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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SquareTrade Warranties Revisted

I have bought a couple of SquareTrade Warranties over the years and have never needed to use them. SquareTrade is a third party warranty company that will sell you an extended warranty for practically any electronic item. They generally are dramatically cheaper than the third party warranties sold by the store where you bought the electronic item. As an example, an extended warranty on my Acer Notebook was over $200.00 from Acer and it was $39.00 from SquareTrade.

Having a modicum of expertise, when my DVD drive stopped working in my notebook, I did basic trouble shooting to no avail. I then went to Acer technical support and after trying all their ideas, I still had a non-working DVD drive.

I did a little web research and discovered that the model drive in my laptop was not held in good regard. There were many complaints about the drive across a wide spectrum of notebook manufactures who had used the Matshita DVD RAM UJ-850S. I initially tried to find a replacement drive with plans to just replace it myself. I couldn’t find a drive that was recommended as a replacement drive so I decided to use my SquareTrade Warranty.

My initial impression was that SquareTrade was trying to rip me off. Their rep said I had never sent in my proof of purchase. I have notes that say I did but I faxed over the proof of purchase again and again and again. After faxing it over five times, I got a tech on the phone who gave me her specific fax number and she put the proof of purchase in the system. Then one of their techs and I emailed back and forth for several days with them telling me to try all of the fixes that I had already tried. Finally a tech said that I would need to send it in for repair but the system still didn’t show my proof of purchase. I referred him to the tech who had taken care of that aspect and he confirmed that she had put it in the system. It was there but not showing up on screen. I never did find out why that occurred.

I received a prepaid label and shipping box from Blue Raven to send back the computer. I shipped the computer on a Thursday and got it back on a Monday. I was totally impressed. The paperwork showed they had installed a new drive and they sent all the test results back with the notebook. For some unknown reason they saw fit to reinstall my operating system. This, of course, wiped out all of the programs I had installed. Since I keep my data on a different sub-directory, I did not lose any data. It was highly annoying to have to reinstall all my programs though.

My euphoria over prompt service was short lived. I tested the DVD drive and it would not play a movie, install any software or read any discs. I called Blue Raven and left a message and then I sent an email. After several more emails and no response, I called SquareTrade. They said to keep trying Blue Raven. Finally I got Charlie, the very helpful SquareTrade rep who contacted the Blue Raven rep who said he had never gotten my emails or voice mail. Blue Raven sent another prepaid label and I again sent in my machine. After about 10 days I got it back and this time it works.

The entire process took over a month. With the exception of the proof of purchase mystery and the “I never got the emails or voice mail”, I felt that everyone I worked with was trying to solve my problem. No one was ever rude or dismissive. I ended up with a repaired notebook DVD drive. I did have to reinstall all my programs but that isn’t uncommon whenever you send your computer out. I guess because I was in the computer service business and it was a very, very rare occasion where we lost all our clients programs and if we did, we reinstalled them, I found that reinstall very annoying.

Was the warranty worth the money? I guess since I wanted to maintain portability of the notebook. An external USB drive would have sufficed and if I had to pay for the repair would have been substantially cheaper and easier than installing a new internal drive.

The time factor was pretty dismal but SquareTrade, eventually, came through. I will probably buy an extended warranty from them again and hopefully I will not need to use it.

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