A clear warranty policy is key to avoiding trouble.
Explain your terms.
Many repair shops offer a warranty. Whether it’s 30 days, 3 months, one year or lifetime -many fail to explain the most important part, which is what their warranty covers! It’s important to explain precisely what is covered by your warranty if anyone asks, or you may find yourself in a sticky situation later.
People’s expectations of warranty policy are not always in line with what you offer.
You offer a warranty on the parts you replace. So, if you replace a screen, you offer a warranty on the screen against defects. Customers do not always see things this way, so it’s imperative that you explain this, even if it is a casual mention.
Customers expect that warranty covers future physical damage.
You might not anticipate that customers expect warranty to cover physical damage. If you explain that your warranty does not cover physical damage upfront, you are less likely to havethat customer come back expecting a free repair. If the customer hasn’t had this explained to them they may come back and discuss the situation as if there is partial blame on you, as if the crack occurred magically. Explaining this upfront is by far the best way to go because it plants the seed, ever so subtly, that you “don’t play that shit.”
Some customers see your repair warranty like a manufacturer’s warranty that covers “everything.”
You can’t blame people for expecting a warranty to be comprehensive. The average person has utilized a product warranty far more often than a repair warranty. It is important to understand the difference between a product warranty and a repair warranty.
When you purchase a new phone, you expect that the warranty that comes with this phone covers anything that goes wrong with it – so long as it’s not a result of your abuse. This makes great sense, for several reasons.
The manufacturer provided you with the entire phone.
You paid them for the entire phone.
It is up to them to warranty, to whatever is required by law, what they have sold you.
When you have a phone repaired, you get a different kind of warranty. The warranty typically only covers the part you replaced, rightfully so, for several reasons!
The repair shop has only touched a specific part of the phone.
You only paid the repair shop for this particular part of the phone they have replaced.
It is up to them to warranty what they have repaired, not the entire phone; for they have not sold you the entire phone!
One must be especially careful with warrantying Apple product repair.
Apple products are made like crap!
How may I count the ways?
820-2101, 820-2249 motherboards for A1226/A1260 Macbook Pros with no video issues.
Frames on A1226/A1260 Macbook Pros that crack over time.
A1286 2008-2009 Unibody Macbook Pros with glued together, split back display assemblies that fall apart.
820-2850 motherboards with PCB faults and overheating NVIDIA GPU failures
Some are cited, but people who work on these regularly are well aware of the ones that are uncited. There are many more, but I’ve got work to get back to.
These products are made to fail.
That’s great. Apple products are made to die – great for us. It’s why we can make a living repairing Apple products whereas we’d be on the street begging for change if we were repairing Lenovo products. The problem is that they will often fail while in your possession! When this occurs, you will often be blamed. You could be doing something as innocent as installing OpenOffice and OS updates on an A1286 2010 model, and when the motherboard fails 2 days later, they will blame you!
You need to protect yourself for when they fail.
You don’t want to be held liable for when products in your possession die, nor do you want to be stuck providing warranty service on an entire device when you are only servicing one part.
Make sure your warranty protects your business.
We would have to charge astronomical rates to stay in business if we were expected to warranty any issue on a product where we’ve only billed the customer for repair of one issue. Here are some ways
Service covers part repaired only.
This is key. Make it clear to the customer that service covers the part repaired only. Even if you are the type of business that provides courtesy service – you do not ant to be forced into providing courtesy service because of an unclear warranty being manipulated.
Service does not cover physical damage of any kind.
If you say that your warranty covers everything “unless you drop it again”, you’re setting yourself up for trouble, because people can always say it happened on its own. Make it clear that the warranty does not cover any type of physical damage to the screen.
Make sure your warranty matches your target demographic.
We’re in the hospitality and repair industry. The hospitality industry is focused on the happiness of the customer. The repair industry is focused on fixing a specific problem at a specific price and covering their ass for any additional liability.
These two are at ends all the time when providing customer service in a repair shop. However, both are equally relevant.
When debating what to do for your customer, think about what type of customer you target, and the type of service you provide.
How you provide warranty service does not reflect on your personal ethics & morality.
