Sunday, December 2, 2012

Computer Gambling (and not supporting local business)

Nope. This post isn't about online gambling.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to have to take my laptop in for a warranty claim. I tried to do that yesterday except that it turns out that PB Technology's Auckland City branch and Penrose branch don't share databases - so no proof of purchase.

Anyway, when I showed them the issue, the guy looked a little surprised. "Did you drop something on it?"

Ah crap. They're going to dispute that it's a warranty issue...

This got me thinking about the whole process. Currently, if something breaks and it's still under warranty, you take it into the store and, in the case of computers, they send it away to a "service provider". If the service provider disputes the cause of damage, you're left to pay a bill. Usually about what they charge for an hour of their time.

Under the Consume Guarantees Act, we're afforded certain rights including an expectation that your purchases last a "reasonable" time BUT as far as I know, no one has ever really fought for these rights. Why? The time taken to dispute these things is worth far more than the cost of repair or replacement. So we're stuck with extended warranties and the like.

But what does a warranty really get you? The power is ALL in the service provider's court. If they decide it's not a warranty fault you've really got no recourse. You're stuck paying for an hour of their time which is probably more than the cost of the parts needed.

In my case, I could take it to Penrose and take the gamble as to whether it'll be covered under warranty (even though the problem has occurred from normal usage) OR buy the parts needed off eBay and do the repair myself.

Unfortunately, I don't know the odds. A free repair under warranty or paying silly amounts for work I could do myself (at least $80) vs. the certainty of doing the repair myself - $50 worth of parts.

And about supporting local businesses. I've found myself buying a bunch of things off eBay. Things like electronic components. I know I can get these things in New Zealand and support New Zealand businesses, but honestly, they need to pick up their game.

It's no longer enough to just have things to sell - not given that a lot of those things are now accessible directly from manufacturers. Retailers now have to start thinking about the service around such things. For example, a battery for my laptop from China cost around $35 whereas the cheapest ones off Trademe run at around $80 delivered.

What are you really getting for the extra money? A warranty? What's that worth really?

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