We have all been there, haven’t we? We have a new appliance or device at home and then suddenly out of nowhere, it just stops functioning. You recently spent $700 on that thing and now it doesn’t work. What should you do? It’s under a warranty, right? It should be fixed! Should you return it and get another one? Can you return it? What happens if it gets repaired? Deciding whether to repair or replace it is an expensive guessing game.
One thing that’s important to know is that you don’t have to throw good money after bad. Repairing items isn’t always the best way to get an appliance or item to work properly again. Let’s take a look at some facts from a Consumer Reports study published in January 2014. They surveyed nearly 30,000 subscribers who own dozens of specific items of varying age to see what they did when an item needed a repair or replacement and they discovered several interesting things.
Items such as TV’s and computer laptops are breaking down and needing repair less often that they did just 5 years ago. If that is true, why does it feel to us as if it happens so frequently? The answer to that is that all of the electronic things we buy and use like TV’s and computers have become more technologically complex than their generational predecessors and they have slowed down their faulty performance rates. But when they do have a problem, they have a dramatic memorable failure, which comes weeks or months after purchase and it’s a shocking surprise! About 53% of the items that have any problem in the first year of ownership have a complete failure and most of all items do not have any at all. Of course when you buy any electronic or expensive item you need to do a little research to find out the information about its performance history.
When checking Consumer Reports, you can research the models, accessories, and the performances of almost every model sold by brand and rate of repair and failure. You’ll also find all warranty information and even find extended warranty information. In addition you can research manufacturer websites and private feedback boards designed for people to discuss issues and make better decisions about what they can do if a problem occurs.
If you have a warranty in effect, it is a requirement to use the warranty and repair the item unless the retail store or the manufacturer waives that procedure. Going outside of the warranty will usually nullify it for future incidences. But do warranty repairs actually increase customer satisfaction?
The answer depends on the repairmen and all the usual particulars like age, experience, training level, and familiarity with the problem. If it’s a well-documented issue they can make it go away and save you money over an outside repair bill.
On the other hand…when my wife and I moved into my current home, we replaced all the kitchen appliances (which were way overdue for replacement). Everything went along smoothly for a few months until we began having various issues with the dishwasher. It was under warranty so we had it repaired not once, but twice, and despite lots of communication with the manufacturer, it never was returned to its original glory. The problems had gotten so bad that I was handwashing all the dishes for at least a year before we bit the bullet and purchased a new one from a different manufacturer.
Rule of Thumb to Remember
Never spend more than 50% of the cost of an item for a repair, and if it’s a second repair and out of warranty, it pays to just replace that item.
Further results of the Consumer Reports survey said that 77% of all repairs to electronic or motorized items were covered under the free warranty during the first 30-365 days of its coverage. Contracts for repair under an extended warranty amounted to less than 15% of all repairs and have proven not to be a good investment to buy. The average cost of all of these extended warranties is about 15% more than the cost of the repairs themselves!
Often the best way to handle product problems may be DIY, or Do It Yourself! Information for DIY repairs can be found in places like YouTube videos, manufacturer comment boards, and manuals that come with the products, as well as numerous other websites handling specific DIY home repair information. Look there first before anyplace else to save money and time. Just remember, that if you go the DIY route, you’re likely voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
In summary, the best advice is to consider these 3 big concerns before a decision is made to repair or replace anything that breaks down.
- How much does the item cost to replace?
- Is it covered under a free warranty repair and will it be returned to its ultimate best performance? Or what is the cost of an out-of-warranty repair?
- Does the age of the item mean that new technology would replace the item and provide even better results than fixing the broken one with limited cost?
Home appliances, motorized equipment, and computer items and accessories are becoming an ever-increasing requirement in our daily lives. The good news is that they are pretty reliable. The bad news is that when they not, they will dramatically fail. That’s exactly why you have to look at these questions before you take any action!
Have you had some issues with big purchase appliances or devices? Did you have a warranty or an extended warranty to cover repair and or replacement? What would you do if this happens to you?
Image courtesy of Mister GC at freedigitalphotos.net (with changes)