Consumer Reports: To Repair or Replace, That is the Question

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Broken iPhone


Now that the holiday season has passed, one where parents and kids have a new assortment of "toys," many Canadians are enjoying their latest crop of possessions, some of which may accessorize things that they already have.

But every now and then, typically by accident, these new-found belongings can brake, typically by either falling on the floor or being used in an improper way.

While a home insurance policy can often cover the cost of fixing and replacing certain valuables, so long as they were insured prior to breaking and that there's enough coverage on the policy, technology has advanced to a point where it may sometimes behoove consumers to simply buy a new product rather than pay for having it fixed.


With this in mind, product review and services company Consumer Reports recently performed an analysis to determine how consumers can keep as much money as possible when a device or appliance of theirs breaks.

Celia Kuerszmid-Lehrman, deputy content editor of home appliances for Consumer Reports, indicated that saving money requires some forethought and preparation.

"Repairing broken items or keeping them going as long as possible isn't always the best way to save money," said Kuerszmid-Lehrman. "Our report spells out how much repairs usually cost, brands that breakdown and those that don't and cheap fixes you can handle to save money."

Consumer Reports did some of homework of its own regarding when to repair and replace.

  • Price check. The best way to determine whether a broken product should be fixed or replaced is through quotes. Repair companies should be able to provide you with an estimate of how much it costs to fix something. This cost estimate can then be cross-referenced with the sticker price of buying the same item new or refurbished.

  • Be selective about who repairs. If it is cheaper to repair, it's not always best to send it back to the company that made it. Consumer Reports found that based on survey data, more people who used independent repair shops were satisfied with their service than those who sent it back to the factory. A good rule of thumb is avoid repair shops that charge more than 50 percent of what it would be to have it replaced.

  • Warranties don't always pay off. When an item is first purchased, they'll often buy an extended warranty, which enables them to have their product fixed for no charge should it break in a given time period. However, Consumer Reports said that warranties don't always result in more satisfaction. In fact, these repairs were more likely to be done improperly versus than those who never bought a warranty or service contract.

  • Certain brands are more prone to damage. Consumer Reports said that by visiting its website, there is a comprehensive list of which brands are the most and least reliable from a standpoint of sustainability, holding up to accidents where a product might fall or malfunction.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada recently released some tips as well related to home insurance, how to perform a home inventory and what they should include when they're put together. IBC also has a worksheet that can be downloaded, containing boxes where homeowners and renters can fill in what the purchase price was of various items, their serial number, and where these devices are kept, such as in the living room, dining room or entry-hallway.
If policyholders have questions about filing a claim to have something fixed and how that might impact their rates, they should be sure to get in touch with their insurer.