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Should I get the service plan?

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Okay, I've got fourteen days to decide whether or not I want to buy a service plan from Best Buy for my new laptop. It's three years of coverage for $149. Normally, we never buy the things, but I'm less certain because laptops tend to be more fragile, not to mention harder to debug on the fly, than other hardware. Plus the shop person said that I can expect my battery to die in 10-12 months, and the service plan pays for itself with replacement batteries. But then, they're paid to say that, right?

So, to get y'all's opinion, I've made my very first LJ poll:
Poll #440900 Are Service Plans worth the money?

Should I buy the three-year Best Buy service plan for my new HP Pavilion laptop?

Yes
7(29.2%)
No
10(41.7%)
Maybe (explain answer below)
7(29.2%)

Your philosophy on service plans:

They're a scam. Never buy them.
2(9.1%)
Usually a bad idea, but sometimes okay.
15(68.2%)
What's a service plan?/I really haven't given it much thought.
0(0.0%)
Usually a good idea, but not always.
4(18.2%)
I love 'em! I always buy them.
1(4.5%)
I'm feeling:
contemplative contemplative
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On February 20th, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC), harmonyfb commented:
I'd say...for a laptop, a service plan is probably a good thing, provided it covers repairs for things like "ooops, the skunk knocked it off the table to the floor" or "I pushed too hard on the hinges, and they popped". After all, the risk to the unit is much, much greater than one that sits in one place all the time, and replacement parts for laptops are just ridiculously priced.
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On February 20th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC), elizabethpeake commented:
I bought my Presario Compaq a year ago, Valentine's Day. The battery works perfectly and except for some minor software issues, I've been very pleased. I know enough about computers to know that backups are essential. As long as you have them, you'll never pull your hair out if you ever need to replace a bad hard drive or reinstall the operating system.

~E~

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On February 20th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC), whirl_twirl commented:
I worked at a Best Buy many years ago - selling computers - and have a negative view of service plans. While not quite a "scam," they are usually not nearly as necessary as the salesperson would tell you. They are highly encouraged to sell those things because they are pure profit unless something breaks.

True, laptops are trickier to fix and more prone to problems than desktop computers. Assuming the battery does die in a year or so, what's the replacement cost of a new one? What is HP's power supply longevity (that would be more crucial to the laptop's operation than battery)? How long do you plan to use the laptop before upgrading to a new one? And how long is the warranty from HP?

I'm skeptical of extended warranties in general; however, I do hear more anecdotal stories of things crapping out on them. Our neighbor has an HP laptop and his DVD-ROM drive just died. Both of Stephen's Dell laptops for work have had issues needing repair. I think Consumer Reports actually does recommend buying an extended service plan for a laptop.

All that is to say while I don't like 'em in general, you probably should get one in this case. :)
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On February 20th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC), queenoftheskies commented:
I have an HP laptop that's over four years old now, and still works as well as the day I bought it. I don't lug it out of the house and around with me on a daily basis, and I do use my desktop computer for a lot of my writing work, but I love my laptop and have NEVER had one bit of trouble with it.

I didn't buy a service plan on it...but I didn't buy it from Best Buy, either, and the place I bought it didn't try to sell me one. :)
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On February 20th, 2005 04:11 pm (UTC), chance88088 commented:
I don't generally recommend service plans, but for a laptop I think they are a pretty good idea - exactly for the battery thing. (Then again, I have an apple and they are pretty bad with the batteries crapping out after a year, so totally worth it for me.) You might also look and some consumer guides and see how many repairs have been needed on them.

I would recommend you look and see what exactly is covered and what is excluded, though. (They don't generally cover accidental damage so the skunk knocking it off the table as someone mentioned above wouldn't be covered by it. Just part failure.)
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On February 20th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC), rigel_kent commented:
On my laptop I've had to buy a new battery (About $50) and there is a serial port in the back that I used for radio stuff where the pins are bent: the cost for fixing that would be about $90. (which is funny, because if it were in a desk top, I might be able to fix it myself and but the part for $5 if that)
So I would say to the salesman "If this warranty means that after I pay for it I can bring it home, take a sword to it (and add that you actually have one or two) fling it in the hot tub, fish it out and bring it back to the store and get a brand new one?" Absolutely, get the warranty. But if there are conditions, get the sales guy (or even better, the Service manager) to highlight those conditions on the contract to avoid any conflict later.
I used to sell ESPs at Wolf because they *were* viewed as pure profit, especially on the smaller, point and shoot cameras. On the larger, more complicated cameras, if something went wrong, those ESPs paid for them selves with one repair.
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On February 20th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC), wolfshaman commented:
My maybe explanation:

