25 Aug Schools Can Save Big Money By Tracking Chromebook Breakage Rates
A high rate of broken Chromebooks may be a sign of a manufacturer defect, making it essential for school districts to report hardware problems.
Investing in expensive electronics is risky business in an era when manufacturers exploit every loophole to avoid paying for poorly designed products. Everywhere online, bitter consumers share horror stories about manufacturers who accuse them of mishandling products even when the damage is a known defect or explicity covered by the warranty. Who wouldn’t feel powerless when facing customer service reps who are skillfully trained to convince consumers they are at fault?
Fortunately, bulk purchasers wield incredible power. Manufacturers are more capable of hearing complaints when consumers speak with their wallets, and the threat of losing a massive sale can instantly inspire a burst of corporate accountability.
Dell Steps Up to Cover Defective Chromebooks
Administrators from Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 in Illinois discovered this after the technology staff noticed high failure rates in Dell Chromebook 3120 devices. Broken logic boards accounted for 25 percent of the technical problems, which convinced instructional technology director Mary Jane Warden that student handling wasn’t the cause. According to Warden, technology staff had to repair 54 percent of the district’s 2,782 devices. The district shelled out $103,000 in repair costs, while parents are only charged a $30 maintenance fee.
A 54 percent breakage rate certainly isn’t typical for school districts, especially when administrators invest in Chromebook cases and educate students on safe handling. That’s why it’s important for school districts to compile their own data about breakage trends. Chromebooks are still young devices, so administrators can’t rely on past performance to predict how the computers will hold up over time.
Some districts have absorbed the cost of irreparable devices. Park Ridge-Niles found a better option: administrators reported the breakage findings to Dell, and the company agreed to replace the entire fleet of first-generation Chromebooks with second-generation models.
What the District Did Right
Park Ridge-Niles offers a perfect example of how tech administrators can save district funds with simple analytics. Using the district help desk as an asset-management tool, Warden gained accurate data about three crucial factors:
- The type and frequency of damage
- The handling/incidents preceding damage
- The most damage-prone Chromebook parts
- The projected life span of Chromebooks, based on damage rates
Mistakes All Districts Should Avoid
Many districts have reported low Chromebook breakage rates, while others find maintenance and repair so easy that they use in-house teams for low cost and fast turnaround. Districts still struggling with steep prices should think twice about making these mistakes before moving into the next phase of a one-to-one Chromebook program.
- Purchasing non-ruggedized models for take-home programs
- Choosing not to buy Chromebook cases or making cases optional
- Purchasing Chromebooks outright without insurance coverage or in-house repair teams
- Making assumptions or estimates about breakage rates without gathering concrete data
- Absorbing the cost of all repairs without attempting to negotiate with manufacturers
Even if high rates are from wear and tear, such as opening and closing Chromebook lids, excessive breakage isn’t acceptable. Manufacturers have strong incentive to quickly take care of flawed devices, especially when adminstrators can provide proof that hardware problems are caused by defects or poor craftsmanship, not simply the result of bad handling. With so many options available for Chromebooks alone, school districts can move on to another vendor if one falls shorts.
Dell Chromebook 11 | Acer C720 / C740 | Asus C200 | Lenovo Chromebook | HP Chromebook | MacBook Air | MacBook Pro