When the Geeks are really Pimps (more on warranties)
I know the big box stores are a lot of fun. We go in there, poke around check out new stuff, and we love to look for the deals. I myself, even purchased this very laptop from which I’m typing this blog from your local yellow tag big box store. It is funny to me, however, to see all the “extra” services the store offers with purchase when it comes to computer products. The truth of the matter is, when you buy your computer, or when you commit to a service plan, they are really trying to squeeze every dollar they can out of you. There is an ugly truth though, and that’s the fact that when the service squad “pimps,” they pimp hard.
There are a number of add-ons they will offer, and some of them potentially make sense, but there are things that they do not tell you as well. So allow me to tell fill in the missing details.
Usually the first thing they offer you is an extended service agreement. These agreements usually cost around $150 to provide additional warranty coverage for your machine. This would be great, except when you bring your unit in for service, they will take the path of least resistance to make your computer work again. In many cases, this means complete manufacturer re-imaging of the hard drive, which erases the existing data, and restores the hard drive back to an “unpacked” state. (Meaning, your computer’s software will be as if you just unpacked the machine from the box.) I wish I could say that labor was the prime factor in deciding whether to repair or re-image, but when I see how quickly they are to offer the $130 restore service, it becomes obvious to me that money is the most determinate factor. In other words, the geeks are pimping. By actually extending your manufacturer’s warranty, with the manufacturer, it seems that you make better use of your money, and depending on the retailer, you can probably drop the machine off for warranty service with the store anyway.
In addition to the service plan, the geeks often offer to create system recovery disks for you. There are some ideological flaws associated with the usefulness of this service. For one, if you are an individual who is comfortable with performing this restore process on your own, you should also be comfortable with creating your own disks. Also, most HP/Compaq machines can be restored without disks as long as you don’t mind sacrificing the small percentage of disk space that is already allocated for system recovery. Having the restore media might still come in handy if you had a hard drive failure, but if under warranty, the manufacturer’s replacement might be preloaded with the appropriate software.
If you are not comfortable restoring your own system, then you would probably get the geeks to do it for you. You should note, however, this service is NOT included with your extended service plan. The recovery disk creation by the Geeks costs a whopping $59 bucks, but if you contact your manufacturer, you can probably get disks from them. I can order recovery media for my laptop from HP for just over fifteen dollars.