LIGHTS OUT: Electronics technicians Jimmy Britton and his son James, of Byron Electronics, are concerned about moves to centralise repairs to appliances covered by extended warranties.
LIGHTS OUT: Electronics technicians Jimmy Britton and his son James, of Byron Electronics, are concerned about moves to centralise repairs to appliances covered by extended warranties. Jerad Williams

Electrical repairers unplugged

A BID by insurance companies to save money on extended warranty repairs is leaving Northern Rivers residents without appliances such as televisions for up to two months at a time and threatening local electronics repair businesses, a local repairer has warned.

Byron Electronics owner Jimmy Britton said some insurance companies that provided extended warranties had centralised repair work to Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

He said Sony was the only manufacturer not to go along with the dec-ision and to demand its products be repaired by local licensed repairers.

The change means that what was once a five-day deadline for repairers to fix an appliance under extended warranty had blown out to any-where from four to eight weeks.

Italso makes it less likely repairers will be able to find and fix some faults, particularly in complex high-end items such as high definition TVs, potentially leaving customers with a bill for ringing a false alarm, as well as their broken tellie.

“Some of these are intermittent faults,” Mr Britton said.

“A lot of them are bugs in the software and these are very complicated pieces of equipment.”

He said the change would hit customer service in smaller ways too. Local repairers were staffed by highly-trained electronics engineers who would also pick up and deliver app-liances. That meant they were there to install them and make sure they were running properly.

However, under the centralised model, appliances would be picked up and returned by delivery drivers not trained, or paid, to install them.

The other danger was that repairers such as him, already operating on tight margins, could be forced out of business without the income from extended warranty repairs.

“They might say it’s just another little bit, but it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he said.

“And then if (they) decide it doesn’t work there will be no one left in the area able to do it.”

Mr Britton said electronics engineers were highly trained and not easily found. If existing service centres closed, there was no guarantee there would be anyone left to start up again if the insurance company changed its mind.

A spokeswoman for Lumley insurance, which does extended warranties, was preparing a response to Mr Britton’s claims.



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