Customers will bring up how you should “stand behind your work” even when the problem they are requesting you to repair is not part of the original problem. Some people will feel compelled to do this free work to feel like they are doing the “right” thing. At the same time, some will feel compelled to not do the work because they feel they need to do the “right” thing by their business.
It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about your business’ strategy.
It’s important to realize that this is not about what is right or wrong morally or ethically. It’s about what is right in the context of how your business operates – what type of services your business offers, and who your target demographic is.
If you’re a boutique service, it’s ok to do courtesy service every now and then as part of your customer service, branding, and loyalty building strategy.
If you charge $125 to fix an iPhone 4 screen in 2014, or $350 to replace a white Macbook screen you might just be expected to do a little courtesy work every now and then. You charge a rate that allows for a more than healthy profit – in return, you go the extra mile to make people happy. If you make an additional $130-$170 for each job, this “covers” your premium service when you have to give 1 out of 20 people $75 in labor or $100 in parts for free.
You can’t make $320 off of a simple 10 minute job in our business if you don’t go the extra mile, and work with people.
If you’re a cheap service provider, don’t provide the courtesy service as part of your cost saving strategy.
If you make $20 off of every laptop screen you replace, you can’t provide a reinstall or a new drive if their drive dies a day later.
Your business’ strategy is based on offering very low prices. You can’t offer low prices and eat every expense from the misfortune of customers, because it would eat away at the low overhead that allows your business strategy to be successful.
You can be middle of the line and play it by ear.
We charge mid-level prices, and are always willing to hear a situation out. Sometimes we’ll perform courtesy service, and sometimes we won’t.
In each of the above situations, the customer service policy is based on the business’ chosen strategy.
A policy that is in favor of the customer or a policy that is in favor of the repair shop is not what is important. What is important is that your warranty policies are in line with your strategy and your mission & purpose. It is also important that both you, your technicians, and your customers understand your warranty policy, or things will go awry.
I’ve always been outspoken against price shopping for parts to repair laptops. You want to arrange by lowest price – you’ll get precisely what you bargain for, and eBay & Amazon are two of the worst cespools when it comes to purchasing repair parts.
Good Macbook glass aint cheap!
Today I’d like to use the example of Macbook glass. This was brought in by a customer hoping to save a few bucks. We charge $100 in labor to replace the glass, but $150 with our part. He got this for $19.99. Here are a few of the things you get along with that cost savings of $30.01. We repair the glass on A1278 Macbooks and also sell the part for those so inclined to repair it themselves.
Crap glass has inferior packaging.
Good glass has a screen protector that is flush against the entire surface of the glass, applied at the factory at the time of production. You won’t find dust, or any other junk under this protector.
The crap used glass has a white piece of paper over the backside of it. This is not factory applied, this is applied by a person – a lowly skilled one at that, who often eats over his work. You’ll find dust and all sorts Crap glass has inferior packaging. of crap between this piece of paper and the glass, as it is not sealed.
Crap glass has bubble defects.
You’ll have to look closely, click & zoom in to see. These defects cause angry customers, chargebacks,and bad reviews.
Crap glass has discolored borders
Ok, so the $100 camcorder doesn’t do a stellar job of getting this point across, but if you can see it with the crap JVC Everio, imagine how bad it is in person. The crap glass on the bottom isn’t even black – it’s grey.
What does this mean for the repair shop?
You are giving your customers excuses to bargain with you. You are giving them reasons to say “I’m not happy with this – I’m not paying.” You’re giving them reasons to leave a bad review.
What does this mean for the customer?
You’re turning a beautiful, $1200 laptop into a piece of shit. The very part you interact with on a regular basis is tainted in a manner that, even if it is subtle, makes it shittier to work on.
The price difference between the good stuff and the garbage isn’t that great. So, say no to white paper!
We get asked about whether we use original screens to fix iPhones on a regular basis. We’re compared to cheaper places that say they use original parts all the time. I want to clarify for a moment what “original parts” can be, and why the two words “original part” are not enough to make an informed decision on the quality of the part offered.
