Repairs and Servicing
Eventually most equipment will fail to some extent, some in a blaze of glory; others simply stop doing whatever they’re meant to do. The later is the most common. In fact most electronic equipment doesn’t go up in smoke! There is an old saying the electronics parts on the circuit board all contain smoke, when the smoke gets out, then the unit stops working. If it was only that simple!
Electronic equipment can be extremely complex hence difficult to repair. Some products these days are considered unrepairable and are simply thrown out and replaced. This is especially true for computer products and some cheap audio and video products as well. High-end audio products can often be repaired if parts are available, even for many years after they were built. How readily available the parts are depends on several things. Firstly on the manufacturer, parts that are specific to that unit can’t usually be found elsewhere, so you can only rely on them to have stock or to find the same or similar model that can be used to swap parts over. Second are more generic parts that can still be bought or replaced with identical off-the-shelf versions. Of course the technician doing the repair often knows about these tricks!
Many manufacturers don’t keep many parts on hand and rely on them coming from overseas when a unit comes in for repair. In some cases there are so many models (models these days seem to change every 6 months or so, especially for mainstream brands) that it would be near impossible to carry every parts for every model locally. How fast the part arrives depends on the overseas shipping and this can take some time. Orders are often aggregated, so they wait until there are enough parts to justify the shipment.
Usually it is best to take the device back to the importer or manufacturer for repair if it is out of warranty. The laws in Australia are very good for warranty repairs, in fact the law can effectively ensure the warranty covers the unit based in how long it should last, not on how long the company thinks it should last. So a $50- DVD player is not expected to last as long as a $2000- one but they both may have the same one year warranty. If the expensive one fails after two years, you may point this out to the manufacturer and the better ones will still cover the costs of repair. Another important point is that the shop that sold you the products is really responsible for any warranty so if they try and fob you off and don’t want to handle it, that is against the law. That said, it is likely still be faster and better to deal directly.
The cost of repairs is based to two things, the cost of parts and the time it takes to find the fault and fix it. Most parts tend not to be too expensive except things like lasers in CD / SACD or DVD players. Most of the cost in many cases is labour and it can take a long time to track down what is actually causing the fault. Changing the actual part may only take 10 minutes but hours can be spent finding that part. As mentioned before, they don’t often “blow-up”. Intermittent faults are even worse, they may only occur occasionally and as luck would have it, never on the workbench or never for a long period of time to enable enough time to track it down. Often technicians have to second guess what is causing the issues and then leave devices on test for long periods of time.
Make sure any repairs come with some sort of warranty; the general trend is three months on the fault. Of course if a laser is replaced and sometime later the output circuit fails, it is natural to assume it is under warranty but the two circuits are not related. Similar to a car, if you have a new muffler fitted and next week the radiator springs a leak, not the same thing! So keep that in mind if a different fault develops. The new parts are often covered by a longer warranty from the manufacture, often 12 months. Note of course if a unit is fixed under warranty, the warranty is not extended, rather it stays the same. This is important to keep in mind if the unit as a whole is replaced. As this is becoming more common with less expensive products, people think the warranty starts from new but that is generally not the case. It remains the same as the original unit.
If you are having trouble getting something repair, don’t get angry as that will often just cause the repairer to dig in their heels. Explain your concerns and understand that repairs are not as easy as many think. Often repairers have their hands tied by parts suppliers overseas; and the complexity of devices does not help. Special test equipment is often required and they are not cheap. Give them as much information as possible, a simple “it doesn’t work” is mostly useless. Try and explain what was happening beforehand, under what conditions does the fault appear? Also offer any suspect discs or tapes as these can actually be the cause of faults, not the unit itself. Finally, make sure you treat your gear with care, dirt and moisture are the enemy to electronics!