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Dell sets fixed price for repair of some notebooks

The PC maker will unveil on Monday a new service program, dubbed CompleteCare, that will repair or replace damaged notebooks for a one-time fee.

    Dell Computer is taking the servicing and replacing of faulty notebook computers--a major concern of businesses--to the next level.

    The PC maker will unveil on Monday a new service program, dubbed CompleteCare, that will repair or replace damaged notebooks for a one-time fee.

    CompleteCare is available at the time of purchase for $179 and covers the notebook for three years against accidental damage. Dell will not repair or replace notebooks destroyed intentionally. Also, stolen notebooks do not qualify.

    Dell hopes to overcome one of two main obstacles businesses cite for not buying notebooks: cost and fear of breakage.

    The price of laptops has come down to an acceptable level for many businesses, which benefit when employees take their notebooks and work at home, said Lindy Lesperance, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "This is essentially an insurance policy that covers that risk. It opens up a whole new market for [businesses] with the risk-aversion issue."

    The program will initially be available only to businesses buying Latitude and Inspiron notebooks. Latitude buyers must get CompleteCare as an upgrade to the three-year, next-day repair service, and Inspiron customers obtain the service program independently or in conjunction with the on-site agreement.

    "CompleteCare gives customers the assurance that virtually anything that happens to that device will be covered," said Gary Cotshott, vice president of services, Dell Public Americas International.

    But virtually anything isn't everything. Dell does not cover theft or fire. In the event of total notebook destruction, the user must produce some part of the computer to collect on the warranty.

    How much Dell notebook sales benefit from the program may depend on how many notebooks are reported damaged or destroyed. Lesperance speculated theft is more commonly the problem.