CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


What to do when your hi-fi breaks

Your hi-fi or home theater conked out, who you gonna call? First try the retailer who sold it to you, failing that contact the manufacturer.

Your vacuum cleaner sucked out a woofer? Who to call? Steve Guttenberg

I get this one a lot, what should I do about my--fill-in-the-blank--broken headphones, buzzing speakers, static noises, intermittent sound, or when my subwoofer stops subbing?

Only rarely can I solve the problem with a quick fix; I always first advise contacting the dealer or Web site that sold you the product. Service is their responsibility and if they don't provide it, you shouldn't buy from them.

Of course, the best time to ask about service is before you buy any product. Will they replace a product if it fails within 90 days of purchase? Do they pay for return shipping? I'm talking about audio products here, but that advice works for any tech purchase.

Some of the better brick-and-mortar audio dealers provide loaners for their customers while their broken hi-fi is being serviced. That's a good reason not to solely base buying decisions on price. On-site-service can be a major expense for a retailer. If they offer it, they might not be able to offer the rock-bottom prices that dealers who forgo the niceties of customer service can offer.

If your retailer's left you high and dry, try contacting the product's manufacturer. It's likely to offer in-house service, which might be covered by the warranty, or failing that, the company can refer you to a factory-certified service center.

Do you have a service horror story? Share it here.

If you have had a great repair experience with a retailer or manufacturer, tell us all about it!