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Fujitsu Offers Free Laptop Upgrades For Life 166

Barence writes "Fujitsu Siemens is offering its customers free laptop upgrades for life with its Lifebook4Life scheme. Customers buying a Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook will be offered a free upgrade three years after their original purchase, and every subsequent three years for the rest of their life — as long as they purchase an extended three-year warranty. Customers will have to hope inflation stays low, though: the value of each new notebook cannot exceed the value of the previous one, adjusted 10% for inflation. Fujitsu says the scheme is profitable, and a raft of small print ensures plenty of people will find they've excluded themselves from the scheme for all sorts of reasons."
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Fujitsu Offers Free Laptop Upgrades For Life

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  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:20AM (#25908139) Homepage

    "Free laptop upgrades for life"... sounds like "unlimited bandwidth" and "Plays4Sure".

    No thanks.

  • by rimcrazy ( 146022 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:25AM (#25908165)

    OK, so am I the only one surprised at this, and given their HUGE market share, who in their right mind would want one?

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:30AM (#25908191) Homepage
    This is designed to get money up front on the basis that most purchasers will be ineligible to benefit from it. Thus it takes money from the lazy and stupid which can be used to benefit smarter people. I have no problem with you^W them subsidising me^W us.
  • Re:The small print (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Laughing Pigeon ( 1166013 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:51AM (#25908265)
    As far as I can see it is not about software upgrades but about the upgrade of the entire machine after 3 years.
  • I have to agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a302b ( 585285 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:52AM (#25908275)
    From TFA:

    This offer is far from comprehensive, though, as it excludes case cracks, small numbers of dead pixels, broken keys, smashed screens, software issues, virus infections or failed batteries that are older than one year.

    Basically, the normal wear and tear of a laptop is excluded. This seems particularly negligent regarding failed batteries, as I've noticed that most laptops become almost unusable after a few years. Even with a RAM upgrade after 3 years, it is unlikely to last much longer than that, especially if broken keys and worn out batteries aren't included. (Are batteries even designed to last that long?

  • by Kent Recal ( 714863 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:58AM (#25908311)

    What stops me from running my notebook with third-party RAM for 3 years and swapping the original RAM back in only on the day that I return the lappy for "upgrade"?

    No, I think the real kicker is this:

    Customers will have to hope that the UK manages to avoid high levels of inflation, though; the value of each new notebook cannot exceed the value of the previous one, adjusted 10% for inflation.

    The "value"? You mean the price? Hmm. Who sets the price? Oh, right, Fujitsu Siemens. So I suspect 3 years down the road you'll be offered an upgrade laptop that is complete crap, but at the same they'll offer you to upgrade to something worthwhile for "a small additional fee".

  • by gapagos ( 1264716 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:11AM (#25908365)

    How many of us really need to buy a new laptop every 3 years?
    I had my macbook for 3 years, and I plan to use it for at least 3 more years, if not more.
    Granted, I upgraded the HD, but even I could have lived without that upgrade.

    I find it sad that we encourage a society of constant consumption and constant waste of perfectly good computer equipment.
    Ok, a 3-year old laptop may not be able to play Crysis in Extreme Graphics Quality, but most people do not use a laptop for those purposes, and most people who play games use a desktop anyway.

    Computers are extremely difficult to recycle, because they mix so many kind of parts (metal, plastic...) and can contain toxic elements. (such as batteries)

    I find it outrageous that still to this day we are trying to find new reasons for people to throw away their computers instead of actually encouraging them to KEEP THEM.

    And yes you can always donate your computer to charity. But I don't see anywhere in TFA that the company prepared any step to help its customers into doing that.

  • Re:Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:15AM (#25908383)

    Reading the fine print you will probably find out that they can change the price or cancel the plan whenever they want without notice. And of course what guarantee do you have that your "replacement" will be a competitive model?

    Fujitsu did state that they calculated that their plan would be profitable. That should have been the first clue right there.

  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by olivervaga ( 1332677 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:46AM (#25908541)
    If you'd read the summary more carefully, you'd understand that the upgrade is an actual new laptop, is in an upgrade from your old laptop.
  • Re:Free (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:03AM (#25908671)
    Fujitsu did state that they calculated that their plan would be profitable. That should have been the first clue right there.

    Newsflash - Selling computers is profitable. I this gets a few more sales that would have otherwise gone to HP or Dell, then profitable it may be. So what?
    Or is 'profit' a bad word nowadays?
  • Re:Free (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:56AM (#25909095) Homepage

    Fujitsu did state that they calculated that their plan would be profitable. That should have been the first clue right there.

    If companies do something that loses money, there's usually something even worse at work. Long story short, it's a loyalty program which pretty much ensures that if you buy this, your next laptop will also be a Fujitsu. Since it's a use it or lose it scheme you'd be a fool not to use if you got it, you can almost call it a guaranteed sale three years from now which they get paid today. If you look at it from the company's perspective, that's good even if the margins are the same as they get paid ahead of product, predictable delivery quantities and if they'd done it sooner they could have gotten people to commit money they wouldn't have spent three years down the line during a recession. All of that without any evil plans to scam people out of it through ineligibility.

    I really don't see how it's compelling to the customer though.
    1. It commits you to replacing in three years, even though you might not want to (use it until it breaks)
    2. It commits you to a Fujitsu, even if others have more compelling offers / feature sets
    3. It locks you to a price range, even though computers grow cheaper and your needs/income change

    Three years... if I think intervals that'd be like: high school - early student - grad student - just employed - regular worker, so over the last 12 years I'd say my needs and financial status have changed massively. If I take the scary option and add "unemployed" as the next one (though I don't fear for my job at the moment) then that's another 3+3 years (reemployed) with big changes. There'd better be a damn good reason for me to commit to anything three years from now.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:24PM (#25910851) Homepage

    But what else could you possibly get from a system that judges a company solely on its sales? Our economic system provides strong incentives to build products that break in as short a time as possible, and can't be repaired, so you must buy a new one. Complain all you like (and we all do), but unless you're doing something to reward a company for durability, you're not solving the problem.

    My parents had their old washing machine for ~25 years with minor repairs. When it was time to get a new one of course the old company didn't exist, the were probably long gone and dead because they had no resales. It doesn't really fit well into either personal compensation plans nor executive bonuses, since it's the guys 25 years ago that did the work which leads to the new sale. Most "extended warranty" plans today are scams at worst and an insurance against lemons at best, and doesn't really say anything about a product's real durability like whether it'll wear out in 5 or 25 years. Trying to charge me a bundle up front on an alledged durability is a snake oil salesman trick, by the time it breaks down the salesman and the CEO both will have cashed out their options and fled the scene. At best the company is still around to honor the warranty but it's still risky.

    If a company wants to claim durability, then show me a warranty plan that makes me think you really believe it. Provide long and cheap warranty, and instead of trying to charge some absurd upfront cost at once commit to extension options payable at end of regular support. Throw it a good sales pitch so people are thinking sale + warranty extension vs sale + next sale. Try to really show that by dollars/year this machine will cost them less that buying junk they'll have to throw out every few years. It's not really the consumer's ball on this one as long as the offerings are such as they are. Sell it in a way that makes me think you believe it yourself and I'll buy, not before.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson