Should You Repair or Replace Your Business Phone System

Repair or Replace

When your business telephone system goes down, you’re often given a choice to either repair or replace your current system.  When is it okay just to repair your current system, and when would it be better to replace it with a new system?

Before we answer the “Repair or Replace” question, let’s back up a moment and discuss the planning of your communication systems life-cycle.  Like all of the equipment in your office, your business phone system only has a certain amount of life in it.  Your phone system runs 24 hours/day, 7 days a week for years.  The control unit gets surges from the electrical line, and from the phone lines.  Phones take a beating every day.  Phone systems do wear out.

For years I’ve heard the typical life-cycle of a business phone system is 7 years.  Perhaps that is the amount of time that manufacturers design there systems to last, but I’ve seen businesses keep their phone systems for 10, 15 and even 20 years.  But, eventually they will wear out.  There will come a time when you can no longer find (decent) parts.  It is best to plan your upgrade to a new phone system before it dies.  You’ll have much more opportunity to get quotes from multiple vendors and choose the system/vendor that will best meet your needs.

If your phone system dies sooner than expected, or if you’ve procrastinated, what should you do when your phone system takes an unexpected dirt nap?  Have it fixed, or replace it?  Here are three things to consider:

  1. 1)Is your phone system more than 10 years old?  If so, replaceMost likely the unit is no longer in production and you can only find used parts.  You have no idea where those used parts came from, or how long they’ll last.  If a phone system is only 5 years old, you can probably find decent parts and repair is a reasonable option to consider.
  2. 2)Is the manufacturer of your phone system still in business?  If they have gone out of business, then you many want to consider replacement overWhile you may be able to find the part to repair your system, you may need to upgrade/replace another part of the system in a few months.  If you can’t find a part a few months from now, you’ve wasted money that could have been put towards a new system.
  3. 3)Is there a local vendor who supports your current system?  With the bad economy, many local interconnects went out ofIf you cannot find someone who has experience servicing the equipment you own, you really need to consider replacing the system.  Phone systems have become very complex over the years, and they’re all different.  A reputable interconnect will not want to work on equipment that they’re not familiar with.

Even if you know it is best to replace your current system, you may not be willing to spend money and will want to fix your current system.  Don’t be surprised if your local vendor refuses to do that for you.  As a vendor/interconnect, we have to know when to walk away from a system because it is not only best for the customer, but because it can end up costing us money, instead of making us money.

Consider this…When we have a customer with a downed phone system that is 10 years old, we may be able to find a part for the system to get it back up and running.  But, we have no idea about the history of the system.  Has it been repaired from lightning?  Does it have a quirk that won’t be discovered for a few days?  Are there leaking capacitors that will cause the system to fail in 2 weeks?  If so, then we have to eat the cost of the replacement system, and the time it takes to install and program the system.

Now, what if this is a system that the customer bought from an out-of-business competitor?  That means, we have no programming records.  We have to guess at what needs to be programmed.  That usually means that we have to make a return trip, or even multiple return trips to get the system programmed correctly.  Is it our fought that we didn’t know how the previous vendor setup the system?  No.  Is it the customers fought?  No.  So, who should pay for those return trips?  It should be the customer, but often they don’t feel that way.  They feel that we (the vendor) didn’t do our job properly and don’t want to pay for return trips.  So, we’re left with the choice of losing money/time or having an unhappy customer.

It’s always best to plan a system replacement in advance.  But, if you’re caught having to make a choice between repair or replacement for your phone system, be sure to think the process through, and not just look at the bottom line. 

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