Check and see what HP already covers in their warranty. All of the major companies cover most defects. If the coverage does not satisfy you, then get the extended plan. My $.02. :)
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On February 20th, 2005 08:46 pm (UTC), pegkerr commented:
My husband works as a sales associate at CompUSA and always makes us buy the service plans, and not just because he gets a commission on them. And we've used them, too--I've gotten at one time or another a free replacement monitor, printer, hard drive, and Palm when those pieces of equipment died. I was dubious, initially, but after seeing the plans pay for themselves several times when we've had technical problems, I'm a believer.
On February 25th, 2005 05:45 am (UTC), (Anonymous) replied:
If it's any help . . .
Mr. Peg here:

I generally believe in service plans for many products. Weigh likelihood of failure + cost of repair vs. price of plan. I have received more than I have spent covering my computer purchases. Laptop coverage is pretty much a no-brainer for me.

Do you have to buy the Best Buy plan? CompUSA (where I work) has a laptop plan that costs more than the BB plan, but covers the accidental breakage of the screen (screen only) twice (!) over the life of the plan on a no-fault, no deductable basis. Also, HP offers an extended plan, with or without accidental coverage. Check their offerings before committing to the BB one. If the laptop purchase is already made at BB, CompUSA can still sell its plan, since we carry HP products. BB stresses the battery replacement, since that is the one part of their plan that we didn't match until just recently. We now also agree to replace the battery once per year if necessary, so that is not a very strong advantage for BB anymore.

There are several Georgia locations for CompUSA, or it is possible to work with me in Minnesota (in the backyard of the BB corporate headquarters).

Glad to expound further if you want more details or things to consider, or if there are other questions not addressed.

Rob
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On February 21st, 2005 01:57 am (UTC), scyllacat commented:
I'm skeptical of any kind or insurance or protection plans on computers. Usually once they're running (and your average 30 day warranty should cover that) they're good until, and usually way past, the time they're obsolete.

I'm doubly skeptical of Best Buy anything, being, in my experience, one of the most ill-prepared-to-offer-anyone-any-kind-of-service-whatsoever businesses it has been my dubious pleasure to patronize.

Finally, $149 is a lot of money.
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On February 21st, 2005 02:29 am (UTC), mtfay commented:
I've had my HP pavillion laptop for 4 years. It needs replacing. But the battery still works (though the charge life is down from about 4 hours to just over 2). My video card and LCD are going bad, however. Also, about 6 months after I bought it, I had to get the hard drive replaced cause Linus stepped on the computer and broke the hard drive. However, unless you haul it everywhere and in a not very good carrying case, you probably only need the extended warranty if you are concerned about the battery.
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On February 21st, 2005 06:12 am (UTC), skeletal504 commented:
eh, if you can afford it, i would go ahead and do it. you never know when some random disaster could strike. when i had my first pc, lightning struck our home and ruined some of our tvs, etc. it also ruined my computer. but the plan covered repairs. so it paid for itself. laptops are also quite fragile... and from one writer to another, when you're traveling, random shit can happen. heh.

my boifriend says she has seen you before at fantasm. random info for you.
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On February 21st, 2005 08:24 am (UTC), ex_girlmech commented:
I voted buy it, just because I'm a big skeptic when it comes to anything electronic. I had to replace my monitor after my girlfriend's car was totalled last X-Mas by that idiot driver (my computer was in the trunk) and I bought the 3 year warranty on the new monitor (of course the insurance paid for the new monitor, but not the warranty). $30, but it's MORE than worth it for the peace of mind.

With a laptop - doubly so. Smaller things I can't justify buying warranties on (graphics tablets, speakers, etc) but I'm happy to say that if the accident had been Bekah's fault, my Dell warranty would have paid for a new computer - which I'm getting anyway because mine is not working properly now. They're good to have, you never know what can happen. I never took my desktop ANYWHERE, and wham, I move, freak accident that I wasn't even involved in ... and my stuff was toast.

That's how I look at it, anyway.
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