“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” says Murphy’s Law, which is especially true when it comes to medical alert equipment. Seniors might absentmindedly spill a cup of coffee on the help button or the base station could fall out of their hands while trying to relocate it. Or it could be other issues that arise, such as thieves snatching an expensive mobile button along with a purse. A faulty, damaged, or lost medical alert system presents a hole in the senior’s safety net that needs to be immediately fixed, and that’s what the warranty is for, right? Well, not really, since claiming a refund is a tricky mistress, with companies being strict on what kind of damage can warrant a free replacement.
Limited or Standard Warranty
In cases where a medical alert company advertises a warranty for its products, it typically lasts for one or two years from the date of purchase and provides protection against a limited number of circumstances. For example, if the device arrives to your doorstep damaged or it doesn’t work properly after installation, then the company will send a free replacement. Whether or not you will need to pay for the shipping of this depends on the provider in question, but in most situations you should expect an uphill battle to prove that it wasn’t you who caused the damage.
The most frequent reason that someone might need the warranty is to request a battery replacement. The help buttons, pendants and the portable base stations come with a built-in battery that can be only replaced by the company. Don’t tinker with the unit yourself because this will violate any warranty; contact the operators via phone instead and ask for this to be resolved. This process will again involve sending the equipment back and waiting for a new one to arrive, although most companies pay the shipping fee in these cases. Unfortunately, factory flaws and battery swaps are the only major faults that are covered by a standard warranty.
If the limited warranty doesn’t cover damaged or stolen objects, then what can be done to avoid paying a hefty fee for the replacement? Don’t worry, since medical alert companies will have you covered with a small insurance fee, usually called something like ‘premium’ or ‘premiere’ protection. This is basically either a small subscription or a one-time charge to receive an extended warranty, but the term ‘premium protection’ certainly has a better ring to it. By deciding to pay for this you’ll become eligible for one cost-free replacement, now covering a wider range damages and even theft.
Premium warranties come in many flavors depending on the company selling them. Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical charge an extra $5 per month, though the latter will also send through a surge protector as a gift too. Other providers might ask for a one-time payment or include a full warranty as part of a higher-tier subscription plan. Mind you, paid warranties won’t guarantee an infinite number of replacements and after the first one you will need to arrange another option, otherwise you’ll be fined if the device breaks again.
Do I Really Need Expensive Coverage?
This is a tricky question. Accidents can happen when you least expect them, and the purpose of a warranty is to safeguard the owner from paying a hefty fee. On one hand, $5 per month is far less severe than paying $350 as compensation, but if nothing does happen to the device then the extra fee might feel like a waste of money. To give a more useful answer, consider the person the medical alert system is intended for and the type of equipment they will be using. If you buy the system for a senior who is accident-prone, then it goes without saying that premium protection is necessary.
Elderly patients suffering from dementia are likely to forget where they placed the help button, in which case it might be safer to order multiple pendants or wristbands. However, should the aging relative still be in top shape physically and mentally and wants to avoid spending too much, then it’s worth the risk of not added extra protection. Just make sure to highlight the costs involved, and therefore the importance of taking care of the medical alert unit.
Best Medical Alert Systems of 2019
|Editor's Choice 2019|