Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

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InvisibleAerobar
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Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:38 pm

Due to clumsiness, I've had some bad experiences handling laptops, so when I buy more expensive ones (say above $500), I almost always spring for the 2-year drop and spill warranty. As it happens, I purchased a Dell laptop from the Microsoft Store in the summer of 2015. Laptop was $600; drop and spill warranty was $129; with further cash back from the transaction, it was ~$650 before taxes. I managed to break the glass monitor within two years, and exchanged it for a new unit in the summer of 2017. Total replacement cost was $49 (for the deductible). I sprung for additional drop and spill coverage of $149, extending it to summer of 2019.

While i've been a lot more careful with my current laptop (on which I'm typing this post), the battery on the new unit is about to die out. After visiting the Microsoft Store, I have three options:
-1) Another $49 deductible entitles me to another laptop. I may elect to spend $149 for additional 2-year warranty, or not.
-2) Have the unit repaired. Though it's free of charge, I'm out of a serviceable computer for at least 3 weeks, not to mention I have to drive to the store to drop-off and pick-up (as opposed to a one-trip visit for the first option, each trip is 1 hour roundtrip).
-3) Replace the battery myself and call it a day. Battery is $70, but I have no idea when it'll be available again.

Although I hate getting new stuff just for the sake of it, the store would not do the repair any other way. It would appear that option 1) is a no-brainer, given the circumstances. However, if I were to go with option 1, next questions are:
-a) should I get the extended warranty again or should I self-insure?
-b) how long should the duration of insurance be? Things generally go bad in the second year.

The only concern is that this may begin to turn into a biennial affair, with me spending $200 every two years to get a unit replaced (for whatever reason). Something about that is a bit unsettling (all the waste generated, etc), but perhaps this is the only way to approach it? My first laptop last five years before the motherboard gave out; my next one lasted four years before its components deteriorated drastically (still usable, but very slow). I'd like to have a computer last 4-5 years prior to replacement, but if switch every two years is par for the course, I guess I'll just deal with it. Thoughts and comments?

student
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by student » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:45 pm

For option 1, are they giving you a new one with updated spec (today's standard) or are they giving you a new one but with the same spec as the old one. For the former, pay for the protection. For the latter, self-insure.

KlangFool
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by KlangFool » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:46 pm

OP,

Start buying a laptop from Costco would be the other solution. No deductible too.

https://www.costco.com/appliances.html

https://www.costco.com/SquareTrade-3-Ye ... 58241.html


KlangFool

bryanm
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by bryanm » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:57 pm

The maxim that you shouldn't insure foreseeable, self-coverable costs is only true when the external insurer has knowledge of your situation and adequately incorporates that knowledge into the insurance price. Store warranties are an interesting case, because given their flat rates, neither of those is true. For that reason, store warranties tend to be overpriced, allowing a large number of customers who do not use the warranty to subsidize the few that do.

It sounds to me like you recognize that you are one of those "few." If that's true, then buy the warranty. The subsidized cost should be less than the expected cost of self insurance. (Alternatively, make yourself not one of those "few" by finding a way to not need the warranty so often, which may not be practical for you.)

Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:23 pm

thanks to all who responded
student wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:45 pm
For option 1, are they giving you a new one with updated spec (today's standard) or are they giving you a new one but with the same spec as the old one. For the former, pay for the protection. For the latter, self-insure.
completely new computer, with updated spec
KlangFool wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:46 pm
OP,

Start buying a laptop from Costco would be the other solution. No deductible too.

https://www.costco.com/appliances.html

https://www.costco.com/SquareTrade-3-Ye ... 58241.html


KlangFool
those terms from Costco are a lot better than I expected. If I were out of warranty and were unable remedy the issue on my own, i'd get my replacement laptop from Costco.
bryanm wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:57 pm
The maxim that you shouldn't insure foreseeable, self-coverable costs is only true when the external insurer has knowledge of your situation and adequately incorporates that knowledge into the insurance price. Store warranties are an interesting case, because given their flat rates, neither of those is true. For that reason, store warranties tend to be overpriced, allowing a large number of customers who do not use the warranty to subsidize the few that do.

