Windows investigates: after-sales support

If you’re the kind of technology buyer who reckons that one five-megapixel digital camera or dual-core laptop will perform roughly the same as the rest, then what factor do you base your final purchasing decision upon?

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By  Administrator Published  July 11, 2007

If you're the kind of technology buyer who reckons that one five-megapixel digital camera or dual-core laptop will perform roughly the same as the rest, then what factor do you base your final purchasing decision upon? Price is probably involved, but you should also consider how easy life will be should your purchase ever break down. Here Windows explores - and compares - the warranties and support offered by major international vendors.

In putting together this guide we quizzed the in-house warranty and after-sales support managers at six of the region's leading international product vendors; those companies that sell a wide range of consumer technology and IT products. What follows are details of these vendors' Middle East support policies and our considered verdicts on each.

Acer

Warranties offered

Acer's notebook PCs and LCD monitors are supplied with international warranties of one and three years respectively. Acer's ‘Collect & Drop' scheme - whereby an Acer partner will pick up a faulty product, repair it and deliver it back to you the customer - also applies to these notebooks and displays, though only currently in the UAE and to some extent in Saudi Arabia. As with most of Acer's warranties, these support packages cover for ‘parts and labour' - in other words, any new components required and the cost of the staff installing them.

On the desktop PC front, Acer's commercial or corporate PCs - AKA its ‘Veriton' line - offer longer three-year warranties. The first year of this support is ‘on-site' (at the place of business), then parts and labour (on a return to base or RTB basis) thereafter. Acer's SMB desktops offer one-year parts and labour warranties, though Acer servers come with three-year on-site warranties.

Acer's projectors feature two-year parts and labour warranties, as do Acer's impressively supported digital camera products. PDAs offer one year of support.

Extending warranties

Unlike many vendors we talked to that only offer enhanced support through distribution or retail store partners, Acer sells its own extended warranties. For instance, a notebook customer can extend their one-year warranty to three years by buying ‘Acer Advantage'. "This can be bought anytime within the original warranty period," says Eugene Thomas, Acer's cost effective customer care manager. "Where we stand out however is that we also offer a second version of Acer Advantage that covers accidental damage too." The typical price for extending a notebook warranty from one to three years for example is approximately US$136 (AED500 in the UAE), rising by another 15% or 20% for the version of Acer Advantage that includes accidental damage cover. Being an Acer Advantage customer also entitles customers to ‘VIP' service, in the form of free technical phone support and priority service at support centres, meaning you'll get the best possible turnaround times. Find out more from www.aceradvantage.com.

Warranty activation

"Once a product has been bought, its warranty applies automatically," says Thomas. Windows found this policy to be the same with all the vendors interviewed here. It's not the case that the warranty card must be completed and returned to activate a warranty - this simply helps the vendor know who has what products and will speed up the process should you have to return any kit.

Support available prior to product return

"Usually customers go to our website, find our Support Request page, and input their query there," explains Thomas. "That's because most laptop customers for example are now pretty mature and would like to fix the problem themselves, maybe just needing a little help. The alternative is to call our support centre, which offers technical and customer support. In some countries our ASPs provides this service. "

Returning products

Thomas explains: "In general, other than Collect & Drop products, with problematic consumer products the user's first port of call is the retailer. The other option is to go to any neutral authorised support provider (or ASP). You can walk into any of these ASPs, whether you bought the machine from there or not. You want to do this if the ASP is closer than your original retailer."

Replacement products

Acer's warranties are based on product repair, so the firm doesn't offer replacements of any type.

Typical product turnaround time

"Typically five days is our outer notebook repair limit," claims Thomas.

Further details and resources

The relevant support website is at http://support.acer-euro.com/ whilst Acer's Middle East support line is +9714 800 4711.

Windows verdict

An impressive and comprehensive offer. We've remarked in the past on the value of the firm's Collect & Drop scheme to customers based in the UAE; now we hope the next step will be for Acer to roll out this service across more countries. Acer's two-year camera warranties stand out, as the norm is a year, and the company's Acer Advantage scheme should interest cautious and/or clumsy consumers.


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