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Laptop Screen Repair and the High Cost…

Diary of a Laptop Screen Repair

Laptop Screen Repair Service Providers Vary

If you are one of the unfortunate people who have recently suffered from a dropped laptop, tablet, or smart phone you are not alone. Let’s discuss one of these topics – laptop screen repair. It’s shocking to find such a wide disparity on the quality of service offerings as well as the wide range of costs for laptop screen repair. There are many providing this service.  These include large international service providers (including the manufacturers themselves) as well as regional players to small one man shops on Craigslist.

TechArmor iPhone 8 Protective Screen

Amazon Has Best Offering Overall

Repair prices for laptop screen repair service range from the high end of over $600 dollars from manufacturers (parts and labor) to the lowest cost of $25 on Craigslist (labor only). The most economical and most reputable service I could find from a global company hands down was from Amazon via their rapidly expanding Home and Business Services Offering.  I’m a Dell Certified Systems Engineer (DCSE) and I could never quote or promise in advance to do a repair as cheap as Amazon. They are your best option if you need someone right away and you want someone you can trust to do the job ECONOMICALLY!


As far as the qualifications of the technicians doing the repairs, it varies. If you ship your item to the manufacturer (or their authorized representatives), you will be paying the highest cost to repair, but you’ll be getting it repaired correctly.

Laptop Screen Repair Prices Are Wide Ranging from $25 to $475 Normally

According to an article on ZDnet about ‘Accidental Damage and the Best and Worst Warranties), a Lenovo Laptop Screen Repair can be $450. Dell was directly quoted as $499 on one of their models I called about. Numerous customers have told me that Apple has quoted them Laptop Screen Repair prices ranges between $300-$475. Are these prices unreasonable?

Laptop Screen Repair
Laptops with broken screens waiting to be repaired

I have repaired thousands of computers in my lifetime. I usually don’t have time to document each and every cost associated with a laptop screen repair.

People Wants Answers

However, so many customers express such pain when they learned of the prices, I decided to do a line by line analysis with pictures to reveal what I discovered during a normal repair diagnosis which the $49.95 diagnostic fee covered.

Since it involved my time, my equipment, and I using my facility which costs me everyday to be there, I have to make sure that I am spending my time generating revenue to cover the bills or I won’t be there next year.

A Closer Look at Laptop Screen Repair Service Providers

Starting at the top, since we are going to pick a machine from our line up of actual machines that need to be repaired, let’s look at Dell.  It’s their machine. They can fix it.  When you go to their website, you won’t get much help if you plan to fix it yourself.  Recently, their has been a trend towards ‘non-field repairable manufacturing and service policies’ which I am totally against for the record.  However, Dell does provide options, when inquiring of screen repair help.  I was directed to Dell’s knowledge base.  This is a standard for anyone in any type of IT support industry.  A knowledge base to draw actual ‘knowledge’ from is essential.

Check Laptop Warranty BEFORE You Start Laptop Screen Repair

Nobody knows everything, so if you don’t know something about a product, a repair, or an I.T. related issue, the knowledge base is one of your most powerful resources. Most importantly – Don’t overlook checking the current warranty status on any laptop BEFORE you start any repair.  Look it up directly from the manufacturer’s warranty status search page or tool.  If it’s still covered, then you’re in luck.

TechArmor iPhone 8 Protective Screen

The manufacturer may pay you directly (if you’re an I.T. service Provider), or they may ask you to forward the machine to them for repair.  This is important because you do NOT want to void the customers warranty if you are a repair technician.

Certified Technicians Are Better When Looking For A Laptop Screen Repair

There are a lot of people claiming to be I.T. service providers.  The industry standard as far as qualifications are concerned are actual training from the manufacturers and supporting their products.  Even better, is the industry standard, and manufacturer neutral CompTIA A+ I.T. Certified credential.  I hold the credential and have taught courses on this subject matter and helped a lot of people earn their A+ certification.  If you hire an actual CompTIA A+ certified technician, I can guarantee they will know how to correctly repair your laptop screen.

