From cars to clothes -- most of us have noticed that the same items can often cost less in the United States than they do here at home. But as it turns out, there isn't just a product price gap. Some Canadians are finding out that there can be a big gap when it comes to warranties too.

Kenneth Ku bought a Rheem Powervent water heater two years ago. The total price plus installation was $1,600. Ku said while the unit worked fine -- until one day it quit.

"The funny thing is when I called the U.S. office with the serial number and model number they said don't worry about it, it's covered - it's got a six year warranty. They said just phone your Canadian office and they will send you the part," Ku said. 

But when Ku called Rheem Canada he got a different answer. Ku says he was told: "Sorry you're Canadian -- so you're out of luck."

Ku found out the water heater did have a parts warranty in the U.S. of six years -- but the warranty in Canada is only one year. Ku says the company had little explanation for the difference. He believes since it is the exact same unit it should be covered for the same period for a Canadian buyer as an American one.

Ku says: "I don't think it's fair. It's just another way they can say you're out of luck."

Rheem Canada gave CTV News the following statement.

Statement from Rheem Canada:

"Rheem manufactures heating, cooling and water heating products for distribution throughout North America. As is standard practice in the marketplace, these products carry differing warranties and price points by model and region and can also vary by channel. This is not unique between Canada and the U.S., but happens quite often among regions within Canada and within the U.S. as well. Depending on where the consumer purchases the water heater, they may even have the option to purchase an extended warranty, that will further cover their product if they so desire."

-- Dave McPherson, General Manager

Key Points:

  • Many companies have subsidiaries that are responsible for importing, setting the price and providing warranty service for products in different geographic regions
  • If you purchase a product in the U.S., it will come with a U.S. warranty that Canadian subsidiaries may not honour
  • Some companies offer the option of an international warranty valid in most countries for a specific time period such as a year
  • There are also ‘grey market' products that are not imported by the subsidiary, which may come with a third-party rather than an original manufacturer's warranty
  • Warranties on cars, TVs, Electronics, tires and other goods purchased in the U.S. and brought into Canada could have a limited or voided warranty
  • Consumers may be able to buy an extended warranty on a product if the Canadian warranty is less then the American one