A friend was shopping for a new desktop computer recently and asked me to recommend a brand she might consider. Of course, I suggested purchasing one of the two computer makers that I use. Then she asked whether she should get the extended warranty plan. I don’t usually pay much attention to warranties, so I wasn’t sure what to tell her. Also, I didn’t know what the original warranty might be on the computer she was considering. So, we went to several stores and various Web sites to look at warranties. I was shocked at what I found.
It appears that computer manufacturers are either making millions of additional dollars selling warranties, or they know their products are junk and they will have to repair them soon after they sell them. The original warranties we found typically cover parts for 30 to 90 days, and some kind of limited warranty for only one year. The cost of two to three additional years of coverage can be $300 or more! That’s surprising to me, considering that you are handing over $2000 to $4000 for a computer that you expect will be trouble-free for at least five years. I also looked at some other electronic components and accessories, and discovered warranties that are even more abysmal: 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.
Not even one year!
I don’t understand how a big name manufacturer can have so little confidence in the quality of the expensive products they design and build, that they can’t guarantee them for at least three years. By comparison, another friend of mine, an electrical design-engineering manager, works for an instrument company that has an original, three-year unconditional warranty. His engineers design and build quality products that they use themselves. They can offer this guarantee because the company has a rigorous initial component qualification program, supported by continuous incoming inspection of those components. That means they design a product, run tough tests (including life tests) on all the components that comprise it before placing them on the parts list, and inspect and test every batch of parts and components that are received before they go to the production line. Sometimes an incoming component doesn’t meet specs, so the entire batch is returned to the supplier. In addition, my friend told me that although they don’t advertise it, in some cases, they repair returned products free of charge for up to five years. However, after five years, the cost to repair the instrument often exceeds its value, so the customer is advised to purchase a new one. This is the kind of company that would get my business.
Which leads me to ask you, dear reader, what kind of warranties do you offer your customers? Are you in control of the quality of parts that go into your products? Do you inspect incoming parts? Do you even have a quality assurance department? What good is spending thousands of dollars on “ISO this or that” if you can’t guarantee your products for three to five years? I would like to know, and I think a lot of other readers would like to know, too. Please reply to [email protected].
Filed Under: Industrial computers