Planned obsolescence is probably at least partially real. At the same time, you probably beat the shit out of your tech products and don’t even realize it. Maybe your phone is slowing down because of some plot from Apple to get you to buy the new iPhone, maybe it’s because you drop it every weekend. Still, most things are meant to work for a designated period of time, sometimes whether you treat it perfectly or not. As such, warranties exist. But as you might have noticed, warranties usually suck. They’re too short and filled with weird caveats. Why the hell are they like this?
Well, because, y’know, capitalism. Point blank, companies want your money. That’s why their warranties suck. It’s fully a way to make you spend more money.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doesn’t require warranties, though they do require that warranty information be available to you before making a purchase if such a warranty exists. However, every state has laws regarding something called an “implied” warranty. Basically, this guarantees that if you buy a coffee maker, it actually works to make coffee when you take it home and set it up. It also works with more specific details of an item. For example, if a salesperson tells you that the coffee maker also features an alarm clock, the implied warranty would guarantee that it does indeed feature an alarm.
Without a written warranty, this is about the extent of your legal protections against faulty products. Ideally, the retailer you bought the item from will honor the fact that their shit doesn’t work for its intended purpose, particularly if the retailer has a return window. In the event that they don’t, though, you might have a case in small claims court.
As for why your television screen stops producing images juuuust after that two-year warranty expired, or why spilling water on your keyboard isn’t covered by the warranty, it really is just because the manufacturer wants you to have to buy a new one, or at least cover the cost of the repairs. Especially with a company like Apple, with such devoted consumers, Apple knows there’s a good chance we’ll just eat shit and pay for a new item when they won’t cover something.
All the FTC really recommends is to familiarize yourself with all the details of a written warranty of a product, keep the receipt and follow whatever rules and maintenance the manufacturer recommends. Some mattress warranties, for example, only cover repairs and replacements if you’ve been using a boxspring and proper bed frame.
Essentially, warranties suck because big corporations consider you a worthless little bootlicker. There’s one instance, though, where those big corporations can be your friend: Some credit cards include an extended warranty on the products purchased with the card, or simply owned by the card owner. Often, this perk covers the warranty on a product for an extra year. Of course, you’re only perpetuating this monstrous capitalistic cycle, but really, what else are you gonna do?