Continuing this weeks theme of looking into why Cheaper Rugged PDA’s aren’t actually a bad deal or a risk these days, I’ve been tasked with talking about the repair and service element.  This has been a classic area that has let down the non “Prestige Brand” Rugged PDA’s, especially from Korea, USA and China but this is no longer any issue any more.

What I’m going to do is share our experience of selling a prestige brand against 1 or 2 of the cheaper brands and lay out the facts for you to decide and I’ll do this by looking at a few typical scenarios that you will experience after buying a Rugged Handheld.  We’ll take the leading brand (leading brands are always there to be shot down in my view!) and 2 of the cheaper brands we sell very successfully here, Pidion and Dotel.

Comparing Warranty Services

Warranty level services cover a few eventualities.  All Rugged PDA’s come with at least 12 months warranty but it doesn;t cover you for much other than defects of the device.  If the device stops working and its a defect of say the touch screen then it will be covered under warranty.  Warranty repairs also covers devices that are out of warranty and require an ad hoc repair and a device that is in warranty but requires a repair that is not covered by the warranty itself, IE a cracked screen.  In every case you get treated the same.

Here’s a table showing ACTUAL average days turn around, average price for a cracked screen and reporting and communication level you get with some devices.

Turn Around LCD Cost Report Communication Parts G’tee
Motorola ES400 13 days £355 No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 0
Intermec CK3 10 days            £400+  On request Better, 1-2 day email 0
Motorola, MC55/65 12 days £365 No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 0
Pidion BM170 4 days £180 Full Direct, same day, possibly live 3 years
Pidion BIP-5000 4 days £190 Full Direct, same day, possibly live 5 Years
Dotel H300 4 days £170 Full Direct, same day, possibly live 3 Years

The parts G’tee is how many years parts for repairs will be g’teed for once the device goes end of life without a service contract.  Lastly I would mention that Motorola’s ES400 is by far the most troublesome PDA we sell with way more returns than anything else we sell.  Maybe it’s because its being mis-sold generally as a Rugged PDA or maybe it’s just poor but facts are facts.

Comparing Comprehensive Services

Comprehensive Services are the service packs you can buy to add accidental, wear and tear and better SLA’s to your service.  Again a table below with the same devices shows our experience of various brands comparable service plans to Service from the start Bronze.

Turn Around Report Communication Parts G’tee
Motorola ES400 5-7 days No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 5
Intermec CK3 5-7 days  On request Better, 1-2 day email 5
Motorola, MC55/65 5-7 days No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 5
Pidion BM170 1-3 days Full Direct, same day, live chat and telephone 5 years
Pidion BIP-5000 1-3 days Full Direct, same day, live chat and telephone 5 Years
Dotel H300 1-3 days Full Direct, same day, live chat and telephone 5 years

In this case we count the turn around time as the full-time it takes to send and get your device back.  In the case of Premium brands with central repair centres you have to either send to a different country or there is a step point to send to which adds time on to delivery.  PidionCare and Dotel response services even have repairs sent out same day in some cases and can offer a range of services for sending back such as pre-noon or pre- 9am.

Not as some would have you believe hey?

Other points

There are a lots of other points too, such as if an SLA is missed by Motorola or Intermec, Psion or anyone else for that matter it’s tough.  Read the small print, you get nothing.  With our Pidion and Dotel service and others we deliver, you get a penalty refund of some nature appropriate to the issue at hand.

Also some issues can be more complex than others.  With us you talk to your account manager and can talk technical directly with us.  Try that with the larger brands and see where you get!!

Conclusion

I think the days of the big cost cutting central/eastern european service centres are over.  The market we live in now requires more intimacy, more innovation and better access to a passion and expertise about kit that’s sold.  I think resellers should be held responsible for what they sell more and more and more customers are realising this.  Next time you buy a Rugged PDA, think about the service you will actually get opposed to what’s written on a spec sheet.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.