A growing number of independent shops allow the phone-addicted to drop off their ailing, broken or malfunctioning phones, eliminating the hassle and time of mailing them to service centers. In some cases, customers can wait while the work is done and be out the door with functioning phones without missing a tweet.
"A lot of people want their phones back the same day," said Miguel Jarquin, owner of Cell Phone Tech in Davie, Fla. Jarquin, a former AT&T business account executive who opened his business in January, can complete most jobs within 40 minutes.
UBreakiFix, an Orlando, Fla.-based small electronics repair company started in 2009 by two high school pals, now has 18 stores nationwide. The company hopes to expand to 30 by year's end. Co-owner Justin Wetherill said uBreakiFix fixes about 4,000 to 5,000 phones monthly, as well as iPods, video games and laptops.
Jarquin plans to open a second store in Miami in September called One Repair Stop, partnering with another business that refurbishes video game consoles and other gaming devices. "In some cases, a repair can save you hundreds of dollars" on the cost of a new item, he said.
The rise of while-you-wait repair shops shows how attached consumers have become to their phones, said Paul Eng, a senior Web editor at Consumer Reports who has covered electronics for 20 years. "You want to believe there is some place out there that can fix your baby," Eng said. "But sometimes, the truth is that it's a piece of electronics and it's gone. Buy another."
Consumer Reports, in its latest issue, suggests generally it's wiser to replace rather than repair if the fix costs more than half the price of a new product. That is particularly true with electronics, the report said, as prices have been dropping steadily in some categories.
Users with newer model expensive smart phones or many months left on their carrier contracts might opt for fixing, experts say. The choice also depends on the price of the repair, which can range widely. UBreakiFix charges around $10 for a software malfunction and up to $149 for a phone with a broken screen and water damage.
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