You're likely to get charged more if you tell the PC repair shop you have insurance

By Shawn Knight · 14 replies
Jun 22, 2016
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  1. Researchers at the University of Innsbruck recently conducted a study to determine whether or not having a computer repaired with the backing of an insurance provider would affect the overall cost charged by a repair shop. The results probably won’t surprise you.

    As Ars Technica highlights, researchers purchased a series of identical refurbished computers and disabled one of the two RAM chips inside. With Windows 7 Pro, this prompted a self-diagnostic message while booting up that correctly pointed to a memory issue.

    The computers were then taken to randomly selected repair shops in Austria. The “owner” followed a pre-determined script when dealing with the shops, noting that the computer wouldn’t boot and they’d like the shop to fix it. The owner also requested an itemized bill although half the time, they added that they needed said bill because the repair was being covered by insurance.

    Economists note that adding insurance to the equation creates what’s called a moral hazard as neither party has any incentive to minimize cost. If anything, it gives the repair shops the opportunity to be dishonest.

    Out of the 61 shops researchers visited, three said the computer couldn’t be fixed or that it would be cheaper to just buy a new computer. It’s unclear if the repair technicians were incompetent or simply trying to get the user to buy a new system from their shop but either way, these results were excluded from the analysis.

    It is worth noting that one shop did the diagnostics for free while the other two charged a fee. The two that charged were informed that the user had insurance.

    Four shops billed the customer for parts they didn’t install although these were split evenly between the experimental and control groups. Five other shops, meanwhile, charged for repairs that weren’t needed and in each case, the shop had been informed that insurance was handling the matter.

    All said and done, the study found that uninsured repairs cost an average of €70 (~$79 USD) while insured ones averaged closer to €130 (~$147 USD). Much of this cost had to do with billed labor time. Uninsured repairs on average were billed for half an hour less compared to insured repairs.

    Image courtesy Tanja Esser, Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,377   +286

    PC Repair Shops, no #1 spot to get ripped the **** off if you are not tech savvy ^^
  3. seeprime

    seeprime TS Addict Posts: 128   +106

    The primary reason is that Insurance companies want documentation and evidence of the failure. These steps add a substantial amount of time that needs to be paid for. We have a set charge for our service work in our shop. But, when requests for Insurance quotes are made, we inform the customer that their is a $35 additional charge for the time. There is no rip off. Just a charge for time spent categorizing bad components and writing up a report in a format that Insurance companies prefer. Each insurance company is different in what they need from us to process the claim.
  4. seeprime

    seeprime TS Addict Posts: 128   +106

    It's nice of you to offer to repair others computers for free.
  5. The year of stupid studies.
  6. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,828   +633

    Well I guess in Canada people are too afraid of their premiums going up if they make a claim for something as minimal as computer repair, seriously, I don't think anyone ever said they had insurance that was going to cover the bill when they brought in their PCs. However the store I worked at was actually pretty honest in the work and services we provided. Yet customers still occasionally refused to pay for a $35 diagnostic if they weren't going to have us fix their PCs and just wanted it back, the concept of time spent doing a diagnostic is time lost that isn't free was lost on some people. On the flip side other places would charge absurd amounts of money for the simplest work which leaves a bad taste in people's mouths in regard to any PC repair service, I am of course talking about BestBuy.
  7. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,377   +286

    No but the local repair shops here in UK charge ridiculous prices to repair piss easy problems. I know, gotta make a living but in this day and age... I guess if you can milk fools then why not.
  8. Randomthom

    Randomthom TS Enthusiast Posts: 50   +17

    Too small a study group to really give any useful information... NEXT!
  9. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,147   +915

    This was a fair few years ago now (back when I was at school in fact) but I remember my parents taking the family computer to PC world to double the RAM from 512mb to 1024mb. All they had to do was slot in an extra RAM stick... They charged £192!
  10. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 860   +874

    OP never said they were offering their services for free.

    I certainly never offer my services for free, I charge the same amount per hour I get paid professionally. And my bills are still a order of magnitude lower then what PC shops charge for services.
  11. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,319

    Guess im the only one, but if ANYONE im acquainted with has PC problems, I offer my help for free (minus any parts) as to avoid wasting people money and spread knowledge as to how people can deal with that stuff better in the future.
    But maybe on a more general level no one feels they have the time or reason to help others anymore. guess im just weird like that.
  12. herbalfire

    herbalfire TS Enthusiast Posts: 46

    Sounds about right for DDR1 ram lol
  13. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 814   +371

    True for every industry that exists.
  14. trparky

    trparky TS Addict Posts: 246   +115

    I offer my computer repair services to people who know me, I usually charge $75 per job. If the job takes one two hours, it's $75. If the job takes five hours, it's $75. I usually tell people that they're going to be charged a hell of a lot more if they go to the Stupid Squad at Worst Buy.

    If I need to put RAM in, it's part of the job. SSD installation? Part of the job. OS installation? Part of the job. Software installation? Part of the job. Driver installation? Part of the job. Connecting hardware like printers and networking? Part of the job. I don't nickel and dime people. Flat rate fee of $75 per job/trip to the person's home. The only thing I charge more for is the parts themselves.
  15. wayne1486

    wayne1486 TS Rookie

    I wish we could have known the shops that were honest and they ones which weren't

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