Of what value is the warranty on a technology device to me?

Saturday, December 11th, 2010 | technology

Many people are surprised when they knock a laptop off a table, or drop a data projector, and the vendor tells them that the warranty does not cover the repair of the item.  This refusal raises questions about the value of warranties.

What is a warranty?  It is a guarantee given by a vendor to you, the buyer of the device, stating that the product is reliable and free from defects and that the vendor will – without charge – repair or replace defective parts within a given time limit and under certain conditions.

Three things should be noted in this definition of a warranty:

Free from defects:  The equipment comes to you as a new product and you can expect it to be in perfect working order.

Within a given time limit:  The warranty period is always stipulated.  In most cases it is one year, but special deals for extended warranties can often be negotiated.  It is in your own interest to start using the item as soon as possible – from the moment you take ownership of it the warranty period is ticking away.

Under certain conditions:  You must understand the warranty conditions – these are often found in the “small print” of the warranty certificate.  To protect themselves, vendors state clearly under which conditions the warranty will not be honoured.  It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand these exclusions.  Take note of where the repairs will be done: at your site, at the vendor’s premises, or must the equipment be sent away to the manufacturer?

A warranty is of great value to you.  It gives you peace of mind – if the equipment breaks down owing to a manufacturer’s fault, it will be fixed at no cost to you.  The warranty does not free you of the responsibility to look after it.  When you read the warranty conditions, you will note that all of them imply that you undertake to take good care of the item.  You can’t expect the vendor to fix your machine if, for instance, you: 

  • bump or drop it
  • scratch or damage the surface through rough handling
  • fiddle with the delicate parts
  • allow an unauthorized person to fix or upgrade it.

In general, technology vendors honour warranty agreements – you are likewise expected to honour your commitment to take care of your equipment.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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3 Comments to Of what value is the warranty on a technology device to me?

Mark C
Saturday, 11 December, 2010

I have done warranty checks on behalf of CEI/Khanya at schools for a few years now. In many labs there a few things that malfunction before the three-year warranty expires. Here are just a few points:
(a) Schools don’t know or don’t worry about the three year warranty. The warranty will actually work in their favour nobody (except the Khanya Project) checks the documentation.
(b) Within the three year period any malfunctioning device must be fixed or replaced. Schools let this go by even if we who do the warranty checks a month or two in advance, explain the implications of inaction.
(c) After sales service is important and the warranty is part of it.
(d) With warranty checks at schools we do what we can to fix problems simple networking problems as well as identifying internal hardware failures. The latter we refer to a third party to ensure that the vendors tend to the problem. How the follow-up process proceeds from this is a bit of a mystery as some issues are solved and others not? The school also should have the responsibility to follow up because in the old end they sit with old/malfunctioning equipment.
(e) Who fixes the problem? It is the vendor’s responsibility to fix the hardware problem, but if they are not informed how do they fulfill their end of the warranty? It is usually left to the CEI technician or the facilitator to fix (this is after the warranty has expired).
(f) It is disheartening to see also that the vendor taking very long to fix a problem which should be dealt with in a week or two. Some vendors take up to six months citing lack of parts, etc. etc. They should have a swop-out policy so that the problem is sorted out within a week. The problematic unit can be sent away for fixing/replacement.
(g) General lack of knowledge. The knowledge of warranties and how they work do not seem to lie with the schools but the technical staff at CEI. The rest of the other shareholders have some pieces of knowledge. The issue is that the schools should know. I’m sure the project managers explained this at the start before the ICT equipment were installed. The problem here is that the schools do not take ownership of the labs. It still belongs to the department/CEI /Khanya.

Currently we do warranty checks at schools because we do not want schools to lose out what is rightfully theirs. Our process in our district is to request the info from our office or the office sends it. We do a physical check of every computer. Then we fix what we can (not in contravention of the warranty). We inform the school of the problem experienced and explain what needs to be done. We inform our technicians, our district coordinator, our fellow facilitators and our project support office. Somebody still needs to fix the outstanding warranty problems. If nobody else follows up, what happens next?

[...] Of what value is the warranty on a technology device to me? | Kobus van Wyk [...]

Kobus van Wyk
Sunday, 12 December, 2010

Mark, thanks for those valuable and practical comments. You are making an important point: in general, schools are losing out by not taking advantage of warranties. Everyone is concerned about “sustainability” of technology in schools. Cashing in on warranties is one of the small ways (sometimes not so small!) in which schools can make their technology installations sustainable.

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