Dec
03
2008

How to Repair A Laptop: Option 2 – Big Box Stores

Broken Laptop

Broken Laptop

Before I start talking computer repair, I offer three caveats.  First, I have no formal training in diagnosing, repairing, or even using computers.  Second, I have no experience with repairing an Apple or Mac computer.  Third, all of the below only applies to laptop repair.  Its incredibly easy to swap out components on a desktop.

You’ve done the math and decided that it is a better use of your resources to repair your non-functional and out-of-warranty laptop.[1] You know that sending an out of warranty laptop to the manufacturer is a bad idea.  But, what about a big box store like Best Buy, Circuit City[2] , and Fry’s?[3]

Option 2:  Big Box Stores

When I’m not buying computer or electronics components online, I like Best Buy for products and Fry’s for components.  However, I would never have a computer diagnosed or repaired by either place.

First, let’s recognize that a big box store has certain priorities.  As such, their staff are trained to sell, not to diagnose or repair.  I imagine their priorities are, in order: (1) Sell you things, (2) sell you warranties for things, (3) sell you new things, and (4) sell you warranties for those new things, (5) LLR. [4] From a capitalistic perspective, its hard to argue with a business plan like this.

A little burned out component on the motherboard takes very special equipment and skill to replace.  When faced with such a problem you can replace the entire computer, the motherboard[5] , or just that one component.

From calling numerous computer repair facilities, I know very few of them have the special equipment and skill required to replace a single tiny component on a motherboard.  If dedicated repair facilities do not typically have this equipment, I doubt big box stores would be up to the task.

I think everyone’s heard the horror stories or seen the TV investigations of big box computer store repair services scamming unwary or uninformed consumers.  I have friends who hired Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” and still didn’t have their problems fixed.

If I were a very cynical person[6] I’d suggest that big box stores hire untrained staff who have a vested interest in charging a diagnostic fee to tell you that your computer and all your data is beyond recovery.

Luckily, I believe the third option, finding a reliable dedicated computer repair shop, is your best bet.

  1. Photo courtesy of Just Us 3. []
  2. They’re bankrupt, so don’t bother []
  3. For those of you who just can’t wait to find out: I think a dedicated computer facility is best. []
  4. LLR – Lather, rinse, repeat. []
  5. Which, by the time you need it, costs as much as your computer is worth. []
  6. And, I am. []

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