Report: #19723

Complaint Review: GE Zurich Warranty Management Inc.

  • Submitted: Sat, April 27, 2002
  • Updated: Sun, May 01, 2005
  • Reported By: apache junction Arizona
  • GE Zurich Warranty Management Inc.
    10945 Estate Ln., Dallas, Tx 75238
    Dallas, Texas

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

I bought a Xerox printer at Office Max together with a warranty plan from GE Zurich.

Office Max showed me a yellow brochure with the bullet points when selling the contract to me. This brochure is divided into 2 parts: One refers to PC Peripherals, the other one to "Electronics". The first bullet point under PC Peripherals says: "Comprehensive coverage of functional parts and labor beginning day 91" (the words day 91 are underlined)

Under "Electronics" one of the bullet points is: "coverage begins as soon as the manufacturer's warranty expires". I bought the "PC-Peripherals" plan and the cash register receipt said "PC-Peripherals". When my printer broke down 7 months later, the guy from GE Zurich did not want to hear anything about the yellow brochure. Whenever I started: "...but the yellow brochure,..." he interrupted me and started to talk about the "pink contract" (which I had never signed and received after paying for the plan) It is some kind of a microprint on the reverse side of the cash register receipt. When talking to the "MAX-Assurance specialist" Jennifer at Office Max, she went like "the yellow brochure is not the contract, you should have read the contract, when signing it" (actually there is not even a space where to sign the pink slip)

Whenever I tried to talk about the yellow sales brochure she repeated her sermon: "the pink document is the contract..." even after about 10 attempts to find out, why the yellow brochure talks about "day 91" she went on "the pink document is the contract..." like as if she had a scratched record somewhere in her brain. It looks like everybody who has something to do with the Max Assurance plan is advised to ignore questions which are related to the yellow salesbrochure systematically and to drive callers into despair. I had the impression of talking to a bunch of idiots who only accept the money and later try everything possible in order to keep the money.


Phoenix, Arizona
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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

A look from the inside of GE-Zurich

AUTHOR: Ross - (U.S.A.)

As a former employee of GE-Zurich, I rose through the ranks from technical support specialist to a salaried employee, eventually moving on to actually train employees in how to do their job. It is interesting to note how much information is NOT passed on to consumers AND employees alike, concerning the business of extended warranties. Many times, the consumer is told information that does not necessarily match up with the Terms and Conditions set forth by the ACTUAL extended-warranty contract, a contract that the consumer often NEVER sees and, when asked about the contract, the retail company either does not have a copy of said contract and/or cannot recite the actual Terms and Conditions of such contract.

Sadly, when the customer calls, concerning repair of their purchased and extended-warranty insured items, they are shocked to find that said damage is not covered under the warranty. This is because the salesperson either did not give them a copy of the contract with the CURRENT Terms and Conditions, or did not explain the contract fully to the customer, to avoid any future confusion.

Now, it is NOT necessarily the salespersons fault either, in the event that this occurs. The retail company must also supply their sales force with the proper tools, namely the contract, up-to-date and complete. Many times, when the customer calls to get service, the tech support person wants to help, but is often hindered by unrealistic call-center goals (i.e. a 15 minute call time deadline, and constant supervisory monitoring to ensure they're not saying something they're not supposed to), and a second-tier support staff who's primary mission it is to lower the amount of actual service that is performed. The whole premise is that the extended warranty company does not make money if they perform a repair or replacement of even HALF the calls that comes into the call center, EVEN if those requests CLEARLY fall under coverage of the contract. While the tech support staff was nobly trying to assist customers, often-times the overall concensus was the company could only let a certain amount of the monthly call volume qualify for actual service. The number of service requests that became locked in endless circles of bureaucratic red-tape seemed astronomical.

I will tell you this, most of us, even I, were kept in the dark about the actual "workings" of the company, their business dealings, and the undoubted "compromises" that went on behind closed doors. Though we suspected the business, not just GE-Zurich, was in the practice of providing poor-quality service, we were never given the opportunity to find the facts. Everything at GE-Zurich was compartmentalized, and I am pretty positive that most managers had VERY little clue as to what other departments were ACTUALLY doing besides the general information that was passed around. IF they did have inside knowledge, I was not aware. It was as if the "divide-and-conquer" approach to business was used there.

Buyer beware. If you do not SEE and READ the Terms and Conditions of the contract, be prepared for a negative response to your request for service. Techs are people too, and they have to deal with this all the time. DO NOT blame them for the breakdown in the system. They are merely the messenger, and NOT the message.

