Guide to buying and fixing faulty electronics devices: LCD/Plasma TVs, laptops, desktops, computers, etc…
HEALTH & SAFETY WARNING: Please understand that by opening any electric power device, you are exposing yourself to many dangers, including lethal dose of electrocution that could trigger heart attack. Always heed all warnings on the products or items. Almost all electric powered electronic devices contain uninsulated DANGEROUS VOLTAGES within the product’s enclosure that may be of sufficient magnitude to constitute a high risk of electric shock to persons. Refer all servicing to experienced and qualified service personnel.
All electronic devices fail for a number of diverse causes that may or may not be related. It is not easy to find the root causes for each fault. For example, a fuse only blows when there is a component failure in the device. Fuses are used to shutdown the device when there is a serious problem. Replacing the fuse or any other component is sometimes easy, but finding out and understanding what made the component fail in the first place is a task for electronic technician or engineer with many years of experience.
Most consumer electronics devices, such computers, LCD and Plasma TV screens, for example, fail for a number of related and unrelated reasons, such as the backlights (tubes, lamps or bulbs) and/or failing components on inverter/video and power supply boards or cards. What if buyers rely on the seller ‘easy, cheap fix’ claim to buy and replace an item costing £100 and then discover that the fault is caused by other related or unrelated components or parts? The buyers cannot return the item and get refund an item that may have been damaged by other related and unrelated faults, failing parts or components.
When bidding for or buying a faulty or used TVs, for example, only pay £0.50 per inch screen size (that is £25 or so for 50") ONLY if you have immense know how, the skills, the spare parts, the time, the patience and the tools to fix them. Otherwise avoid the temptation to buy used or faulty devices, items or junk, particularly when no 'returns are accepted'.
In a recent case, a seller implied that a 50” Plasma TV lamp costing £100 will fix the dead screen no picture problem, described as ‘minor easy fix’. The ebay item was sold for £200 with £60 for pick up cost. As it turned out, the TV also needed a new light driver or ‘engine’ costing £250. After spending over £500, the lucky ebay bid winner ended up watching burnt out Plasma screen. In addition to that, the alleged local TV repairs person damaged other components in the process of trial and error to diagnose, analyse, isolate and trace the real problem. So, the total cost of fixing it was over £350 in addition to over £300 the lucky bid winner paid for the bargain on ebay auction.
In another case, a 42” dead LCD TV with a minor power supply easy fix sold for £170 plus £40 courier, turned out to be a faulty screen with multiple component failures, needing a new screen costing £350, other components and parts costing £100. The lucky ebay bid winner ended up paying over £660 for the bargain!
Most seller claim it is a minor or ‘easy to fix’ fault, costing almost next to nothing. That is often a misleading claim to get buyers to bid high to purchase unseen junk or lemons that they must pick up from many miles away.
For example, when any electronic devices are dead, there is no way the seller can guess the potential cost of fixing the fault on non-returnable items.
Fixing any faulty electronic devices or gadgets is often more complicated then most sellers or vendors knowingly, unknowingly or deceptively imply. Most parts are not readily available, even if buyers find the original source in China, Taiwan or Korea, or compatible substitutes or replacements from there or elsewhere.
Few sellers get local electronic ‘technicians’ to assess the fault, and the alleged technician often cause more damage to the device as they try to guesstimate repairs costs.
Also be aware of sellers who have suddenly lost or misplaced remote controls, power leads and other accessories needed to make the device function as designed.
In the final analysis, when buying faulty TVs and computers or electronic devices, always questions. Why would anyone write off any item that only requires easy, cheap fix or repairs? Avoid bidding for or buying the items until you are 110% satisfied with vendor’s answers. Always get vendors to obtain precise, specific written quotes for parts, labour and warranty needed to make the item fully functional as designed. As part of due diligence, always verify the quotes, or move on to the next vendor/seller who would get and verify the quotes. Ebay buyers must avoid buying faulty, unseen electronics devices and gadgets unless they have the skills and are sure they can find the parts and the time needed to fix them.
Moreover, remember that when considering DIY repairs to/on electronic devices, having the correct information, skills, experience and knowledge usually means the difference between success and failure. Disassembly and repairing or fixing electronic devices often results in additional damage to fragile components whenever the correct process is not followed. Not to mention the possibility of additional time being spent removing things that you do not need to be removed.
The author, spsyed, is a retired senior management executive responsible for a number of experienced and qualified electronic repairs technicians and engineers he has seen many ebay buyers misled by too many sharky sellers or vendors.