Should I extend the warrently?
November 2, 2007 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Is extending my Dell Inspiron 6000 laptops warranty for three years worth $160 or would that make me a sucker?

I got a call from Dell informing me my warrenty is up, and they tried to pull the hard sell for extending it for three years for only $160. On principle I walk away from hard sales pitches. Hard sales pitches are for suckers.

Still, I do see myself using the laptop in three years. I added RAM myself and am my considering replacing the hard drive with something bigger, so that may invalidate a warranty.

So really I have three questions:
1. Is extending my Dell Inspiron 6000 laptops warranty for three years worth $160?
2. If it is worth it, will Dell reject any future claims because I added my own RAM or hard drive?
3. Is Dell any good at honoring their warranties? IE, fix things with little hassle and not try to weasel out of honoring warranties. I'm looking more for customer satisfaction data rather than good or bad anecdotes.

posted by TheSlate to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)

Just kidding. Before I'd commit to the warranty I'd want to know definitively if your warranty would be honored since you added stuff (RAM, whatnot). Call them up and ask. Get it in writing or whatever.

Another thing to consider is the hassle of if something did need repairs - you'd have to send the computer in to be fixed, leaving you without a computer (and do they pay shipping?).
posted by Sassyfras at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2007

Best answer: See this:

""" 3. Extended warranty for laptops - Do it for as long as you feasibly see using your laptop, and include accidental. Two years is typically the lifecycle from "new product" to "no longer produced/no more refurbs" though YMMV. Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop. The standard warranty will not cover any screen defects.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: If a system is no longer shipping a used/refurbished is always sent, though the refurb should be equal or better as far as hardware is concerned. As of this writing if a system is exchanged, via either Complete Care warranty or concession, and the system is still a currently shipping model a new system is to be sent."""
posted by cmiller at 10:14 AM on November 2, 2007

Best answer: Can't speak to #2 or 3, but for #1, Consumer Reports actually recommends the extended warranty for laptops (33% fail within 3 years), or at least they did in 2004. And they tend not to like most extended warranties, so that's saying something.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:19 AM on November 2, 2007

FWIW, I was in a similar scenario at school and the power charger on the laptop died twice within a year. That required replacing the motherboard and the warranty has more than paid for itself. I never had a problem and they replaced the motherboard within two business days each time.

Of course, with all things tech-support related, YMMV. You may go the next 3 years with no issues. That's what warranty's all about. Dell's hoping your laptop a) won't break or b) you won't cash in on the warranty if it breaks.

Adding on to cmiller and DevilsAdvocate, I always get warranties for laptops. I have no doubt about the 33% failure rate, and if they fail without a warranty, it can cost a pretty penny and laptops aren't the easiest thing to fix on your own.
posted by jmd82 at 10:23 AM on November 2, 2007

Years 2,3, and 4 all for $160 sounds like a deal, (assuming it's one year old now). Even better deal if it's older than that. It's a rare Dell laptop that doesn't need at least $160 worth repair by the end of the fourth year.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:27 AM on November 2, 2007

I would get the extended warranty, simply because you usually have to get it to be allowed to purchase accidental damage protection. See, this one time my laptop had an unfortunate accident under the edge of a rocking chair... the only component damaged was the screen - the most expensive component.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:27 AM on November 2, 2007

I tend to think it's a good idea too. Laptops are high-wear, high-abuse items. They break a LOT, and repairs are typically very expensive.

I don't have any broad data, but I'll share an anecdote, even though you don't really want them.

My mother has an extended warranty on her Inspiron 9300. Something went wrong with the keyboard, and the power supply failed, and Dell sent her the parts to fix it in both cases -- and was willing, of course, to send a tech for the keyboard, but she had me available. No hassle, no fuss, new parts within two days.

She has also owned an HP, and got an extended warranty from Best Buy on it, which was completely worthless. They are inept and stupid. The BB warranties are scams. She had endless trouble with that machine, and bought the Dell, which she liked.

After a year or so, she didn't like how big the Dell was, so went back to Best Buy and bought a Toshiba... with the BB extended warranty, which I simply couldn't believe she'd do again. That machine has been very unreliable, and Toshiba has been slow about fixing it, giving her significant downtime. I shudder to think of what will happen once she gets into the BB warranty instead.

So: three laptops, and every one has had multiple failures. Of three companies (Best Buy, Toshiba, and Dell), only Dell was really good.
posted by Malor at 10:28 AM on November 2, 2007

Response by poster: With accidental, it is about $450 before taxes for three years. I think I'm going for it. That's about the same as the risk if I were to self insure and replace it with a $1350 laptop (assuming the 33% failure rate.)
posted by TheSlate at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2007

I've been using Dells laptops for about 7 years, and I always start out with a three-year warranty. I've never not needed service toward the end of that period. It's always been worth the cost of the warranty. I tend to start wanting to replace my computer once it's getting into its fourth year. If you think you'll want to stay with the same laptop through and beyond the extension period, go for it. When I request a repair, Dell asks if there are any wobbly keys, any missing pads underneath, any cracks in the case. They actually want to fix all those things all at once; so you could end up with a whole new keyboard and case when it's time for a new motherboard.

