How to get your tech repaired – and decide whether it’s worth fixing or replacing

From broken earphones to water-damaged iPhones, to laptop screens, here's the lowdown

From coffee cups to last year’s smartphone, there’s no escaping the fact we live in 
a throwaway society, and while low prices make it tempting to buy new rather than repair broken items, sometimes you can – and probably should – do the latter.

  • Find out all about the latest iPhone 9 from Apple here

1. What are my rights if a piece of tech breaks when it is new?

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Image credit: Simon Whitmore

You can ask the retailer for a repair or refund within 30 days. If it breaks within the first six months and the retailer can’t prove that it wasn’t faulty at the point of sale, you’re entitled to a free repair or replacement. If they refuse, contact Trading Standards.

2. Can I guarantee my stuff won’t break in the first place?

It’s impossible to know whether something will last for decades 
or not, but investing in a high-quality item usually ensures it’ll give you many years of service. One example is Dualit’s Classic toaster which, while expensive, should last 
for decades. And if anything does go wrong, you can send your toaster back to the factory in Surrey, where it will be completely serviced and any broken parts replaced. If you ask, they’ll even send you the test slices of toast before and after the restoration to show the improvement!

For more investment buys, check out buymeonce.com.

3. Is gadget insurance worth it?

If you’re prone to losing things it may be worth it, especially for larger items. While you can insure a bundle of small gadgets from just £40 to £60 per year, remember that the cost of the insurance plus any excess may work out similar to buying a replacement. Check your household insurance, too, as many policies offer gadget cover 
as standard. Also, many banks offer mobile phone insurance as an incentive if you pay monthly current account fees.

4. Is it worth repairing a broken TV?

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Image credit: Lizzie Orme

Given how inexpensive TVs are these days, you might not think it worth getting your fixed. And if your TV is more than eight 
years old it’s probably not worth repairing. Old CRT sets can be especially expensive to fix, as their parts and technology are so outdated. But if it’s more modern TV, parts can be easily odder and swapped in, so call the manufacturer or a repair shop for a quote.

You – or your engineer – may also be able to see what the fault is via the service/fault menu screen.

5. How to fix a broken phone screen or laptop screen.

Accidental damage is not covered by standard warranties, but there are lots of high street and online repair shops that specialise in screen repairs (try Geek Squad 
for official repairs). Stay clear of unofficial third-party repair shops – however temptingly cheap – to avoid invalidating your warranty, just in case your phone develops 
a technical fault down the line.

  • If you’re only talking minor scratches, rubbing a tiny bit of toothpaste on a soft cloth into the scratch using a circular motion can help reduce their appearance.
  • DON’T buy a cheap replacement phone screen kit online. They aren’t as easy to fit as they sound.

If you’re clumsy it might be worth buying a scratchproof screen protector and taking out insurance to cover drops.

6. How to fix a water-damaged phone

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Image credit: Tim Young

While the number of waterproof phones are increasing – the Samsung Galaxy S9 being a prime examples – most are, at best, splashproof. This means they won’t survive a dunking in a sink or pool unscathed.

  • Switch it off, and don’t attempt to charge it.
  • Quickly pour rice into a bowl or zip-lock bag and put your phone in it. Leave the bowl/bag in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard – not the oven! Wait 24 hours and, depending on how wet it was, the rice will draw out the water.
  • DON’T use a hairdryer, or open it up to wipe the insides.
  • After a few days, try turning your phone on. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll need to go to an official repair shop.

7. How to fix earphones or headphones

Before you do anything, check whether your earphones or headphones are under warranty. If they cost more than £100, this is more than likely, and you’re best off contacting the manufacturer to deal with any fault. If they are out of warranty…

  • Plug your earphones into a different device to make sure the issue is with them, and not your phone, laptop, etc.
  • Are you hearing an annoying crackling noise? Then there could be loose wires at the points where the wires connect to the plug, or where the wires connect to the earbuds. For a quick fix you could try wrapping the connection with Sugru – this is a mouldable glue that turns into silicone rubber. Alternatively, try electrical tape.
  • Another common fault with earphones is that you hear sound coming out of one side, but not the other. Usually, the issue will stem from the jack – the metal bit that plugs into your device. It’s a simple DIY fix if you have the right tools. We recommend this excellent guide from Wired.

So there you have it. Hopefully, we’ve helped you be greener by fixing broken equipment where you can. And also saved you time and money on repairs that just aren’t worth the cost in the long run.

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