3rd Party Smartphone Repairs: Safe or Scam?

There’s nothing more frustrating than a broken mobile. Having spent probably hundreds of pounds on a device that you’ve come to rely on, having that phone break down could be having you tearing your hair out. Fortunately, there are clever people around that know how to fix your phone, so all might not be lost, but you’re still going to be looking at paying a repair bill. With so many repair options around, 3rd Party smartphone repairs can be pretty tempting, since they tend to give lower quotes, but are they really worth using? We’re taking a look at the pros and cons of 3rd party mobile repairs…

What Exactly is 3rd Party?

We’ve taken a rather broad definition of 3rd party repairs here. In general, most mobile manufacturers have their own repair services (or their own certified repair shops), as do many mobile operators. Anything that does not fall under this heading is what we’re calling 3rd party repair. So, given the lower prices that you’re offered, what do you really need to take into account when choosing a repair service?

Repairs and Your Warranty…

If you’ve broken your phone your absolute first consideration should be your mobile warranty. Phones bought new will come with a warranty, though the length of that warranty can depend both on the manufacturer and on where you bought the phone. Even some second-hand models still come with warranties these days. If your phone is still under warranty then you should avoid 3rd party repairs like the plague. Why? Because the second a non-approved tech gets his hands on your expensive phone that warranty is invalid.

Plus, it just makes no sense to turn to 3rd party repairs for damage that may be covered by the warranty anyway, since your phone manufacturer/operator is likely to be paying that repair bill. And if the damage is bad enough, your warranty might even mean you get an entirely new mobile. In short, don’t take the risk?

Repairs and Your Insurance…

The same goes if you happen to have mobile insurance, which you might even if you didn’t buy it. Mobile damage may be covered under your home or car insurance, for example, or through your credit card company or bank if you bought the phone on your card. Again, insurance policies will generally have limitations on who can repair your phone and may refuse to pay out if you go the third party route. It’s up to you to check this out!

Okay, But I Don’t Have a Warranty or Insurance

If you don’t have a warranty or insurance then fine, you can consider using 3rd party repair shops, but there are certainly a few things that you’ll need to keep in mind before making any kind of decision. The prices you pay might end up being lower, but then, the risk is a lot higher too, so you’ll need to weigh things up and decide what’s the best option for you…

3rd Party Smartphone Repairs Downsides

There are really two distinct negatives to using 3rd party repairs. Firstly, to keep prices low 3rd party fixers do tend to use the cheapest parts available, and in the long run that can end up costing you more than it would have cost just to get the thing fixed properly. Particularly when it comes to screens and batteries, a more expensive but better quality replacement is going to end up lasting a lot longer, and is therefore worth the extra cash.

The second concern is that 3rd party smartphone repairs stores don’t always know what they’re doing and can’t always fix something properly. This was a big issue when Apple first started putting fingerprint sensors on phones, for example. 3rd party repair stores weren’t technically able to connect replacement sensors to the Apple chipset and therefore couldn’t fix the sensors properly for customers. So if some new fancy tech on your phone is broken, is probably worth going back to the manufacturer…

But Who to Choose?

We get it, sometimes money is an issue, and if you don’t have a warranty and there’s no insurance, then a £40 repair from a 3rd party store is going to beat out the £200 Apple certified repair. But if you’re headed down the 3rd party road (knowing all the risks involved), then obviously some stores are simply better than others. Several 3rd party fixers are fully accredited by mobile manufacturers to do certain kinds of repair, so you’ll want to look out for such accreditation. Geek Squad is a good example of this, and Apple have certified the company to do many iPhone repairs. In general, slightly more expensive, franchise repair shops are going to be a better bet than the dodgy lone store on a corner somewhere.

Which brings us to internet repairs. Again, some internet repair services are very reliable, and if they’re a big name with great customer reviews, then fine. But as a general rule, sending your expensive phone away to an address you’ve got off the internet? Not a good plan, no matter how great the quote you get is…

3rd Party Smartphone Repairs: Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that 3rd party repairs are a risk. Always. If you can avoid them, do so. A phone that’s under warranty or that has insurance should go straight to a manufacturer’s repair service. A phone with a difficult to fix or undiagnosed problem probably should too. And if you’re hooked on the cheaper options that 3rd party repair offers then look for manufacturer accreditation. Finally, if there’s financially really no other choice, then at least do your research and find customer satisfaction reviews for any service you’re considering (hint: look around the web for them, don’t just trust the reviews that are on the service’s own site!). A broken mobile definitely sucks, but paying for a repair that doesn’t work is even worse.

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