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"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.

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 be—how 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 the results.

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 to do.

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.

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