Do You Know Your Computer Warranty Details?

Literally 1000's of computer technicians worldwide derive their income from providing onsite computer warranty repair services. With the decline in price of computers in general, fewer extended type warranties are being sold. These warranties can be expensive. The justification for not purchasing one of these warranties, is that the consumer, in their mind say "I'll Just buy another $300.00 computer if it breaks".

What they don't realize, is that there are reasons that make it possible to produce a computer that cheaply. As consumers, we are being "victimized" by mass production. Even though manufacturers can consistently produce a quality product through use of automation, there is always going to be a percentage of components that are either dead on arrival or fail prematurely. Even a random check of a small percentage of these items will not ferrett out all the failures before the consumer gets thier hands on it. It would not suprise me if in many cases, if the decision to ship or not to ship is based on what I call "an allowable rate of failure".

Manufacturers know that it costs more to test something than to let the consumer test it for them. So if random sampling failures, fall into the magic allowable rate of failure, the shipment goes out unchecked.

The Economics of Selling a Computer...

Most people would be suprised to know that computer manufactures really only make pennies on the dollar for selling you a computer. Where the real money to be made is selling other things with thier name on it made buy other manufacturers, Additionally, they sell software, supplies and of course the warranty.

Think of a warranty just like an insurance policy. Just like any insurance policy, that money is invested to make more money. The decline in warranty sales has resulted in a reduction in the available money pool. With less money to work with, the computer manufacturers drive even harder to remain profitable. The effects of that trickels down to the consumer who actually buys the warranty.

With less Money to Work with...

  • The computer manufacturers are paying less to the service providers
  • The service providers have to hire employees (technicians) at lower wage rates
  • Lower paid technicians mean many of them possibly are no more than glorified parts changers...not technicians.
  • Out-Sourced Technical Support to foreign countries by individuals who likely have no field experience or even own a personal computer.
  • Customers being asked to fix the computer themselves,
The last item is of peticular interest to us technicians. Since we derive our income from that end of the business. Here is what the consumer loses when they get talked into fixing the computer themselves when they actually paid for "ONSITE" service under thier warrany agreement:

  • You probably have to be home to sign for the parts. If you are not there or somebody can't sign for the package, a note is often left on the door where you can go and pick it up. This causes a repair delay.
  • You are responsible to remove the defective part.
  • You are responsible to send back the old part. If you don't, you could be billed for the defective part at a rate often exceeding current market price of that item.
  • You lose the opportunity to ask additional questions from possibly a "real" technician who maybe performing this service for you.
  • Onsite technicians often have access to higher levels of support with lower wait times than the consumer does if additional problems are discovered, the wrong parts were sent, or what they sent didn't correct the problem. When the consumer calls back in...let the wait begin!


You deserve to get what you paid for and you should demand it. When you accept to perform component exchanges/repairs yourself, you give the computer manufacturer permission to operate "outside" of the warranty agreement. Whose best interest does this serve?

During the initial troubleshooting experience, you may be asked to remove and re-install parts to determine the source of the problem and decide what parts need to be sent. Your tech support person may use this as an avenue to assure you that you are competant enough to do the repairs yourself. What they don't tell you is that you lose the convenience of scheduling a repair call with your onsite tech who is also responsible for recieving and returning the parts, takes ownership of the problem, and likely has more experience than you in resolving issues.

How much is your time worth?

Fight Back!

Please send this to all your friends who own a computer. Along with that goes the thanks of 1000's of computer technicians worldwide. Our employers may not be able to justify our existence if you do the work.

Where will we be when YOU REALLY need us?

