When your laptop needs repairs, sending it through the United Parcel Service Inc. has always been a fast, reliable route to the manufacturer--but now, your Toshiba Corp. laptop can stay with UPS for a fix.
The guys in brown shorts who visit innumerable businesses every day won't be taking a screwdriver to your notebook. Instead, it goes to a central repair facility in Louisville, Kentucky. Most customers will get their laptops back the next business day after they ship it, says Joe Karcher, Toshiba's director of service-planning logistics.
"We'll at least be able to hit 95 percent; that would be a conservative estimate," Karcher says of the one-day turnaround offer.
Certified technicians employed by UPS perform the repairs. Most have eight to ten years experience repairing notebooks, Karcher says. All are trained and certified by Toshiba.
Here's how the process works: When you have a problem with your Toshiba notebook computer, you'll call the company's technical support line (+1-800/457-7777) as usual. If the representative determines that you have a hardware problem, you'll be referred to the nearest of the nation's 3300 UPS stores. Service reps there will package the laptop and send it to UPS in Louisville. Packing and shipping costs $15, which Toshiba representatives say is a discount on The UPS Store's usual rates.
Though most people think of UPS as being strictly a shipping specialist, the company has a fair amount of experience with repairs. UPS has been handling electronics equipment repairs for at least four years, according to Orzy Theus, a UPS representative. UPS technicians repair some cell phones, printers, scanners, projectors, and personal digital assistants under similar arrangements with several other manufacturers, Theus says.
Under this deal, Toshiba also benefits from other aspects of UPS's expertise, Karcher says. For instance, the shipping company's logistical capabilities mean shorter waits for parts to arrive. UPS will ship parts to the repair facility and store them there. In addition, Toshiba can use UPS's sophisticated system for collecting data about transactions to track what parts are causing the most problems with the company's laptops.
With that kind of information, Karcher says, "We'll have the ability to affect future hardware design."
Toshiba is also looking for ways to increase the number of laptop parts that users can replace themselves, so they won't have to ship the unit for repair at all.
The new system does not preclude Toshiba users from getting service in other ways. If you have a warranty through a retail store such as Best Buy, you can have the machine repaired there or you can bring it to another Toshiba-authorized service provider.
The arrangement with UPS does not apply to other types of Toshiba products, such as cameras and projectors.