IF you are pressured into buying the extended warranty NOW, don't do it. According to the contact that GE-Zurich sold, for both their Max Assurance AND Computer Support Plus contracts, a consumer had as much as 11 months AFTER the purchase date to purchase the extended warranty contracts. This was something that was usually NEVER told to the customer. In fact, only after reading the ENTIRE ACTUAL contact, in it's LEGAL size form, did the customer get a chance to actually read this. So, you in-effect have almost a year to decide if you want extended warranty service after buying the item in question. Now, whether the contract covered pre-existing conditions, I am sketchy at best on this. I can say, that some pre-existing conditions were sometimes covered, depending on whether the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) performed service or not. At times, GE-Zurich would perform the service, and charge the OEM for the costs later, recooping the cost in the long run. But these were exceptions and not the rule.

So, always remember this:

Ignorencia de la legge, non excusat. (Ignorance is no excuse).
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

GE Zurich is a total rip-off, don't even buy it from the people at Circuit City. GE TREATED THEIR EMPLOYEES LIKE DOGS.

AUTHOR: Flpru - (U.S.A.)

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#3 UPDATE Employee

GE is the fraud

AUTHOR: Matt - (U.S.A.)

Just so you know the pretty brochure, and contract you signed is designed and printed by GE, and sent by GE to Office max. And isn't it convienient that after Office Max gave GE the boot and got a new company to back Max Assurance the consumer complaints on this site have gone away. And the new Max assurance is still sold by those same supposed "deceptive" emplayees.
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#4 Consumer Comment

Office Max dropped GE-Zurich

AUTHOR: Stefan - ()

Obviously Office Max is aware of the fraudulent practices of GE Zurich - they don't do business with GE Zurich anymore.
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

Poor victimized GE Zurich

AUTHOR: Anonymous - ()

I totally agree with you, Mr. Mystery writer:

everybody should get a notarized statement before buying anything, especially when buying a contract from GE Zurich which is comparable to a Porsche 911 with 0 miles for $ 5,-.

Believing a sales brochure should be punished by law because this victimizes companies like GE Zurich which are so honest and never meant to cheat anybody. It is only because there are some bad, bad companies like Office Max which print bad lies in their sales brochures and poor GE Zurich can not do anything against it.

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#6 UPDATE Employee

Here is an idea.

AUTHOR: Anonymous - ()

The salesmen say anything... here is a suggestion.

Call the warranty company before you buy the contract. It's really simple.

I understand how salesmen work all to well, but if someone told you that person x is selling a car and it has 3 miles on it and it's 1 year old and that there only selling it for 2 dollars... would you not ask person x themselves before buying it? Come on, of course you would.

But then again, were talking about 'people shouldn't lie'. We don't live in a utopia. We have not evolved that far, and probably never will.

And no, of course ... why would anyone call the warranty company to confirm what the salesman says... the salesman sounds like he knows what he is talking about. The salesman probably even says the contract is with the same company he works for. Boy oh boy, what salesmen are fly when they get a cut.

Ok, so my question is... how can you blame GEZWM for this? Who really told you the wrong information? -think-
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#7 UPDATE EX-employee responds

All logic goes out the window at GEZWM

AUTHOR: James - ()

How can a person describe a company with a turnover rate over 100% per annum? A company that hires smart and eager techs and beats them down to disgruntled script readers that spend half the phone call hitting their mute buttons so they can call the "customer" rude and vulgar names.

The good techs get fired early on as a rule because they question the many idiotic things they are required to do. This leaves a rotating door of new help. God love em...they haven't got a clue when they hit the floor.

All calls are recorded, and every minute detail of the call is now dissected and scored. The average handle time is always the big concern. 15 minutes the goal - anything over 19-20 minutes is a problem.

I figure if you handled the call following the latest scripting format a tech will spend 10 minutes just jumping thru their hoops. leaving a comfortable 5 minutes to try and walk some poor caller thru the miriad of troubleshooting techniques that the company requires. This is where the "punt" comes in, and many techs use any means they can to get off the call, keep their call time down, and not get scolded during the unending one on one performance reviews. Usually given by the tech's "Team Leader". The team leader is a tech that couldn't take it anymore so he/she now spends the day listening to other techs take calls.

What a terrible shame this company is as it is. The big wigs will tell you on the side that GEZWM is not in the service buisiness, instead it is in the insurance buisiness. True. And when they finally send out an onsite tech to hopefully fix the computer, chances are the part he brought is bad. It was yanked out of a returned system, and insurance odds determine a certain amount of these parts will work. Base the bottom line on this. Screw everything else.