We claim to use original parts. So what? The other guy does too, and he’s cheaper.
Let’s assume the cheaper guy or gal is telling the truth. Most of the time they’re not – they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from telling you “no, it’s not original, it’s a knockoff.” Most will never tell you the truth. Let’s assume they’re telling you the truth and that they’re using an original part.
There are many different types of original! “Original parts” is a misleading term if not expounded upon.
The assembly method matters – how they’re put together.
The parts source for original parts matters – where the original part came from.
What is assembly and why does it matter?
Assembly is how the parts of the screen are put together.
The phone’s screen is composed of several parts. It looks like one part, however, your iPhone screen is comprised of several separate components.
LCD that makes the picture.
Touchscreen digitizer that senses your touch.
Glass that goes over the digitizer.
Frame that fits the screen into the phone.
A five year old can take an original glass, original digitizer, original frame, and original LCD and Elmer’s glue them all together. It’s still “original parts” – but I doubt you’d want that installed in your phone.
Improper assembly can cause inaccurate touch like typing P and O showing up, and display defects like messed up color. Our parts aren’t assembled by a backyard factory of amateurs. You can purchase parts assembled by Foxconn, parts assembled by equally equipt 3rd party factories, or parts assembled by junkyards.
Many parts we buy are assembled by Foxconn themselves, with the lowest industry defect rate.
What do you mean by parts source? It’s original or it isn’t!
Original parts can come from a factory, or they can come out of the garbage – literally.
Recycling is a common practice in our industry. Most of the time, all you did was crack the top glass – the image is still viewable. This creates a great recycling opportunity.
Most repair shops don’t want to bother replacing the glass by itself, along with all of the other work involved in repairing your phone. They replace the entire screen assembly, even if it’s just the glass that is broken, and throw away the old assembly.
These repair shops will give broken customer screens to refurbishers who replace the front glass and make them look like new. The refurbisher will sell these parts back to repair shops as new. then use these refurbished screens to fix other customers’ phones. The result is that your “new, original” screen literally came out of a repair shop’s trash bin!
Since the LCD he took out of the first customer’s phone came from a real iPhone, the LCD is technically “original.” HOWEVER – the LCD & touchscreen underneath are used, and they were probably dropped & beaten for god knows how long before being refurbished. It could have been in a toilet for all you know.
So why does this matter to you? Reliability. A refurbished screen has been dropped and used for years before it was installed in your phone. This makes it more likely to fail than a new part, but by the time it fails, your 30 or 90 day warranty is up, and you’re screwed.
We have confidence in the new screens we use and offer a one year warranty(unless you break it yourself).
Refurbs sound terrible. Why are they used???
Firstly, many companies selling refurbs are convenience, sales based businesses. They come directly to your store when you need parts, you don’t have to place an order. They’re always there reminding you when you need more stock.
Secondly, price. The price for these parts are excellent. We actually pay less for non-refurbs than the local refurbishers charge for their refurbs, but it did take five years of shopping around to establish these relationships. It is easier to purchase from the first refurbisher who walks through the door, than it is to spend time doing research into developing relationships with quality parts vendors.
Thirdly, appearance. Most new to the business do not know where to buy “original” LCDs. A refurbished part may have come out of someone else’s phone – but the upside is that it is indeed original, so the color quality looks the same as the original. This means that newbies to the business bypass a common customer complaint – “why doesn’t this look the same as my old screen?”
Refurbs are the easy way to eliminate price and quality issues in the short term. However, using refurbs is bad for the long term reputation of the repair business that chooses to utilize them.
Where we draw the line.
We also sell broken screens to refurbishers. The difference is we don’t buy them back – the transaction ends after they’ve given us money in exchange for the broken screens. We use that money to purchase new screens from a separate supplier.
I’ve worked with refurbishers for several years. Like everyone I do business with, I believe in good supplier relations – I have some great relationships with the refurbishers in the area; which is how I know that over half the repair shops in NYC buy these refurbs, knowing they are refurbs. I know them, by name. I’ve got some tact, so I’m not mentioning names.