6 responses
The real lesson here is to not buy a $300 computer. Go up a step or two and spend at least $700. The odds of failure are much lower. The useful life of the computer will be longer, both in terms of life expectancy of the parts and obsolescence. Your repair options are better since it probably uses more mainstream parts and may include the warranty you mentioned.After that, it's a bit of gamble. Weigh the cost and service of the warranty vs the odds, cost, and service of needing to replace a part. For any product with an optional warranty, the manufacturer sets the price of the warranty based on known replacement costs and failure rates. They *will* make money selling warranties, even if they lose money in the fewer cases where the customer actually needs to make a claim. This means that statistically warranties should be a poor deal. If you never ever buy the warranty, most of the time you'll come out ahead because most of the time nothing goes wrong. Occasionally you'll have to pay full price for a repair, but it should be offset by all the times you saved on buying a warranty. However, in practice it doesn't quite work that way. A manufacturer can often replace their own part under warranty much more cheaply than a customer can fix it on their own out of warranty. Even if you go through the manufacturer, if you make the repair yourself the manufacturer will now make a profit selling you the replacement part, and perhaps on the technician's time. This can bring the cost of buying warranties more in line with paying for the occasional repair, and makes life more predictable.There are other things to consider as well. For example, a warranty
technician will have a set procedure to follow to replace a part.
He'll do just that job and leave. A third-party technician will be
more amenable to providing additional tasks like data recovery, but
you'll have to pay for them.In general, though, a warranty makes sense when the expected failure rate is higher or when the cost of a repair is out of line with the initial cost of the item. A warranty does not make sense if you have very low expectations of failure or if you are able to do repairs cheaply.When applying this computers, this means you should NOT get a warranty for a desktop computer if you are technically inclined. This is because the parts should at least be guaranteed not to be DOA, and after that failure rates aren't too bad. Additionally, being technically inclined you can probably find the part on your own and provide your own labor, thereby beating the manufacturer's cost. Even if you are less technical you may want to consider a shorter term for desktops (say, two years instead of three) because over time the price of computer parts tends to decline. By the time you have a failure the part will cost less.If you're buying a laptop, definitely get a good warranty no matter who you are. They're near impossible to work on, and you can't get parts off the shelf. This makes repair expensive. And because they go everywhere they get much more wear and the failure rate is high.
Thanks for the reply. Your input definately adds value to my post. I added a bit to the end of the post since you read it.
I hate to say it but I refuse to work on a computer that is still in warranty. They paid for a service that the customer should get. I hate to see a customer of mine basically throw away money for a warranty if they don't use it. With that said, proper customer service is not getting met with the big companies. A big example is Dell, at least recently, where they wanted to give a customer a new hard drive for her laptop and that she would have to install it herself (on a LAPTOP) That to me is just insane. Of course I will take the job to do it for her but because of my charge rates I'm not going to get paid anywhere near what the Dell technician would get paid. But I feel like I'm ripping the customer off by doing the work when they paid for a warranty that it should take care of things like this. The customer gets frustrated, I get frustrated and it just makes Dell look like complete garbage. It just makes my job more difficult when the customer ask's me questions as to why Dell is doing something like this. I can't answer that! Dell is a company where I recommend a lot of my customers to look at when buying a new computer. I almost told another customer to buy an el-cheapo at Walmart. Makes me wonder who is the best now. Bottom line, you get a warranty, you better put your foot down to make sure you get what you paid for. Otherwise technicians like myself have to answer questions that we can't answer ( which makes me look bad because I'm suppose to be an expert that has all the answers) then that makes the big companies look bad. Then the customer spreads the word how they were treated and it spreads. I'm pretty sure that is what killed Gateway. And I used to work for them.
I was doing warranty work on Dell's and wasn't payed all that great by my employer near the end. (got layed off Friday). Dell is doing a Bait and Switch. They sell onsite warranty but get people to do the work themselves or NOW they are requesting they send it in for Depot Repair.
Personally, some customers don't mind this but a breach of contract shouldn't be initiated by the people who have to honor it. Dell is taking advantage of people not knowing what thier warranty actually entails.
Actually though the low prices are killing that part of the business. This effects all the computer makers.
I will work on a warranteed computer on a clients behalf if they want me to be the techsupport liason and pay my rate. I usually advise them what it may cost though.
O, well, thank`s for the article that you wrote your article! A lot of time I was trying to find some new material for me, and I guess I have it thanks to you. Thank`s once more. I will be waiting for exciting articles from you.
I almost forgot about this. It is several months old. Are you a professional writer or put out a newsletter or something?