They spread the word whenever a Circuit City big shot, or GE corporate is coming to visit. Everybody must clean their cubicle. Childish crap is hung from the ceiling and posters with catchy positive motivation are placed at the right parts of the building. Blame is always rested at the foot of the consumer or some sales person at Circuit City-or wherever.

Wink-Wink - yeah-sure...our sales people would never want the retail sales folks to lie to sell a contract...wink-wink. Once again, what a shame.It helps no-one, hurts many. I enjoyed helping the elderly and the country folks. Good people that like myself want to believe in the goodness of others.

We go in eyes wide open and a handshake is as good as any contract written. Sadly, this means nothing to the bean counters. I still think that if you treat people decent, do the same with your employees, and offer prompt accurate service, people will beat a path to your door.

It's not real complicated - I learned about it in Sunday school when I was about 3-4 years old. I made many close friendships at GEZWM. Brothers and Sisters in arms I guess. Hang in there guys - don't forget that the caller could be your mom or dad. To the callers - 99% of the techs hired on with best intentions, and have been placed in a deplorable -disgusting situation. Run away! Run away fast!
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#8 UPDATE Employee

So whom are you putting the blame on?

AUTHOR: Anonymous - ()

Sounds more like Office Max's deceptive sales person ripped you off, and not G.E.-Zurich themselves.
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#9 Consumer Comment

Deceptive Sales Brochure

AUTHOR: Stefan - ()

That was very interesting, Andres- what I understand is that it is obviously legal in this country to lie as long as it is in a sales brochure.

I was not even aware that this was not a contract - there is no information that the actual contract is hidden somewhere else and that the information of the "sales brochure" does not have to be right.

I tried to talk to the lady with the scratched record about this because I thought that she would at least apologize for the wrong information printed in the "sales brochure". But obviously they don't care at all or they even have the objective of deceiving customers in order to sell. It is as if they would laugh about the deceived customer "Hahaha- we got you, you didn't read the contract...!"
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#10 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Please Be Careful When Purchasing Warranties

AUTHOR: Andres - ()

I am a former employee of GE Zurich, then known as Computer Support Plus. I would like to give alittle inside information as to how Extended Warranties work, so this is not an attempt to "blame" or unfairly criticize any particular party.

Extended Warranties are typically sold at the retail level by many stores across the nation. The stores sell these contracts, but seldomly actually administer them themselves. Most of the time, administering and honoring the warranty is done by the warranty vendor themselves; in this case, GE Zurich. The retail store is only acting as a third party in selling the contract. This is critical. Both parties make a profit in this business. Most extended warranties take effect AFTER the manufacture's warranty has taken effect. That part of the complaint is correct in most cases.

Here is where the situation gets tricky. The "yellow brochure" that you are referring to is just that, a sales brochure. It is not a legally binding contract. At the time of my employment, Office Max did have the "pink document" in place, and some contracts, the Terms and Conditions were printed on the back of the sales reciept. These were the Terms and Conditions that the Extended Service Provider will consider to be legally binding. If one takes the time to read them, they are VERY open ended. Most do not even specifiy a time frame for service to be performed. Oftentimes, you are correct in that you were not asked to sign the "contract" at the store. You may have been told that you will receive the contract by mail. Most stores probably do not even have the actual contract in the store, even if you wanted to sign it.

That is why so many people have dissatisfaction with Extended Warranties. Seldom is the actually contract available at the time of payment, and agreement. Sadly also, most consumers will not take the time to read what they are signing even if it were available. Oftentimes, the sales people overstate the benefits of purchasing the contract. This is to say that both the Retailer and the Warranty Company share in some of the blame. Oftentimes, I had to disappoint consumers whose expectation were set too high by the retailer. Even more disturbing is that there is no incentive to make the terms and conditions more clear and accessible b/c both parties are in the business of selling contracts at all cost, b/c the profit margin is so high on them.

The best way to handle this is to resist the sales pressures, and demand to see the actual contract itself, not a sales brochure. Most retailers may tell you that the extended service plan has to be purchased THAT DAY. This is not true either. Most retailers will gladly take your money for as long as the product is in manufactures warranty. Most service plans have that stipulation that says they can be purchased while still in MFG warranty. If they cant show you the contract, be aware... We as consumers also need to understand that these extended warranties are legally binding contracts, and should be alittle more informed of what we are agreeing to.

Respectfully Yours:
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