Today's consumer products are designed to provide years of entertainment and useful service. These products are extremely reliable, considering the complexity of their internal construction and circuitry.
Nevertheless, breakdowns can occur at any time, whether the product is new (that's why they have warranties) or after it's several years old. When this happens, it can be quite frustrating. Trying to find the right service company and receiving satisfactory repairs can sometimes be equally frustrating.
The independent service industry has kept pace with the manufacturers in pampering the consumers of complex products. Like the cost of buying the products, the cost of servicing them has remained a bargain. The vast majority of these service businesses are dedicated to good and lasting services at fair prices.
Still, there are some service companies which are both unqualified and unethical. These will use the consumers' lack of technical or mechanical knowledge to charge exhorbitant fees for shoddy workmanship.
So, what is a consumer to do? Well, there are ways to give yourself the absolutely best chances of getting the repairs you need at a reasonable price. When you need a TV, stereo, microwave oven, home computer, antenna system, appliance, or other electronic item repaired, the following information can aid you in this search.
DON'T CHANGE WITHOUT REASON
The most important step is to continue to do business with the firm you trust from prior services. If you have been patronizing a company that offers prompt, courteous, and competent service, don't change unless you have to. (A legitimate reason to change would be if the product is in warranty and that company is not authorized for that brand, of if they do not repair that type or brand of product. Even then, however, it might be best to seek their advice or recommendations.)
HOW TO SELECT A COMPANY
If you need to select a service company, take the time to check with friends and neighbors for recommendations and carefully screen
advertisements for an established business with the proper credentials for your type and brand of equipment, such as:
- Has the company been in business for some time at a bona-fide business address?
- Do they advertise their business address with their phone number?
- Are they a member of a self-policing state and/or local trade association?
- Do they belong to an ethics-promoting national trade association, such as NESDA? NESDA members will show a membership card with a current date and will display the association's code of business ethics. NESDA also backs its members work by guaranteeing that you receive the services you pay for.
- Does the business employ a certified electronics technician (CET) in positions of responsibility? Does it display diplomas from trade schools, manufacturers' special training, and/or an "ISCET C.E.T." certificate from the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET)? ISCET-certified CETs carry a wallet certification card. Also, members of ISCET subscribe to a code of ethics and carry a currently valid membership card.
- If your unit is covered in full or in part by a factory warranty, is the company an authorized agent for that type of equipment? (Look for current manufacturer-issued certificates and training diplomas.)
- If the product is covered in full or in part by a third-party service contract, is the company authorized to honor the terms of that contract?