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Customer wants me to fit a backlight into their laptop LCD



I don’t turn away much repair work, but I turned down a job today. Here’s the story.

A customer phoned up and said his backlight had failed. He had ordered a new one and had started taking his laptop apart to replace it. But he soon got out of his depth, didn’t want to risk breaking the delicate backlight and wanted me to finish the job for him.

For those that haven’t seen one before, a backlight (or CCFL) is a tiny fluorescent tube, just a few millimeters thick, that runs the entire length of the LCD panel. It is usually runs along the bottom of the LCD panel and is completely encased inside the metal body of the LCD panel itself. When power is applied through the inverter, this tiny tube provides all the light required to illuminate the laptop LCD panel.

Depending on the type of laptop and LCD panel, replacing the backlight can be a difficult job. I have done it a number of times, but sometimes it can be really difficult to disassemble the LCD panel sufficiently to remove the old backlight. Even when this is done, the new one has to be carefully inserted into the tiny space inside the LCD panel, and this is often when the new CCFL tube will break. In a lot of ways, they are not really meant to be replaced. They can be, but they’re not meant to be.

So the scanario was, his laptop was in bits and he had got cold feet about taking apart the LCD panel, and wanted me to finish it for him.

I turned this job down for the following reasons;

1 – The original LCD problem was self-diagnosed by the customer. While I have no doubt that the customer based their diagnosis of a failed backlight on reputable sources, what happens if I fit the backlight and it doesn’t solve the problem? What happens if it was actually a faulty inverter, or the LCD panel itself or the graphics data cable? Will they blame me for doing it wrong?

2 – Assuming that the LCD problem was in fact a faulty backlight, I am relying on the customer to have bought the correct replacement backlight, and that they ordered it from a reputable dealer. What happens if they ordered the wrong part? What happens if the part they ordered is faulty? Will the dealer replace it?

3 – Backlight replacements can be tricky, as I’ve described. So what happens if, despite my best efforts, I accidentally break the new backlight that the customer ordered? I will have to order another one, at my expense.

4 – The customer has already started taking the laptop apart. This is fairly low risk, but if they are inexperienced, there is a possibility that they have damaged something else in the process of disassembly. What happens if, for example, they have damaged the data cable that runs from the motherboard to the LCD panel?

5 – Price – The customer is expecting me to ‘finish the job’. They think they have done all the hard work, diagnosing the problem, sourcing the replacement parts and starting the disassembly. So all I have to do is ‘just replace the backlight and put the screws back in’. In other words, they are not expecting to have to pay very much to finish their repair.

For all these reasons, I decided it was not worth my while even going near this repair. There is just far too much risk involved, especially for the amount of money the customer is expecting to pay. All the risk is on me.

Now if I had diagnosed the problem myself, got the customer to agree a repair price in advance and sourced the parts myself, then that would be a different story. I would have no problem doing this repair for the customer. The risks are reduced to an acceptable level and I know it will be worth my while.

Sometimes you have to know when it is wiser to turn down jobs, rather than get caught out with a potential problem.




 

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2 Comments:

  1. Hi all,

    In the twelve years we`ve been repairing laptops, the back light has never been the issue. It has always been the inverter. I once tried disassembling a lcd screen to see how to replace the bulb – I fully agree! (sometimes it can be really difficult to disassemble the LCD panel sufficiently to remove the old backlight. Even when this is done, the new one has to be carefully inserted into the tiny space inside the LCD panel, and this is often when the new CCFL tube will break. In a lot of ways, they are not really meant to be replaced. They can be, but they’re not meant to be!)

    Interesting website, liked the `bake hp motherboard in the oven` part – it does work! Clean the chip with Articclean thermal material remover and add a copper square & artic silver 5 paste. Lasted for over a year and still going!

    Regards,

    Mike

  2. Very good points. On top of that, it is much easier to reassemble if you disassembled it yourself. Too much headache for the job, I agree.

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