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Utility markets appliance repair plan

May 9, 2000
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The Public Service Co. (PSC) of Colorado is turning the marketing heat up under its “RepairCare” program.

In fliers inserted in December bills, this major supplier of gas and electricity invited its customers to sign up for the plan, which promises prompt access to repairs by licensed professionals for a monthly fee of $11.99 and up, depending on the age and type of appliances.

The coverage has been available for about three years. In that time, more than 10,000 homeowners have bought the coverage, according to an article in the Denver Post.

We have found that RepairCare is a relief to customers, especially in the winter,” Andy Sulkko, manager of the program, told the Post. “If a major appliance is not working, they know they won’t have to pay a large, unexpected repair bill or worry about whom to call for help.”

The program, as expected, has its critics.

“First of all, these maintenance programs prey on people’s fears and lack of information,” said Bill Schroer, a Denver economist and former director of the Colorado Business Alliance, which represents independent service contractors and other small merchants.

“Virtually all of us have good, well-running appliances,” he added. “Sure they break down occasionally, but the average hot water heater lasts 15 years, a furnace maybe 20 years. Consumers should really look at the cost effectiveness of these plans. They may already be covered by warranties to some extent.”

Schroer further pointed out that some dealers will fix appliances free of charge even when the warranties have run out, as a way of generating good will.

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