Irvine, Calif. — There’s a new kid on the extended warranty block with a potentially disruptive business model.
GreenUmbrella.com, a division of Experian Interactive, opened up shop last month with a revolutionary alternative to the traditional extended service contract: Rather than offer coverage on individual products, the company has developed a blanket plan that ostensibly protects all of a household’s new brown and white goods for one monthly fee of $9.95.
The plan, which is renewable on a monthly basis, covers an unlimited number of major brand CE, PC and home appliance products per customer. There are no deductibles or fees for in-home repair or replacement service, the company said, and consumers can register multiple products up to 30 days after purchase at no additional cost.
Coverage also extends to products purchased up to two months prior to the plan’s start date.
Eligibility is limited to new goods with manufacturer warranties purchased for up to $5,000, which presently encompasses about 60,000 different products, the company said.
The plan is presently being pitched direct to consumers, but the company will also explore partnership opportunities with retailers and manufacturers, it said.
The program is administered and underwritten by The Warranty Group (formerly AON), a leading extended service plan provider, through its TWG Innovative Solutions (TWGIS) and Virginia Surety subsidiaries.
Customer calls are fielded by The Warranty Group’s call center, and in-home and carry-in service is handled by The Warranty Group’s nationwide network of 25,000 authorized repair centers. Products are replaced after a third repair attempt, and the plan also covers damage caused by power surges.
"We’ve listened to consumers through surveys, focus groups and field market research and created an extended service plan that is consumer-friendly, convenient and most of all affordable," said general manager Mike Balducci. "Consumers may spend weeks researching their expensive home appliance and electronics purchases, only to be forced to make a split-second decision on extended service just before checkout."
The new approach "removes the confusion and anxiety" associated with many of these decisions by providing consumers with a flexible, all-in-one service plan backed by a leading warranty provider, he said.
The company says it can save consumers 50 percent or more off the price of traditional service contracts, which generally cost 15 percent to 20 percent of a product’s purchase price, compared to less than 10 percent for three years of coverage by GreenUmbrella for an unlimited number of products.
Experian itself is a global information services company whose online products include such consumer financial sites as PriceGrabber.com, FreeCreditReport.com and Lowermybills.com.
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