Get Help On Craigslist

Looking at Craigslist, I did a search for keywords ‘laptop screen repair’ in my area.

Here’s what I found:

craigslist search of laptop screen repair
A Recent Search for Laptop Screen Repair Service Provider on Craigslist

There were 10 providers found when I did a keyboard search in the Washington, DC area.  You can see a screen-shot of what I found here.

Next, I did a search for CompTIA A+ technicians. Results?  I found a total of three!  And 2 of those are suspect.  I’d have to see the technicians I.D. card before granting him the respect our credentials deserve.

I’m Suspicious

So why am I suspect?  Simple.  It’s not that easy to earn. There are two tests you have to pass to earn the credential, one mainly on hardware systems, and one mainly on software.  Also, the costs are expensive.

Use Certified Technicians

A student going after this credential can expect to pay over $300 for the two exams and that’s if you pass the first time on each exam.  Many students have to go back and take the exam several times!  So you can see, that if you earn the credential, you are proud of it.  You are eager to show it to customers, clients, and employers.

Webex

CompTIA Controls Their Logo

CompTIA also has strict rules about how they allow their credential to be used, and displayed.  In fact, in order to have this credential renewed, they want to see how you have been using the credential during your certification period. (HINT:  Now you know why I write blogs).  It is not enough to simply earn the credential and go sit on your hands.  CompTIA wants you to SHARE. Share what you’ve learned, and you will see great rewards.

DIARY OF A LAPTOP SCREEN REPAIR

Diary of a Laptop Screen Repair
Diary of a Laptop Screen Repair

I chose a Dell 14Z N411Z laptop as seen here.  It’s a pretty nice machine so I can see why the owner would want it repaired.  This was a retail purchase at Wal-Mart, limited edition (Shakira Edition), and has some nifty features such as HD, and a 4GB memory module plus all the ports (USB, Ethernet, video, etc.) are hidden. Nice.

Are you wondering how I knew where it was purchased, and what channel it was sold and that it was a Shakira machine?

Use Service Tag To Lookup Laptop History

Don’t believe me? I used the support tag on the back of the machine and looked up the machine’s history at the manufacturer’s website, which in this case was Dell. As you can see if you check the link, we can learn a lot from looking up the information on the manufacturer’s website.

By the way – who knew Shakira was into branded laptops?  I didn’t.  Might have been a smart move to drive back-to-school sales among the millions of teenagers out there.

Where’s The Damage

laptop damage
Laptop Damage From Being Dropped

As you can see from the photo, this laptop was dropped from at least 3-4 feet and suffered a pretty severe blow on the corner.  Given the laptop’s weight which played a factor in the velocity of the fall, the damage was enough to actually bend the metal laptop outside cover.

Going into this repair, I’m seeing that LCD is cracked, the LCD assembly is damaged with the top cover getting the most damage as well as the top keyboard assembly also showing damage by the separation of the top from the bottom base.

Watch Out For Motherboard Damage

I’m hoping there will be no motherboard damage, but we won’t know the extent of the damage until we get inside.  We’ll have to break the machine down completely and inspect ALL parts for visual signs of damage.  We did receive a deposit ($49.95) for the diagnostic charge which is created towards the total repair bill if they decide to proceed, or if they elect to scrap the project, at least we haven’t wasted our time giving a free estimate in hopes of doing a repair that may never happen.

Total Cost of Damaged Parts

parts needing repalcement from laptop screen repair
Damaged Parts from Laptop Screen Repair

After getting inside this machine, which was not a simple 5 minute task as some would have you believe on Craigslist, we identified ALL the damaged parts as seen in this photo.

At the bottom of this photo you can see the SD card reader which appeared undamaged from the initial external inspection, but after going in, we see that the internal spring (as pictured) was damaged.  I would have missed this had I been quick or too eager to give a price quote.  Remember, the goal is to provide outstanding service to a manufacturer’s standards.