It sounds to me like you recognize that you are one of those "few." If that's true, then buy the warranty. The subsidized cost should be less than the expected cost of self insurance. (Alternatively, make yourself not one of those "few" by finding a way to not need the warranty so often, which may not be practical for you.)
really appreciate you taking the time to walk me through all this. I guess deep down, part of me recognizes that there is an ethical perspective built into the decision as well. I actually tried to make myself not one of those "few" this time around, except the battery went almost belly-up (battery life went down from 5.5 hrs on full charge to barely more than an hour) two months from expiration of the warranty. Were it to occur later (say in June 2020), I'd be sorry out of luck.

Thesaints
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by Thesaints » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:37 pm

$149 + $49 = $198, doesn't look like a good deal for a 2-year protection of a $500 item. It assumes a 40% chance of total loss within the warranty period...

inbox788
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by inbox788 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:31 pm

Thesaints wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:37 pm
$149 + $49 = $198, doesn't look like a good deal for a 2-year protection of a $500 item. It assumes a 40% chance of total loss within the warranty period...
Extended warranties/service contracts are seldom a good bet, but I think it's worked out so far for OP.

Topic Author
InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:40 pm

inbox788 wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:31 pm
Thesaints wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:37 pm
$149 + $49 = $198, doesn't look like a good deal for a 2-year protection of a $500 item. It assumes a 40% chance of total loss within the warranty period...
Extended warranties/service contracts are seldom a good bet, but I think it's worked out so far for OP.
What would be a reasonable rate? Is the $99 Square Trade 3-yr warranty mentioned upthread be considered reasonable for a $750 item?

k3vb0t
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by k3vb0t » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:50 pm

If you kill off laptops through normal wear and tear (batteries) every two years you could buy on a credit card with extended warranty coverage. Not so much for spilling water and cracking screens. But if it is just a battery just replace the battery.

Or look at it like this: let’s say you don’t buy the insurance. You replace your own battery for $70. $70 is less than $149+$49.

Both options require you to be more careful and not break expensive items.

Alternatively buy a refurbished MacBook Pro and take really good care of it. Apple’s service (once to visit to verify part needed, second trip to have it replaced in store) has impressed my curmudgeon behind. (This was non-Apple Care and a free service replacement on a five year old part. Five. Years. Old.) I’m still using my 2011 MacBook Pro for basic web and office tasks. Impressive.

inbox788
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by inbox788 » Wed May 01, 2019 12:56 am

InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:38 pm
Due to clumsiness, I've had some bad experiences handling laptops, so when I buy more expensive ones (say above $500), I almost always spring for the 2-year drop and spill warranty.
What's your track record for previous laptops? Sounds like there have been prior incidents, so you might be a high risk where the payoff is actually worth it. Still, it's better to be more careful and self insure. You'll come out richer in the long run.
drop and spill warranty was $129...managed to break the glass monitor within two years...Total replacement cost was $49 (for the deductible)
Estimate cost to replace a screen is about $200-300 parts and labor...
I sprung for additional drop and spill coverage of $149, extending it to summer of 2019...Another $49 deductible entitles me to another laptop
vs. free repair
Cost of battery $70 + labor. I looked at a video of a Dell Inspiron 15, and it looked doable but not trivial, so if it's an internal battery, say about $100.

Between the 2 warranties and 2 repairs, you're pretty even Steven, but that's beating the odds.

I wouldn't waste 2 trips to fix it, even if it were free. There is risk with self battery replacement and time involved, so I'd pay the deductible and get a new system and hope for the best. Do you get identical units or upgrades to what's current? I wouldn't keep betting in the warranty casino. It's a losers game. Save the cash for your next purchase or repair, if easy and inexpensive.

Bill Bernstein
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by Bill Bernstein » Wed May 01, 2019 6:46 am

If you're a bit of a DIYer, there's an alternative, which is to divorce yourself from Windows/Dell and learn how to load and use Linux.

