I copy here an entire article from the excellent Market Ticker site because it is a general problem, lurking in all recent electronic products.

As typically these days, manufacturers let faulty products out, knowing they will blow up and they will make money out of it, instead of replacing the faulty capacitors, which would harm their profits.  This goes back as far as to 2003 !

This problem can obviously have great consequences for companies who rely on their computers … ie almost all of them !The story referenced here is company-specific (DELL) but the problem is not, so I refuse to ascribe this simply to DELL….. even though that would be convenient.  (see Capacitor Plague on Wikipedia)

Documents recently unsealed in a three-year-old lawsuit against Dell show that the company’s employees were actually aware that the computers were likely to break. Still, the employees tried to play down the problem to customers and allowed customers to rely on trouble-prone machines, putting their businesses at risk. Even the firm defending Dell in the lawsuit was affected when Dell balked at fixing 1,000 suspect computers, according to e-mail messages revealed in the dispute.

….

The problems affecting the Dell computers stemmed from an industrywide encounter with bad capacitors produced by Asian PC component suppliers. Capacitors are found on computer motherboards, playing a crucial role in the flow of current across the hardware. They are not meant to pop and leak fluid, but that is exactly what was happening earlier this decade, causing computers made by Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and others to break.

Actually, capacitors are found in every piece of electronic equipment.  They are necessary components in the power supply section of every item that contains some form of electronics, from TVs to video monitors to microwave ovens to radios, cell phones, computers and modern clock-radios.

The problem is not gone either.  Here’s a “wall wart” for a device that just failed on me.  The device is fine.  The power supply?  Not.

Those two capacitors in the corner haven’t exploded – yet – but they’ve got bulged tops.  They went out-of-tolerance enough to cause the power supply to self-destruct.

This is a power supply for a simple consumer product – a “wall wart” that you probably have a few of around your home.

These failures can cause fires, although that’s not common.

But in every case they result in a non-functional device, and virtually all of the devices with these defective capacitors in them will fail.

These manufacturers are producing and have been selling known defective products.  Hundreds of manufacturers.  Thousands of distinct products. Were they to recall and replace them all, virtually every major electronics manufacturer and computer maker would be bankrupted immediately.

Therefore, you the consumer get screwed.  You are led to believe that your DVD player, TV, radio, cell phone or other consumer electronics device, when it fails out of warranty, is “just old.”

It is not “just old.”

It was produced with defective components and the companies that did so and sold it to you are well aware of it at this point.

They’re also well-aware that recalling and replacing all those defective units means they’re out of business, so instead of doing the right thing, you, the consumer, get screwed.

I wrote about this in context of a coupe of computer monitors a few months ago.  Among other items, I’ve had two video cards, two video monitors, and now this “wall wart” all fall victim to the same failure.  I know how to fix these things, but most people do not.

These are not accidents or “ordinary wear and tear” failures.

You are being screwed, America, by manufacturers who produced products with defective components that are necessary for both the function and safety of the devices you’re using.

These components will fail, your consumer electronics will stop working long before they should.

This is not about warranties.  These capacitors are not merchantable.  They are unfit for any purpose, as they are known to be defective and as such it is known that they will fail, destroying your device.

It is as if these products have a built-in time bomb ala “Mission Impossible“, that just happens to go off shortly after your warranty expires.

That may be a lovely way to try to force you to buy a new cell phone, a new DVD player, a new stereo, a new TV or a new microwave oven.

But when these components are known to be bad, the manufacturers of the products know they’re in the devices and they fail to recall them I believe there is a cogent argument that these latent and known defects constitute fraudulent conduct, as the manufacturers are not disclosing that these devices have an effective “automatic termination” device built into them and WILL fail at some point out of warranty far before their claimed “design life.”

Selling people known-defective products and hiding it is supposed to be against the law.  You’re taking money from people for something you know is a piece of junk but you’re representing it as a “good” product.

Again: Where are the cops?

  1. Sonicvoice says:

    I purchased a HP Pavilion a6235x nearly 3 years ago. about two monts ago it started having shudown/restart/bluescreen cycles with it and once that started it was an every day thing. It was a gift for my mom and it a room by itselft, no pets or animals in the house, so when the case was opened for cleaning after 2 1/2 years of perfect performance i wasn’t that surprised to find out that there wasnt’ any dust other than a small bit on the intake vents, but nothing that could ever cause any sort of heat issue.
    I had the power supply and ram checked by a local shop who’s emplyees i’m friends with and both RAM and PSU were 100% working condition. They were amazed at how clean the comp was inside after 2 1/2 yrs of use…. but it was hardly ever used so not really a huge surprise to myself. I was just ooking over the motherboard while they were testing the RAM and PSU and noticed that six of the capacitors had a rouded top which i know isn’t a good thing from my years of experience working with speaker crossovers and other electronic devices.
    Lastnight I did a little search on the internet and I thought it to be quite a coincidence that anyone who was having a similar issue with their same model HP computer started within the last 6 months or so *or after they had the machine for about 2 1/2 years… I did not buy the extended warrenty that i can recall but this problem to me goes far far beyond a the company’s rights of thier one year limited warrenty since the machine was basically, in my opinoin, desiged to fail.
    I called the HP support line (1-800-hp-invent) and after 1 full hour of being on hold and talking with the tech person I was to the understanding that *it’s a one year warrenty, we screwed you, now go by another hp computer*
    I was thinking of buying a new laptop and the HP ones are decent prices and look beautiful, but to quote a famous song “she ain’t pretty she just looks that way”. Knowing now that there were electronics made with knowingly faulty parts that, even if low, have a chance to explode and cause fires in the right conditions. This is not acceptable, and if this were a car company would be required to recall all possible fautly automobiles.
    I’m very frustrated now to think I paid all that money for a total piece of junk, the computer that my mother had gotten back in 1996 was still working, and with some minor upgades over the years of ram and a bigger hard drive, is working better than ever. This enough to say that anyone who thinks that 2 1/2 years is the normal design life of a modern day computer, with all of our new and imporved technology needs to get their head examined.
    Hope to hear some other comments here.

    • Welcome in the new world or generalized scamming, and customer support simply being a there to turn people away or discourage them.

      You should learn how to solder a capacitor, it is really not that hard, do it, and post it on the web to keep exposing this scam.
      On a side note, why buy a new computer, and why use microsoft ??? You in love with blue screens and slow machines ? (kiddin)

  2. Sonicvoice says:

    LOL in love with microsoft HAH, nah like i said it was a gift for my mom and she’s familiar with the Window$ platform so thats pretty much why.
    I’ve done some soldering over the years, but the circuts are so small on Motherboards that i don’t know if i’d feel comforable taking on a task like that.
    Oddly enough the machine is fairly stable now, i removed two 512mb sticks of ram and left two 1gb sticks on the board *4 slots* and it seems to work ok, but i think this is just because the power consumption is lower, i tried with just the two 512mb sticks of ram in *total of 1gb* and it works fine as well… slower than 2gb understandable but still works.

  3. Billy Bob says:

    This is what happens when manufacturers are blinded by money. It’s understandable that they want to make a buck… they are businesses. But they had no trouble making money back in the days when they used good components (ie: high ESR capacitors that are actually rated for what the manufacturer used them for), so why suddenly go cheap and then be dis-honest about it?