I have to share a tip I found out about this week that could save you upwards of $1500 on repair costs on those expensive dynamic display touch screen AAC devices that are used for communication...
"This is the service/repair department. We have your device ready to send back. Could you call us for details on your repair?"
I had been given a mal-functioning touch screen AAC device from a high school that needed repairs for the second time on a USB port. I was glad it was done and called the service department back to find out what was up.
"Hello Mr. Thornburg. We have replaced a main board in the device. It looked new other than being dirty - more than what we could just clean. I wanted to let you know that we found what looked like roach legs and fecal matter behind the screen. Sometimes if a device isn't working properly and gets stored away in a closet, garage or basement in a box, it becomes the "home" for insects."
I was getting a little grossed out I have to say... "You are kidding me, right?"
"No" he replied. "We see a lot of damage to devices because of bug issues." He went on to say, "We are replacing the board free this time and the USB port is working fine, but we are making a note of the bug issue and the free replacement. If it gets returned again and has the same issue, we will have to charge for the replacement of the board and labor which will run about $1600.00."
"Wow. I think this device is getting stored in a snap lid box from now on. Thanks for the free repair and the word of warning."
I called a different AAC device company's rep and asked if this was a common issue. I was cautioned that although it is not probably an issue for actively used devices, that folks store them away not thinking and the little vents and holes can become an inviting "hotel for insects".
"Be careful though about reporting that this is a common issue because it just can be another factor to cause folks looking at AAC devices to decide against them." the rep advised me. "A post about this could be helpful though just to help people be more aware and care for their devices."
So...there you have it. Who would have known? I guess our repeated repair had a literal bug in the system. I have visited the classroom where this device resides many times and it is a very clean room and a neat and tidy environment. I don't have any ideas about how this could have happened except that the OT that works with the student told me that the device doesn't go home with the student in the summer. "It gets locked up at school through the summer months." I was told. There could be our issue. If you have these type of devices stored away for the summer months you might want to re-think your storage strategies.
I will be advising all our AAC device owners to get a snap lid storage box to put the whole device, charger and case in when not in use. I don't want to see a $1600 dollar repair bill next time and maybe this advice will help you avoid a costly repair bill as well.
All the best to you!
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