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Dell Extended Warranty Pays off With Replacement Laptop

This is a post is from my younger sister. She was so excited about the good customer service she got from Dell that I asked her to write about it for my blog.

Yesterday, I got a free Dell laptop.

No, it wasn’t from one of the plethora of scammy advertisements which riddle the internet claiming that you’ve won a free laptop–if you just fill out eight gazillion survey forms and trial offers which ensure that you’ll receive infinite amounts of junk mailings while never actually getting your computer.

Instead, I got my new (refurbished) laptop because of the warranty I had bought four years ago. My university only allowed laptops bought through their laptop program to connect to the internet. Annoying, yes, but it ensured that everyone had Microsoft Office, full antivirus protection–and a complete Dell four year Next Day Service warranty.

At first, I thought spending ~$200-300 on the warranty was a waste of money, since warranties quite often are. In 2006, Consumer Reports strongly recommended against getting extended warranties for most products. As they pointed out, in many cases, you’re just wasting money. After all, the companies are very careful to offer warranties which last only until the product typically starts to deteriorate; otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth it for the company. Instead, Consumer Reports recommended that consumers simply buy good products which operate smoothly long after any warranty would have expired.

Sounds simple, but there are two problems with that recommendation:

1. Sometimes you can’t get a good or reliable product.

In my case, I had to buy the school laptop. I already owned my own Dell laptop, which had functioned reasonably well for about two years at that point, but I couldn’t connect it to the school’s network or internet. The school was more concerned with providing a cheap and semi-reliable product than with providing a long-lasting and stable product. Other consumers may have to choose a cheaper product rather than a better product because they’ve got limited budgets.

And I can assure you, my laptop was anything but reliable. As far as I can remember, over the last four years, I have had Dell replace the motherboard (twice), hard drive, keyboard (twice), screen (twice), mouse pad, power cord (thrice), and battery. [“Holy crap!” interjects Mrs. Micah.] Essentially, I had my entire computer rebuilt over the last four years. I never spent a dime beyond the initial warranty purchase.

All this, without much disruption to my life–which brings me to my second point:

2. Sometimes you need the service which warranties guarantee you.

When I was in college, if I didn’t get my computer repaired asap, I might not be able to complete a critical project or make a vital presentation. I imagine it’s the same for most workplaces and freelance operations: you need access to your computer (or other essential item), and you need it now.

Dell’s warranty guaranteed not only part replacement but on-site technicians to install it. What did that mean? It meant that my computer was generally repaired on my dining room table! After I’d diagnosed my computer by chatting (online or on the phone) with Dell, the local Dell-approved repair company would call me, set up an appointment, then bring the part to my home and install it right there. At no point was I without my computer, and at no point did I risk losing it in the mail/service center.

Even now, only about a month before my warranty runs out, Dell was so helpful that, as my service needs piled up, they actually sprung for a full computer replacement. I even got an upgrade, since they don’t make my old computer anymore! And all this for a comparatively small warranty investment (~$200-300) when I bought the computer. My warranty has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars, for parts, service, and now an entire computer.

So Should You Buy an Extended Warranty?

Does my story mean you should always invest in a warranty? Absolutely not. For example, in my experience (though I’m certainly no expert), cameras tend to be stable enough to function until the warranty is expired or the camera itself is so out of date that it’s worthless to repair. Many other good big-ticket items are similar, especially if you take the time to peruse reviews and check sources like Consumer Reports or the Blue Book.

What this does mean is that you should seriously consider warranties. I strongly recommend a full 4-year service and parts replacement warranty for all college students, but any computer purchaser would likely benefit from a warranty–especially if they buy a mid- or low-range laptop. In the end, it can save you a great deal of time, money, and worry.

And, most importantly of all, it means that you should take full advantage of your warranty. Every time something went wrong with my computer, I contacted Dell. Within days, it was fixed, and my computer was working perfectly. Unlike many of my friends, I had no problem contacting Dell and demanding (nicely) that they live up to their contract. Once you enter into a warranty like this one, it’s your responsibility to ensure you get your money’s worth!


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

MLR June 15, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Even on cheaper products, they usually aren’t worth it. Warranty pricing is variable to account for things like that.

It may be $200 for a $500 laptop and $400 for a $1,500 laptop. (40% of cost versus 27%)

Your “expected value” will never be better by buying a warranty. (I don’t often say never… but they are in business to make a profit).

The problem comes when you know someone who buys a warranty and winds up benefiting from it. People tell you about good experiences, not the fact that they didn’t use the warranty.

MLR’s last blog post: Winner Announced for Global Giving Gift Card Giveaway

Dad June 17, 2009 at 3:41 am

I knew you had used the warranty but not how much! I too rarely get warranties like this. But I see the value of having an available computer in school. For small business, home businesses, and free-lance, I would suggest investigating service contracts with local service people or investigate the service costs at local repair groups who have a good reputation. You may be able to get a better deal that costs you more the more you need it but still gives you quick service and a lot of uptime. Of course, the modern American way is the disposable computer that you replace and throw away when it fails. But you had better have a reliable backup plan for you data or you are in serious trouble.

lul mul August 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm

can you tell me how the new computer came? did you send yours in first or they sent one out to you and you returned that?

Umjustsayin September 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm

I have a Dell and my 1 year warranty expires 09/15/09. I was considering not renewing it because I’m fairly computer savvy. You have convinced me to bite the bullet and renew the warranty (on which my keyboard and motherboard have already been replaced). I work from home and am in school so I can’t afford to be without my computer.

Nikodim Ljutic July 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Find the best and appropriate AC adapters, batteries, cords… for your Dell laptop.

JMontes September 28, 2010 at 8:38 am

If original warranty period is only a year then I would spend some money to extend to another year or 2. Guess that is the average life span of a computer. 🙂

Bill February 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

I ha a similar experience through my school, being forced to buy a Dell extended warranty. In short, best purchase I ever made. I had to have my motherboard replaced 3 times due to overheating, and the keyboard replaced once due to an intoxicated friend. Dell enterprise support is surprisingly good.

BVasq June 14, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Dell replaced my motherboard three times, my system board, and speakers. Now they are sending me a new computer. My warranty was definitely worth it, but I also had pretty expensive computer.

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