Missing damaged parts, or giving a price, then having to call the client back to tell them that it will be more money that you original quoted leads to ‘ill will’ and a chance for the customer to think that you are not being honest.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Ideally, when I’ve had the chance to repair a machine directly in front of the customer, I’ve never had them say that what I charge is too much.

Show your love of The Times. Shop Now!

While this article is being written for everyone (clients & technicians included), my most important focus is making sure the next generation of I.T. technicians can learn from ‘real world’ experience. Experience is the number one thing that all employers want to see when considering a candidate for employment.  If you’re going to be in the business of ‘helping people’, which is exactly what the I.T. service industry is all about, then remember to be honest, straight forward, and a ‘good listener’.

Fix Damaged Laptop or Buy A New Laptop Options

If you hear people during the early part of the conversation when you first look at the machine say they are short on funds, or they are having cash flow problems – do  yourself a favor and them as well.  Ask them how much is their budget?  Ask, “…if they have considered buying another machine versus the cost of repair?”.


I’ve had some people offer to sell me their machine right away, and pay me to destroy the data on the hard drive while they wait.  Good option for some.  I’ve had others offer to pay me to remove the old hard drive, and transfer the data to a new machine. While they were running to the store or ordering a new laptop from Amazon, some have asked me to make a backup of the data (documents, pictures, music, emails, home screen settings, website favorites and bookmarks, etc.) to a USB or thumb drive.  When the new machine came, I simply transferred the data and settings to the new machine. Result?  Happy client.

Hidden Costs – Hidden Damaged Parts

Parts needed for laptop screen repair
Parts Needed for Laptop Screen Repair

Like I revealed in the photo above, there were hidden damaged parts that I would’ve missed if I was quick to give a quote. This would have led to later changing the price. Or potentially an angry customer, and an erosion of trust.

Let’s look at a detailed list of the parts and their costs:

These parts are: 1) Dell P/N# DAR05TH18D0 $4.99; 2) Dell P/N# 04DKPR $63.67; 3) Dell P/N# 00RRNN $8.50; 4) Dell P/N# 091M1W $45.98; and 5) Dell P/N# 0RDTMY $34.99 totaling $158.13.

I took a screen-shot of the total cost of all the parts. As you can see, it’s expensive. So the $400 quote from Dell to repair this machine was not out of line and definitely realistic.

Parts Are Expensive

Do you see that the parts alone are $158.13 with shipping included.  This was after a total breakdown, and closeup examination of all parts VISUALLY.  I still have the task of putting it all back together. Every single function will need to be tested to ensure that this machine works.

Broken Card Reader
Broken Card Reader

This blog post isn’t to tech you step by step how to fix your screen. I do that in another website.  This is to just take a close look at the true costs, not the ‘bait and switch’ or ‘low ball’ quotes.

Getting Parts From Amazon or eBay Is Easy

Let’s start with the SD card reader.   It’s definitely broke.  Because of that, the end user might result in a loss of data from reading the SD card.  All it takes is just one short to fry the card.  Would that be a good outcome for an end user to lose their wedding photos, or the photos from their kids graduation, etc? Absolutely not! This part costs $4.99 on eBayAmazon also has the part too.

Amazon Is Convenient

So, clearly this part MUST be replaced.  In selecting parts, I prefer Amazon as my source for many reasons.  First, convenience.  I can select all my parts on Amazon and have them arrive in one shipment.  This is convenient. When all the parts arrive, I can go right into completing the repair, make sure the customer is happy and get paid.  If I order the parts from eBay, or a multitude of sources, then I have to wait for each component to arrive.  This leads to a delay in the total repair time.

Cracked LCD Screen
Cracked LCD Screen

Replacing the Cracked LCD Screen

Next on our damaged part list is the Dell Inspiron 14Z N411Z 14.0″ LED LCD Screen which can be found on eBay and it can also be found on Amazon.  As you can see from the photo, the LCD screen is definitely cracked.

Even though the photo doesn’t show it that well, the screen is completely cracked.  You can see from the photo the slight bend inwards where the ‘Inspiron’ brand is located. It clearly leans inward towards the end user.

