If you do not have a reputable local company for laptop repairs, there are all kinds of places offering to fix it for cheap online. All you do is box it up, send it to them, they fix it and send it back to you. Sounds easy huh?

If you are going to “use” this type of service, be careful. Read their policies very carefully. There are a few key questions to ask before you send your laptop on a cross country trip:

1) How long will it take to get your laptop back? – It may depend on parts availability or other factors, but if it will take more than 2 weeks, I wouldn’t do it.

2) How much is return shipping? – Is it built into the repair price? Does it vary depending on distance? Is it a flat rate?

3) How much will it cost? – Do i get an estimate first? Is there a pre-approved limit? – This may be the most important consideration. See if you can find out how much it is BEFORE you send it. Be careful of a place that low-balls labor and gouge you on the parts.

4) Whats the warranty? – Who fixes it if it breaks again? Who pays for shipping if it breaks again? – Ask, ask, ask. The devils in the details.

There are no easy ways to research a distant company. You can start with their local BBB. If they have no unresolved complaints, that’s a start. Do a web search for their company name or phone number + complaints, see what you find.

No matter how much research you do, its a risky situation. Use all the information you can gather and make the best decision you can.