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Getting repairs made under warranty shouldn’t be so draining

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A computer or household appliance isn’t working. It’s still under warranty, so you expect to receive quick repairs — and a replacement if the product can’t be salvaged.

But that’s not always the case. Here are stories of customers reaching out to the media after their hopes of speedy service and no-cost coverage are dashed.

  • Annette Foux paid $2,500 for a Dell XPS 13-9370 laptop computer last May. Three months later, she had a battery problem that was reported by others at Dell’s community forum.

“I barely used it and the battery completely died,” she said. “The computer can no longer be used without being plugged in.”

Dell offered two options: 1) An in-home visit by a technician to replace the battery; 2) A shipment to the factory to have the battery replaced there.

Call centre staff repeatedly warned her that Dell would not be responsible for damage to the computer that might occur during a repair, she said. (Only later did she learn this was not the case.)

Foux felt she’d reached a dead end, despite copying CEO Michael Dell on emails and asking for a review of her case.

Lauren Lee, a spokesperson at Dell’s head office in Round Rock, Texas, reiterated that Foux had only these two options, despite asking for others.

She couldn’t get a battery shipped to her home for replacement elsewhere, given the structure of the laptop system. As for replacing the computer, Lee said it was not allowed under the warranty’s terms.

Foux argued that she couldn’t send the computer away, since she needed it for work. And a technician’s home visit meant taking time off work, since Dell’s appointments were only during business hours.

In the meantime, another problem had cropped up. Batteries for her computer were out of stock and Dell had no information about when they would come in.

“We have spoken to Ms. Foux,” Lee said a few days after the initial refusal. “As a gesture of goodwill, we have offered her a full refund for her system, which she has accepted.”

The machine didn’t start properly when she pressed the button. It finally stopped working on May 14 and was still not working when she wrote to me Oct. 12.

“After seven useless appointments, when I needed to stay home for a technician and skip my work, after multiple incorrect parts ordered, my washing machine is still not functional,” Fershstater said.

“I’ve spoken with different Frigidaire supervisors. They say the warranty covers repair only and that’s what they do — try to repair.”

There was no time limit for repairs in the warranty terms. So if her appliance was still not working when the manufacturer’s warranty ran out in January 2019, she would have to buy an extended warranty to cover the cost of future repairs.

“That means giving them more money for this poor quality product and all the inconvenience,” Fershstater said. “It’s easier to throw the unit away, pray again and buy another one.”

Eloise Hale, a U.S. spokesperson for Swedish parent company Electrolux Group, satisfied her concerns within a day.

“We resolved the issue with a full refund and $500 compensation for the laundry expenses,” Fershstater said. “I’m waiting for the cheque and praying to buy another washer as soon as I get the refund money.

“From all the things I tried (the supervisors from both Trans Global Service and Frigidaire, the Ontario consumer ministry, consultations with lawyers), the Toronto Star was the most efficient.”

  • Susan and John Young bought a Bosch dishwasher at Hudson’s Bay Co. in December 2016. They paid $825 (half price during a Bay Day sale), plus $179 for an extended warranty.

When the dishwasher did not drain completely in year two, HBC’s service provider Warrantech said it could not be repaired.

“Perhaps we are expecting too much,” Susan said about receiving a $932.25 HBC gift card as a refund.

When I got involved, the Bay agreed to replace the dishwasher. The Youngs had to pay a $220 fee to remove the old machine and install the new one.

But when a technician came to their home, he found the dishwasher wasn’t draining properly because it had been installed incorrectly.

The instruction manual said the drain hose must be looped high. It wasn’t in their case, which meant that residual water left in the hose drained back into the dishwasher, which kept trying to pump it out again until the pump expired.

“I paid a $220 installation fee for the new dishwasher to fix a problem caused by your first technician,” she said. “I hope the Bay will refund the fee.”

Instead, the couple received a refund of the initial installation fee ($162.72), after signing a release form saying they would take no further action.

In my experience, warranties are a huge source of complaints from customers. Service providers often promise more than they are willing to deliver.

My advice: Stand your ground. Ask for a replacement or refund when a product can’t be fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

Retailers have a legal duty to sell items that work properly. They can’t hold your merchandise hostage while they struggle to figure out what went wrong.

Ellen Roseman is a columnist based in Toronto covering consumer affairs. Reach her on email: eroseman@thestar.ca.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place. HomeYou’ve been selected.Only $1.49/week for your first 4 months.Special offer just for you. Unlimited access.

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10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

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Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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A Simplified Guide for Toronto First-Time Home Buyers

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Toronto is the largest city in Canada, the fourth largest city in North America, which makes it an exciting place to live in.

But as with other major cities, finding the perfect place to move to can get tricky. If you’re planning on buying a home for the first time in this city, it is indeed a big decision and there are things you should know in advance.

Don’t worry, this guide will help explain the basics of what you as a buyer should know when you decide to buy a home. It will make you feel like a true expert during the buying process.

Decide what type of home you are looking for

There is no right answer to what makes a good home. It all depends on your preferences and needs as the resident. It is, therefore, a good idea to determine as early as possible which features of a home are important to you. If you are buying a home and moving in with someone, it can be a good idea for both of you to make a list and compare.

Toronto is a city that offers different styles of living accommodations and its neighborhoods are quite versatile and diverse, same as the people living there who come from all parts of the world.

The most common forms of housing and real estate opportunities in this city include bungalows, two-storey houses, split-level homes, and the very popular Toronto condos. Due to the high property values, the city boasts of construction of many condominiums as they are a more cost-efficient choice and provide a plethora of benefits.

When you decide on the type of home you want to buy, it is good to do some research and learn the biggest differences between them.

What to think of when choosing homes in Toronto

There are certain things you need to consider when choosing your home in this city. 

Being close to the things you need to visit every day makes life a lot easier. Pay attention to the proximity to shops, preschools, schools, and your job. In addition, access to good public transportation is crucial. Being able to move around the city easily and the opportunity to commute is important to many.

Know that having a balcony can significantly increase the value of your home and improve your well-being. Being able to move easily in the area is something that many people underestimate, but can be very convenient, and this is why you should see if there are good cycles and walking paths. 

And finally, make sure that the house is well designed which is a quality that does not disappear with the age of the house or with renovations. 

Set your budget

Before you start the search for your new home, you must know how expensive of a home you can buy. It is preferable to know in what price range to look for. The budget is usually decided based on your mortgage and how large are the monthly costs you can handle.

A mortgage is always about a balance between risk and income for the bank. The higher the risk for the bank to lend to a particular home, the more expensive the mortgage will be. When it comes to the bank’s reasoning when applying for a loan, it is in principle always a question of whether you as a borrower will be able to repay the mortgage.

The bank also takes into account your financial history. If you are a person who has managed your finances well, the chance increases that you will get your mortgage approved. If, on the other hand, you have a bad reputation with banks, it is weighed in as an aggravating circumstance.

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