My mother always told me not to shit where I eat. I’d like to expound on those wise words and suggest that iPhone repair shops do not shop with the vendors that will buy their trash. If someone will buy your broken screens, don’t buy theirs – you know exactly where the “new” screens they’re selling came from, and when your customers come back with flickering, intermittent issues, ask yourself if it’s worth the few bucks saved on refurbs.
I’ve put a fair amount of brain-time into replying to this thread on macrumors. I feel like it’s worth tossing on the site. Several arguments are going on here, from whether it is ethical to have a short warranty timeframe, whether you should expect an older Apple device to fail post repair.
The thread is essentially my reply to someone who had their device serviced elsewhere, and my thoughts on his criticisms.
My thoughts in a nutshell
If it’s an Apple motherboard older than 4-5 years old, you may be better off keeping it dead.
Ask about the warranty, what is covered, what is not, and what type of service to expect post-warranty prior to purchasing a service.
Outside the 1% of the cases where there is some legitimate nonsense involved, we’re not replacing a screen again for free if you crack it. Explanation below.
Anyone who has been in this business for long enough has heard the plight of the person whose phone cracked again “out of nowhere”…. honestly, if someone tells me the truth, we give a discount. Depending on how we feel that day, the part cost, and how many jobs are in the queue, it might even be a generous one. But, if you tell me I made your phone crack again… it’s going to cost retail. Might even be out of stock of the part we need to fix it again that day.
Seriously, don’t insult the intelligence of the person at the counter by telling them we gave it back to you cracked. Thank you.
I posted this to eTech Parts’ facebook page a while back. Editing it slightly for the blog.
People think that insurance is competition for independent repair shops. Some customers will discuss how they can just use insurance, but more often, lately, I speak to mobile phone repair shops that actually feel threatened by insurance.
Your competition is very rarely insurance. Please realize that most people would sooner perform fellatio on a homeless person than wait on hold for 45 minutes with a brainless dolt or fill out tons of paperwork to get their phone replaced by an insurance policy. The bureaucracy involved works in your favor, being the small, lean business you are. You can offer better service. We can offer better service.
Even if it’s at a Verizon store, the amount of time it takes to wait for a rep to get to you is less time than what it takes for my junior receptionist who started 3 weeks ago here to fix your phone. Leave your name & number and come back in 20 minutes out of a storefront owns insurance every time – even when insurance IS CHEAPER.
I can’t tell you how many people have come back even when, for their particular reason, insurance would have been cheaper. It’s not fun. A premium should be put on convenience.
Apple has offered flat rate mobo repair to many people for $280, we charge $325, and yet it still accounts for over 20-40k/mo in revenue. Some people just don’t want to deal with the hassle involved in having the job done by “the man.”
I would highly suggest anyone reading this seriously consider writing their local politican to tell them how fucked up it is that Apple is using federal law enforcement as their personal mafia. If you’ve ever dropped a phone and had it fixed for $120 less than Apple’s quote while keeping your data, this is an assignment for you. If you’ve ever spilled water on your computer and saved $500-$800 off what the Apple store told you it’d cost by coming here or elsewhere – you OWE it to our industry to be pissed off about what is happening. If you continue to let it happen, we might not be here next time you need us, and your local genius bar is going to be MUCH more crowded than it was on your last visit.
I’ve been hearing more and more stories of repair shops being raided for repairing Apple devices. There are 101 and more problems with this. Let’s start from the top.
APPLE DOES NOT MANUFACTURE A PLETHORA OF THE PARTS THAT GO INTO YOUR APPLE PRODUCT.
Open your Macbook. See where it says LP133WX2-TLG6? That’s an LG part, not an Apple one. If I want to buy that from Apple, it’s going to cost a lot of money. If I buy that from an LG broker, who is selling Grade A LG screens, it will cost $35-$100(depending on when), which allows us to charge $170 for this repair, instead of $300.
The same is true for an iPhone. Many use a Toshiba, Sharp, or LG LCD – NOT AN APPLE LCD.
