What are your options if your gadget breaks during the lockdown?

Kyle Chua
What are your options if your gadget breaks during the lockdown?
Devices have become essential tools for the work-from-home employee. Here are the things you can do if you encounter problems.

There’s probably never been a time that we’ve been this reliant on our gadgets for entertaining ourselves, doing our jobs, and keeping in touch with our loved ones, among countless other daily activities.

Such is the current reality with strict social distancing measures being put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. But what do we do if our so-called digital companions break or stop functioning while we’re all stuck at home?

You might normally call your go-to repair guy or take your gadget straight to an authorized service center. With the current enhanced community quarantine, however, those options may be out of the window. So what can you actually do? 

If your phone is, by sheer bad luck, absolutely destroyed, well, you might have to buy a new one. But for less severe issues, here’s what you can do. 

Check with the manufacturer

The first thing we suggest you do is visit the manufacturer’s support page, and look up your problem. Most, if not all, manufacturers have easy-to-follow, step-by-step troubleshooting guides to help you fix your gadgets.

If the problem is not listed in any of the pages, try contacting them and asking about it through their hotlines or live chat. They usually have support staff on deck ready to talk to you even in our current circumstances.

Samsung Philippines, for instance, on April 17, resumed operations of its customer contact center to respond to your concerns about the company’s devices or appliances. It’s likely that other brands have also re-opened their helplines. Expect, however, that their support services may not be at full capacity at the moment. Even as we approach a possible general community quarantine (GCQ) implementation in more places, on-site workforces will be limited. (READ: EXPLAINER: What happens under general community quarantine?

Under the GCQ, hardware and accessories stores will supposedly be allowed to resume services in malls. It’s likely that this may cover computer hardware and gadget stores as well, and hopefully repair services. Under the GCQ, what remains closed are leisure places such as gyms, pubs, and cinemas. Keeping our essential devices functioning is certainly not of a leisurely nature.

Manufacturers might advise you to send it to their authorized service centers once they open, but, if you’re not willing to wait, there may still be a couple of other options you can try.

Especially if your devices are still fairly new and still under warranty, you’d want to consult first with the manufacturer before tinkering with it as you may risk breaking your warranty with do-it-yourself solutions. 

Doing it yourself?

Often though, you need a fix immediately. We have some basic tips here, just to jog your memory on your possible options. 

You can do a quick search of your problem online to see if anyone else has encountered it as well. Some people take to online forums to find fixes from other people who may have already resolved the same problem. Their suggestions sometimes work, but again, you can’t always be sure as they’re not always verified by the manufacturers. Again, that’s the risk. It helps if you have someone tech-savvy in the household who can try out online solutions for you.

You may also find YouTube videos that do the same. Often, you’ll have to go into the comments section to see if the solution has worked for some people, and to see what problems they encountered when they tried the fix.

Software fixes are usually easier than when you’re facing a hardware problem. With software issues, it’s usually just getting an update or ticking and unticking certain option boxes. Having another device handy, in case you need to manually download updates or backup your data is also helpful. 

If it’s a hardware issue? You’ll have to check if you actually have the right tools for the job, and always check for safety guidelines, first and foremost. Maybe it’s the skill you could spend some time to learn during the lockdown? Just remember that there’s always the chance that you’ll damage your gadget more or void your warranty in the process. 

Advice on third-party repair services

In case you’re not comfortable or haven’t had much luck doing it yourself, you can always send your gadget to a third-party repair shop. There have been a number of them recently advertising their services on social media, so you can try searching there. 

Beware, though, not all of these repair shops source top quality components. They might be cheaper, but they might not last as long as parts coming straight from the manufacturer. 

As with any deal you conduct online with sellers and service providers, do a lot of research about the shop you’re planning to work with. Inquire as much as you can from previous customers or simply talk to the shop directly about how they do their repairs. Read the comments. Again, there’s some risk involved here, but if you really need your gadget fixed as soon as possible, our options have truly been limited by the lockdown. 

It’s also worth noting that depending on your gadget’s manufacturer, sending them to a third-party repair shop can invalidate its warranty. 

Waiting it out

Now, if you’re not willing to take any of the risks mentioned above or are not really in a hurry to have your gadget fixed, your best option is to just wait it out until authorized repair centers are open again. That way you’re being serviced by trusted people.

Work-from-home measures will persist under the GCQ, and at one point, you’ll likely face some issues with the devices you’re relying on. Hopefully, relaxed lockdown rules will provide leeway for businesses that keep our tools running. – Rappler.com

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