Is There A Digitizer

Since this is not a touchscreen laptop, we only need to replace the LCD Screen and not a digitizer.  The digitizer would also need to be replaced if there was one present. There would also be a cost for the part (if touch screen), plus the cost of labor to replace it.  There’s also the cost to test it (additional labor – time).

Webex

Fortunately, there is no digitizer and no touch screen. If there were, the cost would be a little higher.

Replacing The LCD Bezel

Damaged Bezel
Damaged Bezel

Another part we will need is the LCD Bezel.  Initially, I thought we would be able to use the one we have even though it only has the slight bend  as noted in the picture above.

However, upon closer inspection after taking the machine apart, I saw that there is a tab that is broken.  There are a number of tabs on the back side of the bezel that hold it to the actual LCD screen. Without the tabs, the bezel may lift out or bulge.

This could cause the customer to lose confidence in the quality of the repair and question if it was done correctly at all.

The bezel needs to be replaced  The LCD Bezel part can be purchased from eBay here.  Alternatively, it can also be purchased from Amazon here.

Replacing the LCD Back Cover

LCD Back Cover Lid
LCD Back Cover Lid

Continuing on our examination of parts needed for this repair, we can see that the LCD Back Cover Lid Top needs to be replaced.  Amazon has this part for sale and so does eBay.

Now here is a chance to save the customer some money, potentially.  I say potentially because the cover is bent.  However, since it is metal there is a possibility that we can bend it back into place.

If we can, without disfiguring the cover, then we can avoid buying this.  Most likely, we can but it should still be configured as a parts replacement cost until otherwise demonstrated.

We would still have the labor costs on trying to repair this cover.  We’d have to use something to protect the cover from pliers, or vise grips used to try to bend it back.

Replacing the Laptop Base (Optional)

Laptop Base Damage
Laptop Base Damage

I did not include the cost of the base since the damage to the base is minimal and the damage can be repaired with glue.  There is an internal female mounting receptacle that the top of the keyboard assembly mounts to.

By using crazy glue or gorilla glue, it is possible to glue the female tab back onto the base and let cure.  Once the tab and the glue cures, it should hard enough and almost like it was. The part needs 24 hours to cure.

Reusing Parts Is Possible But Be Cautious

The tab may break again after the repair is completed. If that is the case, then it has to be re-glued, or the OEM Laptop Base Cover must be ordered.

Avoid this by making a note of the screw hole and marking it on the outside with a piece of tape or some other removable marker.  Special care must be taken not to overly tighten the screen and break or rupture the tab.

A Look At Labor Costs

As I mentioned earlier, the cost of labor is questionable for a multi-part and multi-tasked repair.  There are more tasks involved with this repair than simply replacing an LCD.  For the life of me, I don’t know how people who advertise on Craigslist and other sources that they will do this repair for $20-40 bucks.  They may be able to. I’m not knocking low prices.  Everyone’s all about saving money.

Webex

Good repairs are usually not cheap. Cheap repairs are often not good.  Amazon’s price when I last checked was about $93 for the labor only.  I’m certified and this is a fair price for just the LCD repair.  I would honor Amazon’s  price if they asked me to do this repair because I could get it done in an hour or so.

Where Do We Go From Here

I’ll now call the client and tell the that the labor will be between $90 – $125 dollars, and the parts will be $158.13 or $283.13 plus tax. They’ve already paid a diagnostic deposit of $49.95.   That leaves a balance due of $233.13 plus tax.  This repair takes less than a week.

Customer’s Choice

Like I mentioned earlier, the customer has a choice.  They can choose to authorize this laptop’s repair ($233.13 remaining due), or spend this on purchasing a brand new machine.  It’s their choice. Repair or Buy New.


One thing is clear.  We have looked at the true cost of Repairing A Laptop Screen.  We know the cost of parts and labor.  Now we know what the true cost of Laptop Screen Repair is.


I truly hope this helps someone better a more informed decision.

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