Special Report: Fix it or Junk it?

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Whether its tax returns or the Super Bowl, February is the busiest month for electronic repair shops.

It's a difficult decision to make when your electronics break. Should you consider a repair or do you immediately begin shopping for a replacement?

It's never a good time for the television to break, but for most guys, Super bowl week is the worst.

"Went to turn it on last night and it didn't come on," said Jim Hall.

Hall's television is six years old. Age and size of the television are the biggest factors to consider when deciding to fix or junk a television.

"If the TV's over 10 years old there may not be a part available," said Fred's TV Owner David Windham.

Jim's hoping for a repair, but even Consumer Reports recommends replacing the set at six years. If the set is a LCD or plasma set, larger than 32 inches and less than six year old, a couple hundred dollars is worth it to fix it.

"You pay two thousand, or even a thousand dollars for a Television and it has a problem you just don't throw it away and go our and buy another one every two or three years," said Windham.

A crack in the screen of an LCD or plasma set is typically a deal breaker.

"Flat screens that people accidentally crack for whatever reason, they're real expensive to fix," said Mills TV Owner Charles Mills.

In that case, junk it. A broken DVD player is another story, no matter the age if the warranty's up. The cost of buying a new player is typically less than you'll pay to fix it.

"You can get one for less than 100 dollars to replace everything. We charge $35 to look at the unit, so sometimes that's not worth replacing the unit," said Mills.

So for broken DVD players, it's best to junk it and buy new. When it comes to computers there are many questions that go into whether to fix it or junk it.

"What do you do with your computer?" asked Albany Computer Assistant Manager Christy Goodwin. "What type of software are you running? Are you just sitting at home running email or are you running heavy video applications? What are you doing?"

A software problem is typically a fixable problem. "It's probably 90% of what we're doing right now is virus removal. A good antiviral program can stop a problem like that," said Goodwin.

Older software like Windows 95 or 98 may need to be junked if you're trying to run more modern video applications. Hardware problems can be costlier repairs, and may result in junking the computer for a newer model.

"You can get a great refurbished system that have had hardware and software upgrades that are way less than a new computer, but just as reliable," said Goodwin.

Digital cameras don't last as long as film cameras . A newer, cheaper model camera repair cost can often be more than buying a newer model.

"For that reason do you want to sink another $100 into repairing this camera that you bought for 200 and you can replace it and get more features for about the same money," said Camera Crafts Owner Linda Appleman.

The cameras are good for about three years and when they break, it's the junk pile. But more expensive models may be worth the fix. A drop however, can be fatal.

"If there's a sensor problem, it's there's been a drop, it may not be feasible to repair," said Appleman.

Again it's the junk pile. The one thing we learned about all electronics is warranties aren't what they used to be. Typical one year warranties are now just 90 days and six months warranties have turned into three months, which may mean you're asking yourself whether you should fix it or junk it a lot sooner.

If you junk a television, a lot of repair shops will take the set off your hands, to use for parts at no charge. Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful also collects electronics for recycling on a daily basis and so many recycled electronics in January they had two pick-ups last month. The cost to recycle a television is $10.00.

  • Click HERE for Consumer Reports' simple Repair or Replace chart is designed to help you in your decision making process.
  • Click HERE for proper disposal techniques from Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful

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