Are they giving you the option of in-home service? With that plan, you don't have any waiting time for shipping to and from the repair center. Costs more, though.
posted by wryly at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Did you buy the laptop with a credit card? Did that credit card provide extended warranties at all?
posted by inigo2 at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2007

Dell replaced the failed motherboard on my M600, and replaced the keyboard while they were at it, 2.75 years into a 3 year warranty. Having the warranty certainly paid off for me.
posted by dws at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2007

As for cmiller's post,

DELL will typically repair your laptop, not replace it. There would have to be a lot of stuff wrong with it and I do not believe they replace accidental stuff like you clearly dropping it or running over it or anything like that.

However, if it is an actual defect they will fix it and if it is behaving oddly due to normal wear and tear they will fix it.

I have had my Inspiron 8600 now for about 4.5 years and I have used the extended warranty a number of times. I've renewed the warranty once. They fixed my screen casing when it was cracked. I've run my laptop as a data acquisition center for some high voltage testing which resulted in about 3 fried motherboards. DELL has replaced the motherboard each time.

As long as it doesn't look like you did something intentional or something extremely stupid like leave it on top of your car and drive away, then DELL will fix it while it is under warranty.
posted by nickerbocker at 4:00 PM on November 2, 2007

*Although I doubt DELL's service centers will run out of your particular model's spare parts to the point where they replace your laptop with a new laptop.
posted by nickerbocker at 4:02 PM on November 2, 2007

I have to confess not reading all the replies, so this is probably just a me, too story, but here goes:

I bought a Dell Inspiron 8500, with a 3 year complete care warranty, back in Aug 2003. Here are a list of things they replaced in the three years:

1. Power adapter (cord got chewed up after it got caught under a chair I was sitting on)
2. Battery (just stopped working)

3. In July 2006, I mailed it in for a cracked hinge and a missing key on the keyboard, and the following were replaced:
Keyboard (a key popped off)
Top case (which includes the trackpad)
LCD housing (the hinge got cracked)
Motherboard (I don't know why, I guess they found a problem with it)

The items in 3) were replaced within 30 day of the warranty ending. When it was returned to me, I was moving internationally, and it was almost two months before I saw it again. When I booted it up, the video card was on the fritz. I called them up and said they had returned it to me in a non-working fashion. They covered the mailing and repair costs even though the laptop was now technically out of warranty. When I got it back, the video card was fine but I ran diagnostics on the system and got a non-fatal hard drive error. At this point it was October 2006 and the warranty had been expired for two months, but they still mailed me a new hdd free of charge and asked me to mail them back the old hdd.

So if they're offering you Complete Care for 3 years for $160, it sounds like a good deal to me.
posted by cactus at 5:02 PM on November 2, 2007

I've always recommended the extended warranty, especially if it's a deductible business expense in some way, for all the reasons above. Laptops are VERY expensive to replace, VERY expensive to repair, and VERY difficult to get by without when they break. Obviously they're making money overall so the house wins, but this is a case where you have to consider the impact on you if you need it and don't have it. I think it's much more likely to need a laptop rightnowrightawayyesterday than it is, say, a TV or stereo.

Also, laptops are intelligent, have all your data, and know the least convenient times for you. They will plot their revenge accordingly.
posted by dhartung at 5:11 PM on November 2, 2007

Even better deal if it's older than that.

Obviously there will be a point of diminishing returns.. It is worth looking up the used value of your laptop on ebay, just as a point of reference.
posted by Chuckles at 5:58 PM on November 2, 2007

Laptops are the one item I always buy an extended warranty for. I use Thinkpads, and they always need some kind of service within 2-3 years. Over the past few years, I've had hard drives replaced, new keyboards installed (they wear out due to my extensive typing), and a new motherboard installed when the Ethernet port died. I've found that purchasing the more expensive contract that offers onsite service worth it. If something goes wrong that you can't replace yourself, a repairman will come to your house and work on the laptop. I don't know if Lenovo still offers this level of warranty protection, but I got it on my current laptop which I bought while Thinkpads were still sold by IBM.
posted by lsemel at 9:48 PM on November 2, 2007

I own Dell laptops. I've had excellent in-home service within 24 hours three times in three years. Recommend it completely.
posted by Riverine at 12:51 PM on November 3, 2007

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