Is your computer down for the count? Are you desperate to get it working again? Ask your computer repair service these 7 things before hiring them.
You walk to the computer, hit the power button (or tap a key to wake it up for the savvy user) and nothing happens. You jiggle what you can, reset what doesn't jiggle and try again. Fear sets in.
Then the tough decision has to be made, do you replace the device or repair it?
The world of computer repair occupies an unenviable position within the broader scope of electronics. Less expensive devices, mass produced and sold cheaply like televisions are cheaper to replace than repair. Smartphones have some hope that a repair will be less costly than replacement.
The computer? That could go either way. So, let's look at some questions about computer repair to find out more.
Computer Repair Quicklist
The average price of computers has been creeping up in the past 5 years after years of price drops. There are a few key reasons for this such as the median point of technology power and reliability stabilizing.
This is more than some televisions and less than some phones. However, many of the individual parts of a computer are distinct units. Unlike a television or phone, which tend to have specific space and power structures to meet, computers were designed to be expanded.
This makes repairs far more reasonable as the replacement cost of a single component comes in lower than the whole machine. Even better, a new component a few years later could have better performance than the original.
So, how do you determine if a computer repair professional is more likely to help than not? Let's find out.
1. What About Guarantees and Warranties?
Repairs and services need to have some level of guarantee to be worth the associated risk. A new unit will have a warranty for between 1 and 3 years. Repairs should guarantee the same time frames on parts that are replaced.
Some guarantee that the issue has been resolved and will stay resolved for six months to a year is also expected. This last part can be tricky, however. The nature of computers is that they have many parts and each part is, as mentioned, a distinct unit.
This means that failure in one part doesn't mean failure in any other part is likely. The parts of a computer are connected though, which means some failures will affect other parts.
This is why repair and service centers have policies on what parts they cover and for how long and the time frames will not always seem congruent. Remember that power supplies have the longest warranties and RAM has the shortest and go from there.
2. Do They Have Certifications and Credentials?
Increasingly, companies look to have official branded repair and service centers. These offer aftermarket confidence to consumers. They also give manufacturers a way to more quickly deal with issues such as recalls.
Ask about certifications from organizations that deal with IT hardware and software. Much like an auto-mechanic, a certification shows a basic understanding of the underlying systems. This gives some standardization to repairs and work done.
Service centers will be proud to boast about their credentials as they take time and money to obtain. Plus they also show a dedication to the industry.
3. Is Work Done on Hourly or Flat Rates?
This is a tricky question. Hourly rates are applicable for some tasks, but not others. Some repair centers work with an hourly rate that separates diagnostics from labor and others offer flat fees for each. The pricing structures reflect best business practices for the individual company.
Essentially, a center that does a lot of one type of work is more likely to offer a flat fee. This reflects the expertise in knowing how long a task takes and the typical amount of labor involved.
Diagnostics is the most common hourly rate because it can take unexpected time to find some problems. With computers, some of the diagnostic testings can take several hours and require a person to be watching carefully to spot the issue.
For purposes of part replacement, you may know enough to assemble or replace a part without understanding how to find an error. When it comes down to it, it is always cheaper to do a task yourself (if you are capable). So piecemeal pricing structures help.
4. How do Prices Reflect Parts and Labor?
A service and repair center makes money from finding and fixing problems. Labor prices should reflect the time and effort (and expertise) required to complete a task.
Pricing on parts should be generally close to standard for the component. While some repair centers may be able to buy in bulk to lower prices, many will be buying from the same warehouses and stores you could find. Normally a replacement part is agreed on before work is completed.
This is especially important in the computer industry as replacing the same component might be impossible. The same make and model of a part may no longer be findable because of constant technology obsolescence and small runs.
5. How Is Data Protection Handled?
Handing over a computer to be repaired can have some unexpected impacts on a business or a home. Many people store photos and files that they would be sore to lose. Businesses obviously need their data protected from theft and loss.
Repairing a computer can run some risks of data being destroyed. To this end, many service centers have data recovery and backup policies. These will help ensure no loss of data or that they can recover lost data.
6. How do They Track Changes?
Good service centers will have an upfront policy about how the track changes to a computer. This ensures that they can follow the same steps if another problem arises. This also keeps your valuable components from winding up in other machines.
This also helps the center to anticipate your needs when it comes to repeated use or upgrades.
7. Do They Make House Calls?
While some people prefer to drop off a computer and then collect it later, sometimes you need that computer up and running. If you work from home or have a business with valuable and confidential data, you might want to keep the computer in-house.
When it comes to the topic of computer repair there is a lot to know to make every machine optimal. Fortunately, you only need to know to ask these 7 questions to make an informed decision about what repair center is right for you.