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Wal-Mart Adds In-Store Warranty Plans

Bentonville, Ark. — As part of Wal-Mart’s effort to beef up its CE business, it has begun offering extended service plans (ESPs) at its flagship stores.

The program, administered by N.E.W. Customer Services Companies, features two-year “Product Care Plans” on TVs and computers priced over $300. The plans are sold on a sliding scale based on the retail price point of the covered item.

Gary Severson, senior VP/general merchandise manager for Wal-Mart Stores, said the move was prompted by customer demand. “Our customers increasingly have been asking for warranty coverage over and above what is provided by the manufacturer,” he said. “They are particularly interested in this coverage when they purchase electronics at higher price points, and with this program we can meet their needs.”

N.E.W. has administered warrantee plans for Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club wholesale club division for the past 14 years, and for the past two years. Service plans for TVs at Wal-Mart’s cyberstore start at $5.88 for one year of coverage on sets priced between $50 and $150, and top off at $583 for three years of coverage on plasma display panels priced between $5,000 and $9,000.

“We’re pleased to be able to add this new dimension to our electronics customers’ shopping experience,” Severson said. “We also hope it will encourage customers who shop in our other departments to cross the aisle and take a closer look at the choice and value we offer in electronics.”

The in-store ESPs became available to consumers on Oct. 27. They will be marketed with brochures and a purchase option at checkout.