PC Warranties

PC Warranties: Checklist and other considerations

PC warranties: Checklist

1. Warranties come in many types. Most of them will protect the monitor, the case itself, all of its internal parts, but may not cover the keyboard or mouse, so always read the warranty before you buy a computer, especially an extended warranty, which, if possible, you should avoid purchasing, because they are usually a waste of money. Many people fork out for a five-year extended warranty for a computer or other goods when it is highly likely to be redundant technology before the end of the warranty, and pay almost as much for it as for the goods themselves. Indeed, with the falling price of electronics, they often pay more for the extended warranty than it would cost to replace the purchase a few years later.

2. Any computer manufacturer that tells you in writing that it will come to your home to carry out repairs, might try to evade its responsibilities by using the excuse that the company has no local technicians based in your area of the country. If you have purchased a computer with an on-site warranty, the company has to send someone to repair it where it is, even if that means having to hire a local technician to do the work.

3. If something goes wrong with the computer, if you open the case without permission, the warranty will be rendered voided immediately. If the computer company gives you permission to remove a component and install a replacement that it will send to you without rendering the warranty void, obtain the permission in writing before you do anything, and then charge the company for your labour.

4. Always call the technical support staff at the computer manufacturer’s premises, and inform them of any problems you are experiencing. Write down the date, time, whom you talked to, their personal reference numbers if they have them. If they instruct you to open the computer’s case, write down the date, time, who told you to do this, and the reason for doing so. If they ask you to do anything inside the case itself, create a complete written record of the instructions you are given. Ideally, you should make recordings of telephone conversations, because even if you write to the company, you will probably only receive a telephone call in response. You can buy or download free software that allows you to channel telephone calls through a computer that can be recorded. This could be very important later on if you have to make a claim, or initiate legal action.

5. If the company sends you replacement components, if you didn’t return the faulty components before they sent replacements, you must remember to return the faulty components immediately, and they will have to reimburse you for the shipping costs. If they don’t, you can demand a return of the shipping costs. If you fail to return the faulty components, you can be in breach of contract, and they can charge you for the new parts and the shipping costs for them. Moreover, always remember to send any components back by recorded delivery!

6. Always be persistent, and never act on any advice that involves having to pay any costs yourself for correcting any problems that are not recoverable.

Upgrading a CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive’s firmware: possible warranty implications

An optical CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive’s firmware is the built-in software that manages the drives behaviour. It works in much the same way as the motherboard’s BIOS and affects the capabilities and performance, such as the read and write speeds for a CD/DVD format. Note well that for most modern drives the firmware is upgradable, which allows the manufacturers to keep their drives up to date as well as make improvements in format support. If a firmware upgrade is available from the manufacturer’s site, all you have to do is download the file and install it by executing that file. However, you should read the documentation that came with the drive before you upgrade the firmware, because doing so can render its warranty invalid. A site that provides firmware upgrades is: http://forum.rpc1.org.

If the company providing a warranty stops trading…

Always remember that if the concern stops trading, the warranty is not worth the paper it is written on. Even some of the biggest and best known vendors have gone out of business, or have been taken over or absorbed into another concern, which also usually renders the warranty void. You will be relying on the new concern’s good will to provide warranty cover, not on the law, because the company that issued the warranty is no longer in existence.

Always read the terms and conditions

I will say it again – read the terms and conditions of the warranty and the company’s sale-and-return policies before you make a purchase! – The terms and conditions are different in every country and even within every state within a country, such as the USA.

For example, you may have purchased a second-hand computer that is still within its warranty period. You may or may not be entitled to transfer the warranty to yourself, depending on the terms and conditions of the warranty. Some desktop and laptop computer manufacturers make the ease of transferring the warranty a selling point. Usually, but not always, it is just a matter of changing ownership with the manufacturer to transfer the warranty. The transfer can often by done online.

The terms and conditions of the warranty can also inform you if the warranty is valid if you don’t return the warranty registration form to the manufacturer. Most manufacturers require the form to be returned in order for the warranty to be valid, because that way they know when the machine was purchased and can calculate when the warranty expires. However, a two-year warranty is now a statutory requirement in the EU countries, However, remember that the UK is no longer a member of the EU.

In the UK, the Sales of Goods Act applies to goods and services bought on or before September 30 2015. The Consumer Rights Act applies to goods and services bought from October 1 2015. Go to the top of this article for links to Which? guides on both Acts.

Read the documents in the store, or take copies home, or ask the company to send you copies via e-mail or fax if you intend to by online with a credit card.

Using a credit card is the best method of payment, because of the additional security doing so provides. You usually have the right to order the credit card company to refund the cost, or force the company to fulfil the terms of the purchase contract if it fails to do so satisfactorily.

In this age of e-mail and the fax, when intending to make a purchase online, you should be able to obtain a copies of the warranty and sale-and-return policies from the company concerned before you enter into a binding contract.

Also beware of concerns that provide a payment-free period, of say, a year, nine, or six months.

The scam is that if you do not pay the full amount for the purchase immediately after the payment-free period, it is part of the contract for a hire-purchase finance house to deal with the payment – and you will be charged the full interest on the purchase, even if the payment is one day over the settlement period, or one penny or cent short. These people are relying on the fact that most people are guaranteed to forget about this kind of thing, so they know that they are going to get their high level of interest most of the time even though they have used the hook of an interest-free period. You are never sent a reminder warning that the payment is due and what will happen if the deadline is not met.

Moreover, if something goes wrong with the item or items purchased, you could be told to deal with the finance company. The finance company will then tell you that the vendor is responsible for servicing guarantees and warranties. The vendor will then often not take any action unless you threaten it with legal action. They try this scam out on the elderly in particular, because they are often the easiest people to confuse or intimidate. The salesman that dealt with the purchase will have noted the age of the person he or she is dealing with. Hard to believe, but some vendors do act in this way regardless of the bad publicity it is likely to generate.

Do not be fobbed off in this way! The vendor you purchased the PC from is responsible for dealing with any repair or service problems according to the guarantee or warranty, regardless of how the payment is being handled. A concern cannot escape from its responsibilities by handing over the collection of the payment to a hire-purchase finance house. After all, if you purchase a car from a dealer on HP, the dealer is responsible for the warranty, not the HP company. The best action to take if this happens to you is threaten the vendor with the trading standards authority that exists in every developed country.

Page 4.  – Extended warranties