What do you do when your TV, radio, DVD player, CD player, camcorder or home entertainment center conks out?
What do you do when your TV, radio, DVD player, CD player, camcorder, or home entertainment center conks out? Many people run right out and replace it. With home electronics getting less expensive everyday, most items may cost more to repair than to replace. Repairing high end equipment such as high definition televisions or expensive camcorders is more cost effective.
When something goes wrong with electronic equipment, the first step is to troubleshoot, then decide whether to consider repairing the item or to replace it.
To troubleshoot a TV or any piece of electronic equipment, start with the user's manual. There are usually some troubleshooting tips.
If you can't find the manual, look for troubleshooting tips on the manufacturer's web site. Some manufacturer's sites provide good information; others provide none. Such web sites may also provide information for finding a service center or repair person. Consult Consumer Reports' list of manufacturer's contact information including web site addresses.
Determine if the product is still under the manufacturer's warranty or an extended warranty that you purchased. This information ought to be with the product's user's manual and documentation or on the sales receipt. If the product is still under warranty, follow the instructions for making a repair claim.
If the product is still under warranty, it's usually worthwhile taking the item to an authorized repair service for a diagnosis and estimate. If the problem is covered under the warranty and there are no charges for labor (or only a very modest charge), then repairing the item is a sound decision.
If the product would cost more than $200-$300 to replace and is well within its useful life expectancy, then you may wish to take it to a repair service for diagnosis and an estimate of repair costs. Most consumer experts recommend replacing a product if the repair will cost 50% or more of the replacement costs.
If you decide to take the equipment to a repair service, the following tips should help you get more satisfactory service.
Get a referral Ask family, friends, and co-workers if they know a good repair person. Check out the repair person with the Better Business Bureau (or your local equivalent) or your state's consumer protection agency or Attorney General's office.
Get a repair estimate Preferably in writing. Some states require that repair services provide written estimates. Some states allow a reasonable fee to be charged for preparing the estimate but the fee should be disclosed before the estimate is prepared.
Require written consent for repairs Don't authorize the repair service to exceed the repair estimate or replace more parts without your consent. Make sure any forms you sign don't give a general consent to any and all repairs.
Get a claim check It should describe the equipment. Make sure you know the serial number of the equipment.
Get an invoice The invoice should state all the charges. It should show an itemization of each part replaced or serviced and whether the part is new, rebuilt/reconditioned, or serviced.
Ask to see the old parts The repair service should return the replaced parts to you when asked unless the parts must be returned to the manufacturer if your unit was under warranty.
Every state has regulations and/or laws that apply to the repair of electronic equipment. You can usually locate these regulations on the web site of your state's consumer protection agency or Attorney General's office. Regulations typically cover such areas as:
Return of Removed parts
Failure to Perform Repairs
False Charges for Radio and TV Repair
Disposition of Unclaimed Electronic Equipment
In Massachusetts, Radio and TV Technicians must be licensed to perform repairs on radio and television equipment. High standards of quality and service are imposed by the licensing board.
From televisions to PDAs, answering machines to camcorders, electronic equipment contains materials that can be hazardous to dispose of or certainly can contribute to problem of solid waste disposal. Consider donating or recycling the equipment. Should you choose to recycle the equipment, there are several options for finding a source that will take your used electronic equipment.
Call your municipal waste disposal/sanitation service to see if they have a recycling plan for electronics and/or a location where you can drop off the equipment.
The Consumer Reports site, GreenerChoices.org, lists groups and organizations that can recycle your old equipment.