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Extended service plans are expensive. They can boost your costs by 30 percent or more and can run into hundreds of dollars. And Consumer Reports' surveys find that If you pay for a repair yourself, there's a better chance that it's going to be done correctly and quicker than if you had it repaired under contract.

Consumer Reports says better than buying a service plan is paying with a credit card. Many cards automatically extend the manufacturer's warranty up to a year, so check your terms.

Calling the manufacturer can pay off, too. Just because the manufacturer's warranty has expired doesn't necessarily mean that you're out of luck. If you contact the manufacturer and make a good argument, there's a good chance the company will pay for part or all of the repair.

Consumer Reports says the one possible exception to the "No Extended Warranty Rule" is when buying a laptop. If you're going to travel with it a lot, Consumer Reports says you may want to consider an extended warranty that covers accidental damage.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.