What Is a Maintenance Contract?

By Darryl James
A maintenance contract guarantees service at a fixed rate over a period of time.

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A maintenance contract is the written document that sets forth the terms of an agreement between a client and a maintenance service provider. The client can be a consumer who gets a warranty for purchases of mechanical equipment or a landlord who contracts a handyman for servicing a building. The overall purpose for a maintenance contract is to have consistent fees and regular availability of the service provider at a savings over random or emergency calls. By securing a maintenance contract, the holder typically garners savings through the fixed or reduced fees and also gets a regular relationship with a service provider.

Contracted Items

Maintenance contracts are usually secured by consumers for cars and major appliances, including televisions, computers, washers, dryers and refrigerators. Property owners can secure maintenance contracts for the upkeep of their property.

Buildings

Owning rental property means having to pay for broken toilets, problems with tubs and showers as well as electrical repairs. Having a regular maintenance person on site requires a regular salary, in addition to a benefits package, all of which must be paid even when there are no repairs to be made. A maintenance contract with a service provider is far cheaper, requiring a monthly fee that covers repairs that arise unexpectedly. Family homeowners can also purchase home service warranties, which will provide for upkeep of the home at fixed rates.

Equipment

When consumers purchase refrigerators, ovens and other home appliances, a maintenance contract provides for no-cost or low-cost repairs for a specific time period. This gives the consumer a modicum of comfort in purchasing a piece of equipment that could be costly to repair and stress producing if it breaks down soon after the purchase, especially if the purchase costs a lot.

Vehicles

In the case of cars, maintenance contracts come standard with new vehicles, but are becoming more popular for used vehicles as well. When a consumer purchases a used car, he can also purchase an extended warranty or service agreement that will cover major repairs to the engine and drive train of the vehicle at fixed or reduced fees.

Technical Support

Maintenance contracts can also provide technical support if the client is attempting to make a repair or create a resolution of a problem on her own. The contract will provide a specific amount of time with a consultant on the phone walking the client through repairs and updates.

Preventative Maintenance

Some maintenance contracts will provide preventative maintenance to the client, so that purchases can remain in good working order. Regular servicing to clean and adjust a piece of equipment can save the client money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs caused by poor upkeep of the equipment.

Terms

The contract should spell out the length of time the contract is in effect as well as the amount of service calls provided during a specific term (usually a limited number of calls per month). These terms vary and may have limitations on frequency and types of service calls.

About the Author

Darryl James, a syndicated columnist and freelance writer in the Los Angeles area has written for more than 15 years for "New York Newsday," "Pittsburgh Courier," "The Los Angeles Sentinel," "Women's Wear Daily," "Apparel News," "Rap Sheet" and more. James has written books and has just finished his first screenplay.

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