If you have a car, you might notice that once every few months, you get a card from a car dealership. The letter comes via mail, stating that your warranty has expired. Moreover, the dealer may offer an extended warranty at a discount.
But, how legit are these notifications, let alone the offers they sell?
Well, one thing you should know is:
Phony dealers and outright scammers use notification scams to rip off innocent customers.
Let’s learn more about motor vehicle service notification postcard swindles to get you up to speed.
What is a Motor Vehicle Service Notification Postcard?
The service notification postcard is a paper that promises you an extended warranty on your car. It usually comes in the mail with a letter and a discount coupon for a local car service shop.
The idea is:
You can consider their services if you don’t have the time or knowledge to check your car maker’s warranty and extend it. The card may read something like, “Your vehicle may have an expired warranty.“
The problem is that most of these are service offers sent by car dealerships. Even worse, most auto shops aren’t trustworthy and may deny coverage when it comes time for repair.
If you receive a motor vehicle service notification (MVSN) postcard, contact your car maker to see if your warranty has expired and seek advice.
Are Motor Vehicle Service Notification Postcards Legit?
The truth is that there are three types of service notification postcards.
- The first type is a legit service offer from a reputable dealer selling you an extended warranty.
- The second type is from a phony car dealer. These cards misrepresent or give incomplete details about a warranty offer. To your surprise, the fine print may not cover all the promised repair expenses.
- The third one is an outright scam from a fraudster posing as a car dealership selling a genuine warranty.
Nevertheless, most MVSN postcards are scams!
Often, they may include accurate details, e.g., your phone number, vehicle’s make, registration number, and year. However, a closer look may reveal wrong info– e.g., reminders sent before your original warranty expires.
In addition, while some dealers try to offer you a genuine extended warranty, often, the contract does not cover most of the repairs it promises. In the end, you may pay out-of-pocket to fix breakdowns you thought were part of your extended coverage.
If you receive such a notification, do not rush into a deal because it looks affordable. Always double-check the terms and conditions before signing any deal.
Should I Take the Offer?
No! And here’s why:
Most of the time, the postcard senders aren’t related to your car’s original warranty and only want to offer a warranty extension. Therefore, you have every right to decline their proposal.
Generally, you don’t need extended cover unless you want to use your car for heavy labor or keep it for more than a decade.
If your car is still in good shape, it’s better to pay for repairs and regular services out of pocket – this may be less expensive than a service contract not tied to your initial coverage.
So when you receive such a card, check your car’s original papers and see if your warranty has indeed ended. Remember, a car warranty is often stated by the number of miles or years driven rather than the date.
Why Do You Get Motor Vehicle Service Notifications?
Why would you get an unexpected service notification? How did it happen in the first place?
Well, this is the best possible explanation:
The salespeople may suggest a car service contract when you are at a dealership searching for a car. They will argue that this will protect you from any unanticipated costly repairs. Of course, some car buyers accept the offer, while others turn it down. But saying “no” isn’t a problem for dealers. After all, their staff can still refer to visitor records and contact you later.
That’s why visitors who ignore such service contracts receive follow-up letters often. In other words, they are trying to resell you the offer in a manner that catches your attention.
But it doesn’t end there:
- Some dealerships share customer info across the industry: This explains why you may receive notifications from dealers you’ve never visited.
- Also, if fraudsters attack a dealer’s database and steal customer info, all registered car owners may get such postcards.
In short, you will likely get such cards if a dealership or scammer has your name, address, and car’s info.
How Do You Avoid Motor Vehicle Notification Scams?
The best way to avoid MVSN swindles is to look for warning signs. Here are four red flags to watch:
- Poor timing
You know your motor vehicle notification is fraudulent if the timing is poor.
For instance, a reminder long before your warranty expires is a warning sign that someone is targeting you. Such mail may come after signing up for a program or visiting a dealership.
- Mismatching info
The postcard’s info doesn’t match your past car service records, so it isn’t legit.
