What's the purpose of an extended warranty? The consumer, and the seller of the warranty, may have two different ideas.

“On April 11,2011 I called Home Depot Extended Warranty for service on my ice-maker, they told me they were having trouble locating service for my area,” Joy of Sopchoppy, Fla., told ConsumerAffairs.com. “They said someone would call me back within 24-48 hours.”

But Joy says they didn't call. She said she called again on April 13 and was told they were still having trouble locating service in her area. They would call her back, they said.

“On April 15 I called and they told me they could not find anyone and that I could find my own service and they would reimburse 250 dollars. I declined that offer,” Joy said.

On and on it went. Finally, in late April, Joy said someone was found to service her refrigerator under the extended warranty. But getting them there was another thing entirely.

“On Monday, April 25, the service guy from A & E called me at work around 10 and said he would be at my home in approx. 30 minutes,” Joy said. “That was done with out any contact with me. I work in a hospital and cannot just leave when I want to. The service guy said he would reschedule me for the next Monday.”

Joy said she called on Friday, April 29 to confirm the service call and learned the wouldn't be coming until May 2.

“I called customer relations to see what had happened and she said she would check into it and get back to me,” Joy said. “No call back! Not one person has ever called me back!”

The last we heard, the guy didn't show up on May 2, either.

The disappearing extended warranty

While we're on the subject of extended warranties, here's a story from Jennifer, of Pompano Beach, Fla., who purchased two air conditioners from Ubid.com back in September of 2009.

“I was told by the sales person that if I purchased the three year extended warranty for them that they would be covered for anything,” Jennifer said. “When I left there, I was given only a sales receipt and a pamphlet for the extended warranty through Banker’s Warranty Group.”

When one of the units broke down, Jennifer called the number listed on the receipt, getting in touch with Ubid.com, who told her she needed to contact Banker's Warranty Group.

“I contacted them, but they have absolutely nothing on me nor my purchase,” Jennifer said. “BWG even told me that they canceled warranties from them and refunded Ubid, but I never saw anything back from them! When I called Ubid back, they say that their hands are tied and there is nothing they can do.”

Jennifer paid for two extended warranties and has absolutely nothing to show for it. If Ubid.com collected money from Jennifer and failed to follow through on the warranty purchase, that could easily be construed as fraud. Jennifer needs to have a chat with someone in Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office if she can't get her money back from Ubid.com.

Jumping to conclusions

We'll say it again. If you use one of those online travel sites, you better be sure your plans aren't subject to change. In the case of Janet, of Seattle, Wash., it wasn't that her plans changed, but the travel site made a mistake.

“I did 'name your own price' on Priceline on April 29 but the dates I put it were changed to the next day, April 30/May 1,” Janet told ConsumerAffairs.com. “I did not catch it until after my bid was accepted. I was not worried because I had paid the extra $5 for trip insurance 'because plans change.'”

Within minutes of receiving the email confirmation that her offer had been accepted, Janet began to try to file a claim with the travel insurance.

“The Priceline website asks you to contact them first then file a claim, so after searching and calling the numbers listed, I have been unable to speak with a live customer service representative,” she said. “I did request a claim form from the Travel Insurance and followed it up with a call. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the only reason I could get a refund using the insurance was if I had a medical issue and that had to be verified by a doctor's note.”

Janet says she made the mistake of “jumping to the conclusion” that the phrase “because plans change” meant something it didn't. Pretty reasonable assumption, if you ask us. Meanwhile, she says she has been unable to talk to anyone who can explain the policy and why it wasn't spelled out more clearly.

“I am frustrated with the lack of help or information available once Priceline gets your money,” she said.

Read your statements carefully

Most of us probably fail to read our bank and credit card statements are carefully as we should. Fortunately, Christopher, of Dixon, Calif., reads his.

“In January 2011, I changed my Bank of America checking account from MyAccess to eBanking to avoid monthly maintenance fees if my checking account were to go below a certain dollar amount,” Christopher said. “There is no minimum balance for eBanking. The only caveat is that you will only be charged with a fee if the account ever deals with a teller.”

But on April 13, he says he was charged with a monthly maintenance fee of $8.95.

“I called Bank of America, BOA, as to why they charged me and they could not give me a reason,” he said. The phone representative told me that there should have been no reason for them to charge me any fee. The refunded me $8.95.”

Christopher doesn't think it was a simple error. He thinks it was purposeful, in hopes he wouldn't notice. He wants to know how many others are charged a wrongful fee and don't catch it, and urges other consumers to read their statements carefully each month. Good advice.