I’m not going to dispute that there are tons of knockoff screens. Are there TONS of products on eBay & Amazon claiming to be OEM that are refurbished trash? OF COURSE! THEY SUCK!!! I HAVE SEEN THEM. I HATE THEM, I HATE THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THEM, AND I HATE THE PEOPLE WHO SELL THEM! I hate them because they make it harder for people who use good parts – for vendors who SELL good parts, to get by. Because we have to compete with the trash, and explain why we cost 5% or 10% more money. It sucks.
But, you know what? I support their right to sell trash if the alternative is living in a world where you have to be certified by a manufacturer to fix THEIR PRODUCT.
Sometimes, the knockoff is truly trash. At other times, the knockoff is actually good… very good. Like, original LCD, original digitizer/touchscreen, and a knockoff frame. The little plastic piece that goes around the phone. That piece alone being knockoff saves $30-$40. And, when you’re struggling to get people to pay $65 total to fix their device, yes, I’m willing to get a part that has a frame that was not produced by Apple. A frame that is absolutely, positively, for all intents and purposes – the same thing!
I value our ability to choose what compromises we offer our customers. Thanks to Yelp!, Google+, citysearch, and Facebook, it becomes obvious quickly which businesses compromise too much. Social media allows customers to tell the world who is using good stuff and who is using garbage. Natural selection in modern commerce does the job Apple & ICE are claiming to be doing, and they do it a lot better.
The REAL job they’re doing is an attempt to monopolize the industry. This comes right as Apple decides to start servicing their own products in their own stores. This comes right at the time that Apple lowers the prices of certain services. It’s not a coincidence, it’s part of their strategy to destroy an industry of mom & pop repair shops that do the job better than them.
We, as a repair shop, have the right to fix your products. We have the right to charge $75 to replace a backlight fuse when Apple tells someone it’ll cost $850 for a new motherboard. We have the right to get the job done in an hour when you tell them it’ll take 3 weeks because the job can only be done at a centralized facility. We have the right to get someone’s phone back to perfect condition in 20 minutes for $65 when you tell them it’ll be $200 and lose them their data.
We have the right to be better than you.
and if you have a problem with it, you should focus on being better than us before you turn our government agents into your personal mafia.
We have the right to fix the glass on your phone – the phone that cracks when it drops 10x easier than my HTC One S ever did. We have the right to replace the back cover to a screen assembly on a 2008-2009 “Uni” body machine. The machine you made in two pieces that you marketed as a single body for YEARS – where the pieces are GLUED TOGETHER like a kindergardener’s arts & crafts homework. A product that was designed so badly that the fan exhausts HOT AIR RIGHT ONTO THE GLUE. We have the right to fix what you fucked up, without charging a customer $650 just because we had to get the part from you.
And yes, depending on circumstances, that part may have an Apple logo on it. It’s an Apple computer. Whatdaya think people are gonna do, cut it out and put a lemon in its place? While it’d be fitting, it’s a labor cost most would rather not pass onto their customers.
Produce better products, provide better repair services for these products, and stop adding 500% middleman charge onto parts. Maybe things will be better for EVERYONE. Thanks.
Sometimes I go out and read questions that other people are asking about our business online. Sometimes, I’ll even answer them. I felt this deserved its own blog entry. The question was posted on the facebook page of another company by a small repair business owner – what to do during the slow season? Here is the gentleman’s question, and my reply, direct copy & paste.
how bout some tips on increasing business during slow times of the year . The past month has been brutal here and i dont know how much longer i can stay in business . Lots of competition here with more and more Metro Pcs stores offering repair at incredible low rates to Craigslist ads .. Any advice?
How to survive the slow season, the Rossmann way.
a) Do stuff other people aren’t. Does MetroPCS fix water damage? Does MetroPCS replace Macbook Air screens? Does MetroPCS do data recovery?
b) Don’t compete on price. Does MetroPCS give a shit if there’s pressure points on the screen? Does MetroPCS provide a one year warranty?
Here stores that sell service and fix phones at the same time, are usually bottom of the barrel. Staffed by people who learn off youtube, who use the worst quality parts, who fuck up everything. It’s like a stereotype in Manhattan, they’re the street merchants, the peddlers… they almost can’t help but sound shady. I figure it must be different in more civilized parts of the U.S.
