"To Fix or Not To Fix"
If you think that the decision whether or not to repair broken
equipment is an easy one, then you certainly need to read this
article. Sometimes of course, with certain equipment, there is no
doubt of the value and desirability of the piece and the only question
is the choice of the most qualified servicer. The older, more
complex, or more broken the piece however, the trickier it becomes to
make the right decision. A service professional who is familiar with
your machine will recognize a number of possible outcomes when he
first lays eyes on the machine. Even the best of us cannot predict
all contingencies in advance, so risk cannot be eliminated, only
managed. The purpose of this article is to give you a sense of the
factors which are likely to affect your repair outcome so you can make
the best decision.
What is at stake here? Quite simply, everyone desires to receive
the best performance and reliability at the lowest possible cost. If
repairing your machine achieves this, then that is your best option.
If your machine is toast then it should be replaced. Extreme cases
for good or ill are easy to call. It is the ground in the middle, the
judgment calls, which must be approached carefully.
Value vs. Cost vs. Reliability
The value of any piece of equipment can be quantified very
precisely, and it varies greatly according to condition. A given
machine, brand and model, will have a parts value if it is broken and
non-restorable. It will have a greater value if it doesn't function
properly but can be restored. By far the greatest value is obtained
if the machine is in pristine, restored condition. This best
condition is in fact the objective of any quality repair, so mint
condition is the indicated value after service.
The simplest test of the wisdom of pursuing a given repair is to
ascertain the restored value of the piece and to compare that value to
the repair cost. If the value of the piece is much greater than the
repair cost, then it is obviously wise to fix it. If the repair cost
greatly exceeds the value of the machine, here again the answer is
obvious. It should be replaced. The closer these two figures are,
the more it becomes a judgment call. In these cases, you must
consider other factors.
Reliability: Suppose your repair cost on a given machine is
very close to its value. Ask the servicer how reliable the machine
will behow long will it work? How likely is another failure?
Bear in mind that predicting future failures is much like predicting
the weather. It is inexact, but a good servicer knows the track
record of the machine and can give you something to consider. Common
sense prevails here, the more reliability, the greater the value, the
more reason to revive the patient.
Sentiment: Suppose you have a machine which doesn't cost out
favorably, but it was a gift from your father, and you know that he
would be pleased to see it working well when he visits next month.
Insert here any such sentimental consideration. If you wish to spend
more on a machine than its value, that is your right and decision.
The service professional may wonder about it, but after you know the
cost vs. value, he has done his duty in informing you. Do make such
decisions with your eyes open though so you will later be pleased with
Replacement Problems: Suppose you have this marvelous piece of
furniture and your broken piece of equipment fits it perfectly. You
have looked for a suitable replacement to no avail. This may be a
good reason to pursue an otherwise uneconomical repair. Many similar
situations may accrue, and the judgment call is yours alone. Be sure
to be as clear as possible on all other factors before deciding what
In the final analysis after you have considered all I have
mentioned so far, you are in much better condition to decide wisely
what to do with your broken machine. As long as your servicer is
competent and has your best interests at heart, you should get good
results. If you need or desire to understand the repair process more
fully, refer to other articles in this series.