Software support contracts enable you to call an expert in near real time and get immediate assistance with any usability issues or errors allowing you to get back to work as quickly as possible.
Hardware support contracts, depending on the response level purchased, can provide replacement parts same day or next day, with or without a trained vendor technician to install them for you.
If your TV Set or iPod fails, it will probably not impact your ability to make a living, so a discussion of the value of support and service contracts on consumer electronics gear are a topic for another day.
Last night, after the monthly Microsoft Patch Tuesday updates applied, my computer requested to restart. I dutifully complied and walked away for a few minutes. When I came back, I heard a “jet engine” sound – which was the computer fans running at full speed with nothing but a green power light, no hard drive light activity and nothing on my computer screen. As a Computer Professional, I followed the appropriate diagnostic protocol and sadly determined that the motherboard had failed in my one month old computer.
As my desktop computer is critical to my daily productivity, I had a same day, four hour response hardware technical support contract on it. I called the manufacturer late in the evening, went through some additional troubleshooting steps and the support person concurred that the Motherboard needed to be replaced. A Tech Support Case was created for morning dispatch and by 11am a Courier had arrived with my new Motherboard. To expedited matters, I installed the Motherboard myself but I could have easily arranged for the manufacturer’s technician to stop by and install it for me. In fact, the assigned technician to the on-site tech support case called me around 9am to advise me that the part was in-transit and that he was available in-person or by phone at my discretion.
Within an hour of the part arrival, my PC was fully operational and I was back to work and getting on with my day. Without a Tech Support Contract, had I relied on the standard warranty, it would have taken one full business day for dispatch of the part and the technician.
Had this been a Consumer class PC instead of a Business class PC, the only option might have been to send it back for service to the manufacture or wait up to a week for on-site service – if even available. This difference in the standard business class system warranty options, in and of itself is a good reason to purchase “Business Class” systems vs. the consumer oriented models available at warehouse clubs and consumer electronics stores.
Had I been unable to work for more than a few hours, the lost revenue and productivity would have far exceeded the nominal cost of the same day, four hour response Tech Support Contract. In most cases, these premium option Tech Support Contracts cost approximately 20% of the list price for same day service and a little as 10% for guaranteed next business day service. When you look at the cost of not being able to do your work compared to a few extra dollars for the premium warranty options, the value becomes clear.
Even though my data was fully backed up, I still would have needed a system to run all of my software applications: Quickbooks, Microsoft Office, ACT!, Google Apps, etc. Compared to having a similarly configured spare system, or my willingness to purchase one at full retail – assuming one was available with comparable specifications, the least expensive, most expedient option was and is to have a current, in-force Tech Support Contract for my personal computer with the same day service option.
I would like to point out that my data was never at risk. I have rock solid backups of my data both on-site and off-site – I just could not get to my applications and data – until my desktop PC was fixed – to do my work. Had this been a catastrophic failure of the hard drive or a complete loss of the system (Fire Damage or Theft), of course, I could have done a full restore to a new hard drive or completely new system. And that would be expected for those situations.