Tuesday, February 19

Selecting a Repair Service for Your Home Appliances

appliance-repair.jpgRepairing an ailing appliance may make economic sense, but finding a reliable repair service is a perennial problem for consumers. The following Q&A provides information to help you locate a reputable repair technician.

What kind of repair service are you considering? What type is right for your appliance?

There are 3 types of repair services: factory, authorized, and independent.

  • Factory service is performed by technicians who work for the manufacturer.
  • Authorized service is performed by independent technicians who are authorized by the manufacturer to service their products. These technicians have usually been trained by the manufacturer. They tend to use test equipment and replacement parts from the manufacturer. They may also need to meet certain standards.
  • Independent service is performed by independent technicians that have no connection or contract with appliance manufacturers. Independent technicians may be able to service your appliance but they aren't authorized by the manufacturer and probably haven't received the manufacturer's training.

Is the appliance under the manufacturer's warranty?

If the appliance is still under the manufacturer's warranty, you should use the factory or an authorized service. Not doing so can void the warranty. To find an authorized service, use the book that came with your appliance. If you can't find your book, call the company or check the company's website. Don't rely solely on the advertisements online or in the phone book because businesses can just list the brands they work on and imply that they are an authorized service. If the ad says "authorized service," ask specifically when you call about your brand.

Working with a factory technician may also be beneficial if you end up replacing the appliance after a service call. Many manufacturers will give you a credit toward a new appliance (of the same brand of course) of at least the amount of the authorized service call.

Is the appliance under an extended warranty or service contract?

If so, then like the manufacturer's warranty, you must follow the instructions related to what repair companies may work on the appliance.

Is the service technician qualified to service the appliance?

What training and credentials does the service technician have? Certifications from the Professional Services Association (PSA), the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) or National Appliance Service Technician Certification Program (NASTeC) indicate that the technician has met industry standards for training and performance.

Does the repair service have a record of consumer complaint or satisfaction?

Check out the company (or the technician if independent) with the Better Business Bureau (or your local/state equivalent) or other consumer affairs office.

Is the problem simple enough to repair yourself?

Finally, consider repairing the appliance yourself. Up to 75% of the cost of repairing an item is related to labor. Some tasks—such as changing a heating element on an electric cooktop/range or changing the hoses on a clothes washer—are usually very simple. There are numerous sites on the Internet that can provide do-it-yourself instructions and videos. Start with the manufacturer's web site. Many of these provide information on repairs and ordering parts. Additional helpful web sites include:

Even if you decide the repair is beyond your skill or courage, educating yourself about the appliance will make you a more informed consumer who's better able to work with the repair technician for a successful repair.

Next: Can an Extended Warranty or Service Contract on New Appliances or Computers Be a Good Value?