it right now. Here’s how to do so. The National Do Not Call Registry was the federal government’s response to spam calls. This registry is not going to prevent determined scammers from calling you, but it will stop unsolicited calls from “legitimate” businesses you don’t have an existing relationship with from phoning you with offers you are not asking for. Usually. It’s free, and you need to sign up in order to report scammers.
There can be times when robocalls or spammers get out of control. My wife is a doctor. One evening while on-call, she began getting repeated “Unknown number” robocalls on her work cell phone. One after the other. This put her patients’ health at risk since she cannot screen by caller ID. Sometimes a relative makes an urgent call using a phone number she does not already know. After a bit of Google-searching for a solution, she simply called her provider, AT&T, who was able to stop the spam calls almost instantly. If the calls are coming fast and furious, call your cell service or landline provider.
Another tool at your disposal is a phone app that helps you stop robo-spam calls of all types. Appropriately named Nomorobo is a free app that Xfinity, AT&T, and other companies recommend. The Google Play Store and Apple AppStore also have many highly-rated apps to help manage the problem of unsolicited robocalls.
31 days after you have listed your phone on the National Do Not Call Registry, you become eligible to drop a dime on any company that calls you with an unsolicited pitch, as long as you don’t already have a relationship. If your dentist calls to remind you of an overdue cleaning the SWAT team is not going to kick their doors down if you report them. This is a tool that the government can use for true spammers who are violating laws in a big way.
The FCC handles complaints of this type. You can report your robocall problem here. The same agency also handles scams from TV, radio, and the internet. If you have somehow gotten roped into a contract and you feel you were cheated, bamboozled, or flim-flammed, the law office of Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe suggest that you follow the Federal Trade Commission’s advice.
The FTC suggests these groups may help you:
If you ended up being pressured into a contract you regret, you can also complain to the Better Business Bureau. Car Talk’s ratings of extended warranty companies lean heavily on BBB ratings. Those with a high frequency of complaints don’t make our “Best Of” lists.
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It's not personal. While your dealer or manufacturer may contact you when your warranty is ready for renewal, spammers and scammers make these calls to everybody.
In some cases, extended car warranties make sense. Check out Car Talk’s full guide for more details.
Car Talk’s research points to your car’s manufacturer as being the most likely best choice, if they offer a manufacturer-supported extended warranty. If that is not available, Car Talk recommends checking Endurance or CARCHEX.
Report the call to the FCC at this link.
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