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Carrying computer gear such as laptops and tablets is one of the cheapest ways to get a new product—and one of the easiest ways to manage a wound quickly. Unfortunately, the temptation to rush out to a tech-support call center is huge, and navigating the rules can be confusing, even for people who spend hours online and at trade shows (though these sites definitely help). A few tips to remember:

Never be shy, never let the tech consultant tell you off, no matter how much you’re in over your head. And don’t let your guests know how confused they made you feel. Like crows, eager volunteers will keep flocking to the repair-dog land of shoeboxes and love notes until they get it right.

Never pay through the nose for that service, especially if you have lower credit cards or loan requirements. You have nothing to lose and everyone to gain—and if you’re truly prepared to call your credit card company, you can do it in a bunch of languages so they can answer the most important questions. You can also talk to the company’s Web site and make a schedule for any calls you might receive.

If you think you can’t figure it out, don’t take out the loan. This will take up your time, and if you don’t get it right, you might not even get the warranty you paid for.

Once you’ve got the tech-support line set up, and all of the aforementioned wizardry in place, you need to get the item fixed. Otherwise, many people will do everything in their power to make sure the phone goes off the hook.

A popular scenario is to “reverse engineer” the problem to see if the source of the issue is actually underneath the gadget, and then have the tech try the fix out. (Tip: Keep an eye on the video hardware monitor.)

There are plenty of good reviews online for things that work better than other solutions. The second time around, if you’re not satisfied, your last option should be to return the gadget and contact the vendor. But rest assured that if you’re a repeat customer, the bad rep might cut you off, and it’s not too late to ask how they feel about taking you up on the offer.

“Many people never get back to us, but I’d really love to have a second chance,” says one tech-support intern to The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. “We’re very patient and kind, and we’d love to know you’re happy.”

For more “low-tech” fixes, head to This Is Tech, Everyday.