April, 2006
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Greater Computing Mobility Means More Accidents


As laptops more frequently become workers’ primary computers and as more people work from home, accident stories are on the rise. Stories that come into the CDW Technology Services Specialty Team vary from the common, “I dropped my computer on the street,” to the bizarre, “A bulldozer ran over it.”

Unfortunately, when laptops are dropped or have water damage, they often cannot be repaired without specialized tools and parts. It is often likely that it would be more economical to buy a new laptop than pay to have the old one fixed.

Manufacturers have responded to this problem by creating a service called ADPS (Accidental Damage Protection Service), a program that provides additional coverage when inadvertent mishaps such as spills or drops occur. You can purchase it regardless of where or what brand of computer you buy.

We’ve seen this service increasingly become attractive to businesses partly because it provides an extra measure of cost certainty on computing purchases. You can never know how often your users will break their computer, so it is difficult to include replacement costs in your budget. Under this service you typically pay about $200, and your computer is replaced free if it cannot be fixed by the service provider. This compares to a cost of up to $1,200 to replace a cracked screen.

We have seen many IT managers purchase this service for employees who work in the field or in their homes because of the increased likelihood of damage. There have been more than a few cases of computer damage when a user’s child spills juice on the computer or a laptop goes through airport security. When damage occurs, the user sends the computer directly to the service provider, avoiding the extra steps of sending it back to the IT department and having an IT staff member send it out for repair and then back to the field employee.

I Have A Warranty; Why Do I Need ADPS?

Most warranties are primarily designed to cover parts that were defective before you bought the computer. If a part becomes defective after the user spills coffee on the keyboard, it is generally not covered by a warranty but is covered by ADPS. Screen damage, such as cracks, tends to be one of the more common maladies from broken laptops. It is typically not covered by a standard warranty.

What Is Not Covered By ADPS?

ADPS will not pay for repairs resulting from intentional damage. The manufacturers get to determine the distinction between accidental and intentional. In our experience, though, most of the major manufacturers are pretty flexible to keep customers happy, but if a laptop comes in appearing to have been kissed roughly by a hammer, you’ll likely be out of luck.

Data recovery services are also not included. If your hard drive is accidentally damaged, ADPS includes fixing or replacing the hard drive. It does not mean you will be able to recover lost data. Before you buy a computer, get advice on what recovery services are available if you should need them.

Know Terms & Conditions

While ADPS is available throughout the industry, terms and conditions vary across different manufacturers. It is important that your technology provider helps you understand all the program nuances to make sure you understand the benefits and limitations before you buy.

The most common source of customer frustration is that they forget when their warranties expire. When you get any kind of warranty, create a reminder system to give you at least a 30-day alert so that you can schedule appropriate work to be done. After warranty expiration most manufacturers take a hard line, so you may be out of luck.

Do I Really Need ADPS?

We recommend considering how and where the machine will be used to determine if the user needs the service. Is the machine going to be used in an office or a home? How frequently does the user travel with the computer? Is the machine going to be used on a work site? The more the machine is at risk for accidents, the more likely you need ADPS. It is also worth noting that you can buy ADPS for Tablet PCs and some high-end PDAs, as well as desktops and laptops. Since tablets and PDAs are very mobile, they may be good ADPS candidates.

“Growing worker mobility makes accidental damage protection more important to businesses today,” says Lance Millington, a partner business manager at HP. “Taking your laptop from place to place increases the odds of an accident, and this service is a good way to minimize downtime when a mishap occurs. Businesses simply can’t risk productivity loss.”

Copyright 2005 CDW Corporation. Reprinted with permission.