A dealer must have tracked your car’s service history to claim it needs repair or coverage. Otherwise, the notification is merely marketing mail.
- Lack of/unreachable contact information
If you receive a notification from a dealership, you should be able to contact them with any questions about your warranty.
Your notification may be a swindle if you do not know where to find this information.
- The warranty offer is unclear or doesn’t add up
Always double-check the details of any MSVN you receive. If the extended warranty offer is unclear, it’s a fraud.
For example, If they offer free repairs or services but fail to break down the costs in detail, it’s likely a scam. You may end up paying for expensive repairs down the road.
Is an Auto Service Contract Necessary?
You do not need an extra service contract when purchasing a new automobile. Furthermore, your dealer should not push you to sign this contract if you use car financing.
If they insist you need it, contact your lender to confirm if this applies to your agreement. Failure to do so means you won’t be able to end your service contract once you notice it’s necessary.
Also, be aware of phony dealers who try to slip a service contract into your auto loan without your consent. Ask the dealer to remove it before signing if you see a charge for an unknown service contract.
What Color Should a Motor Vehicle Service Notification Postcard be?
Most motor vehicle notification postcards come with a pink background and black fonts, and other versions have a yellow background and black fonts.
While most MVSN postcards are from legit car dealers, others are from scammers who have access to your confidential info.
Once fraudsters have your data, they look for pre-made MVSN templates and type in your details to create a legit-looking postcard.
When is it Okay to Buy a Vehicle Warranty?
Though you don’t always need vehicle warranties, it is okay to consider it if you buy a used car— primarily if it is sold “as-is” and with no warranty.
Most used vehicles sold as-is have expired warranties. As a result, you will be responsible for any necessary repairs and maintenance. It’s no wonder car dealers offer buyers a service contract within 90 days of buying a used automobile.
Remember, the buyers’ warranty rights are under state rules in the “implied warranties” section. And, while many states ban the sale of used vehicles “as is,” others require the use of specific phrases to protect buyers from implied guarantees. Some states also have laws that make you eligible for a refund if you buy a defective, used vehicle.
Understanding Vehicle Service Contracts/Warranty Extensions
Car service contracts are deals between dealerships and car owners: They cover your vehicle’s maintenance, repair, and service details.
In this offer, an auto dealer promises to pay for specific repair services on your behalf. Car service contracts are also known as “warranty extensions.” Still, the law considers them service contracts instead of warranties.
These contracts save you from expenses due to a faulty car part or mechanical issue and begin after your original warranty expires.
The primary purpose of this contract is to:
- set out your rights as an owner
- outline how you can expect the service provider to perform warranty repairs on your car
- ensure you get the best possible service from the dealership and that they work within their signed budget for repairs
Remember, a dealership must obtain a state permit to issue warranty extensions. If a client asks, the dealer should share a fine print of the extended warranty’s terms and conditions.
What info should you look for in a motor vehicle service contract?
The written agreement is the most critical part of the contract. It sets out all the terms and conditions of your agreement.
The written agreement should include:
- The name and address of the dealer (and if they are a franchisee, where they are franchised)
- What services are included in the contract
- How long does the contract last?
- How much do you need to pay every time you visit their shop (also known as a breakdown fee)
- How often they will check your car for any problems or service needs (also known as an inspection period)
- How often they will do routine services on your vehicle (also known as a service interval)
Remember, contract jargon can be difficult to understand if you are not a lawyer. Hence, discuss any unclear sections with an attorney so you don’t miss crucial points.
Last Words on Motor Vehicle Service Notification Postcard Scams
As you can tell, whether these notifications are “scams” depends on your definition of the word. But a phony offer from a legit supplier is no better than a scammer trying to rip you off.
Furthermore, notification swindles don’t end at extended warranties. Such dealers also know that extended cover clients will likely buy other products, so they make extra money on those. But, when it’s time for an expensive service, they will tell you that the agreement doesn’t cover that issue.