Byte Me Article 405 – IT Warranties

The Worth of a Warranty

Today we progress our Byte Me Mini Series on the A-Z of computer purchase and look at the worth of a warranty as it applies to a desktop or laptop PC.  There are huge variations in the cost and relative worth of warranties in our profession so let’s start to dispel some of the myths.

A typical PC purchased through a chain store will have 12 months manufacturer’s warranty, but what does this actually cover?  It will only cover a physical manufacturing defect – like a dead pixel in the screen or a faulty keyboard or a failing hard drive.  It will not cover fixing a Windows corruption or a Virus or Malware that has been downloaded.  It will also not cover physical damage or liquid ingress.

Keep in mind that to effect this repair the end user is required to return the product to the place of purchase or worse – the end user is often responsible for the postage and handling to send it back to the manufacturer at a Brisbane or Sydney address.  This send away and wait process will normally take 2 to 8 weeks and will also often see any user data wiped or erased from the device.

Why does it not cover a Windows corruption – shouldn’t Microsoft cover that?  No, Microsoft does billions of dollars of software programming & development and includes a disclaimer on their end user licence agreement EULA to the effects that ‘you are installing and using their software at your own peril’.  If their software was badly flawed, then several billion people worldwide would all be affected.

Why does a warranty not cover viruses or malware?  These are problems which are related to the use of the PC and are a customer induced problem, regardless of the customers’ possible best efforts to avoid these circumstances.  A parallel could be drawn to getting a dose of water in your car’s fuel system from a servo that has leaking underground tanks.  Here you could not expect the vehicle manufacturer to fix the car under warranty – although this situation was also hardly your fault.

Many retailers also offer an extended warranty through company XYZ, however if this company is not the manufacturer of the product then I see little value in this extra expense.  On the flip side of this coin, when a manufacturer offers an extended onsite warranty (like Hewlett Packard’s care packs) which are through the manufacturer, then a good degree of value can be found.

From all the above it is easily seen that a manufacturers warranty will not cover a large range of typical PC problems including Windows corruptions, Viruses, Malware or accidental damage, so how does a customer insure or best avoid these non-warranty expenses?  First and foremost is the proper setup and maintenance of a computer system.  The more software you have installed, whether you use it or not – the more chance of a Windows corruption.

If you don’t have a good anti-virus and good computer use habits, then once again – the greater the chance of getting a virus or some malware.  If you want to further protect yourself against any large or unexpected costs, then a monthly IT support contract should also offer peace of mind.  Here you will pay a specialist IT company for a better standard of initial PC setup and for their expertise in keeping it well maintained.

Most IT support contracts will cover a complete range of PC problems including Windows corruptions, viruses, malware, hackers & accidental file deletion.  For all other unforeseen events like accidental physical or liquid ingress you should look to an insurance policy.  Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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