I use this to my advantage. I don’t consider it competition. My “target demographic” wouldn’t go there. Something is wrong when someone walks in and sees amplifiers, logic boards,being worked on at component level, smells the solder fumes, sees a line of happy customers picking up their items with *real* technicians at work but ignores all of this to spout “but the guy in the 99 cent store that sells red pocket and fixes phones is five bucks cheaper.” The guy you pass the frozen foods section to see.
God damnit you assclown, do you really not see what separates us from them? What makes us worth the five dollars extra? It’s always my pleasure to send them on their way. Fuck off. You’re not my demographic. Thanks for letting me know you’re not worth me spending even five seconds explaining what you get for that $5 by using comparison-based-bargaining with the motherfucker at the 99 cent store.
Don’t see this as lost business. That business was never yours to begin with. Those people have no money, for you, or the guy(or gal) from the 99 cent store. And if they do, their money is best spent with the dude competing on price. Customers like that who will throw away a chance to spend 5% extra to get 100% more, they’re a pretty miserable brand of people, and I’d much rather see them walking through other people’s doors, giving other people money, becoming someone else’s responsibility – someone ELSE’S nightmare.
c) Focus on demographics. Do the demographics you advertise to care about a one year warranty, a lack of pressure points on the screen, a lack of dust under the glass, or just price? If they don’t care, find a demographic that does.
d) Do you advertise? backpage? kijiji? olx? craigslist? adwords? website? What are you doing to get more business?
e) Does your website answer all questions quickly & concisely? Do you ask each and every one of your customers why they chose you over others and then make this information readily available on the product pages & homepage of your website?
Figure out what people want to know about you. It’s really easy. Unlike when you were a kid and had to read 900 page textbooks to learn & pass a test, here you can cheat. Ask people. Cheat. Seriously, there are so many books, consultants, who claim to tell you what you need to do to make people happy. I laugh talking to people who tell me for $500 they’ll tell me how to better relate to my client base… how about I just fuckin’ ASK them? “Why here? What led you here vs. the other place?” Figure it out, what led them to you vs. somewhere else.
Now build upon those reasons. Grow as a person & a business based on what they tell you. Then take this growth and plaster it on the front page of your website, the front window of your store, the front wall of your office, the front tree of the park you’re working out of because you can’t afford an office(been there, done that). And get more business.
Now, you have something to be proud of. You see, while any street peddler with a low price and a sign can get a customer, you did something different. You earned a client, and you earned it in the best possible way – by being a better version of who you were yesterday. Customers come and go, but clients are forever – if you treat ’em right, and clients, unlike customers, are earned. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your newfound financial security, because you didn’t just fall into it – you earned it through self improvement. You built it from crap, and you just kicked that 99 cent store’s ass. You just kicked that MetroPCS store’s ass.. and while I’m not really for competition/destroying the competition like that, it sure is FUN to destroy places that get their rocks off by fucking up the market with low quality goods/services by sodomizing them properly.
I’m busy even in the dead of winter because no one else is doing the shit I do at the prices I do it at, and I’m not cheap either. Nothing keeps you warm in the winter like a client base, and there’s noplace colder on MY block in the dead of winter than the prepaid phone service store.
I fucked up this Nexus 7 that I just bought. Dropped it into a sink full of water. No more power button.
I was dreading opening this. I don’t have a Hakko at home, any prytools.. but wait. This ISN’T some overpriced, nonsensically put together Apple piece of crap! There may be ANOTHER WAY. I am so used to working on iJunk all day that it never occurred to me that they actually make these parts user accessible.
You mean I can pry off the back with my nails in 20 seconds? You mean I DON’T need specialized tools to remove glass that is glued to the power button & antenna? AND this shit costs less money than an iPad?
I got rid of some crap on the power flex and it was back to working in under one minute.
Yeah, can’t say I’m getting off the ASUS/Lenovo/Linux/Android bandwagon for a while. Three cheers to ASUS for making something user serviceable instead of a pile of glue and ripped flex cables.