A decent used Thinkpad, say T420s or higher, can be had in the $100 range, add maybe $50 for an SSD, and is likely to be more durable than a new Dell. For the price of a warranty, you can simply buy a spare. These old workhorses can take a beating and fail rarely, and with a lightweight version like Lubuntu, are quite fast. (There's a reason why most of the road warriors you'll sit next to use them.)

Once you learn how to install and use Linux, you'll wonder how you got sucked into learning a new Windows version every few years, or spent hours every year waiting for the patches to update, (The average Linux update takes 1-5 minutes), or sweated spending $500-$1000 periodically for a brand new system with a wonky lifetime.

The learning curve is initially a tad steep, but is a great long-term investment of your time.

Bill

KlangFool
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by KlangFool » Wed May 01, 2019 7:19 am

Bill Bernstein wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 6:46 am
If you're a bit of a DIYer, there's an alternative, which is to divorce yourself from Windows/Dell and learn how to load and use Linux.

A decent used Thinkpad, say T420s or higher, can be had in the $100 range, add maybe $50 for an SSD, and is likely to be more durable than a new Dell. For the price of a warranty, you can simply buy a spare. These old workhorses can take a beating and fail rarely, and with a lightweight version like Lubuntu, are quite fast. (There's a reason why most of the road warriors you'll sit next to use them.)

Once you learn how to install and use Linux, you'll wonder how you got sucked into learning a new Windows version every few years, or spent hours every year waiting for the patches to update, (The average Linux update takes 1-5 minutes), or sweated spending $500-$1000 periodically for a brand new system with a wonky lifetime.

The learning curve is initially a tad steep, but is a great long-term investment of your time.

Bill
Bill Bernstein,

Or, you can buy a similar used laptop with Window 10 at the same price.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... CatId=4935

KlangFool

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Watty
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by Watty » Wed May 01, 2019 7:30 am

InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:38 pm
Thoughts and comments?
A lot depends on what your needs are.

I have both a inexpensive laptop and a desktop.

My desktop is moderately powerful and I use the desktop for any sort of significant work like photo processing, financials, family tree, etc.

My laptop only cost a couple of hundred dollars and I typically get them during sales like Black Friday or buy a refurbished one. They work fine for doing things like surfing the web or basic stuff when I am on the road but if one ever has a significant problem it would not be worth fixing, I would just replace it.

I find that I am using my laptop less now too and I will mainly be using my phone and a tablet in the future. On my last big trip about the only thing I used my laptop for was to backup my photos. Before I take another big trip I will look into alternatives so that I do not need to take the laptop.

Katietsu
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by Katietsu » Wed May 01, 2019 8:08 am

Option 1: Spend $49, get a new computer. Do not buy the new warranty. Then, choose from one of the other suggestions going forward.

TheOscarGuy
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by TheOscarGuy » Wed May 01, 2019 8:24 am

InvisibleAerobar wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:38 pm

The only concern is that this may begin to turn into a biennial affair, with me spending $200 every two years to get a unit replaced (for whatever reason). Something about that is a bit unsettling (all the waste generated, etc), but perhaps this is the only way to approach it? My first laptop last five years before the motherboard gave out; my next one lasted four years before its components deteriorated drastically (still usable, but very slow). I'd like to have a computer last 4-5 years prior to replacement, but if switch every two years is par for the course, I guess I'll just deal with it. Thoughts and comments?
This is one of the reasons why I always go with apple (and the warranty). I don't break screens with as much regularity as you do perhaps, but any hardware issues and it gets replaced by apple. They are also better made products, having used them exclusively over the past 10+ years.

Luke Duke
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by Luke Duke » Wed May 01, 2019 9:16 am

Given your history, go with option 1 and reinsure.

Caduceus
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Re: Rational way to thinking about laptop replacement/repair

Post by Caduceus » Wed May 01, 2019 1:20 pm

You'll probably lose out over an entire lifetime of buying insurance, even if you "win" at it occasionally. I also think there must be a way that insurance companies do obtain information about this - I read about fraud where folks would just "break" stuff just prior to the warranty to get a new one. There's probably a reporting agency that services insurance companies (the same function that, say, FICO plays in the credit reporting system) - so if you keep claiming at some unreasonable rate, they will know.

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