Gamer Discovers Dead Bug In Monitor, Goes Through Hell To Get It Fixed

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Gamer Discovers Dead Bug In Monitor, Goes Through Hell To Get It Fixed
Image: Supplied

Picture this. You’re looking forward to your favourite release of the year, a new DOOM. And you’ve got a fancy $1000 monitor to play it on. There’s just one small problem. One day, you wake up and discover a bug has somehow carked it in your screen. No problem: the monitor’s well under warranty. So everything should be OK, right?

That’s what happened to long time Australian gamer Narull. Just before Christmas, he forked out the money for a very nice 1440p IPS screen, the 165Hz ASUS ROG Swift PG279QE. It’s a good gaming screen and one that you think would be perfect for games like DOOM Eternal, with all their colour and blood.

Narull didn’t even have the option of blaming himself and wallowing in self-pity, like Kirk did. Like most people, he asked the simple question: how the hell did the bug get inside his monitor to begin with?

“It’s my most anticipated game of the year and I’m just … I know it’s corny but it hurts,” Narull wrote.

But all was still looking well at this point. The monitor was not only within warranty under Australian consumer law, but ASUS’s limited 12 month warranty. Parts weren’t required, because all a competent repairer needs to do is pull the screen apart and clean the gunk from the protective layer that sits between the LCD panel and the screen. There’s plenty of legitimate precedent for it being free, too. LCD screens are a bright light source, and naturally small insects and moths are going to gravitate towards them. It’s the manufacturer’s job to make sure they can’t get inside.

One day later, Narull shipped the monitor back to ASUS’s repair centre. As is customary for a lot of PC parts, the original manufacturer is the one who deals with repairs, not the retailer (Computer Alliance in this case).

Things were looking up. Sort of. A ticket on the official ASUS support page replied: they’d deal with the issue, but not immediately. Narull would get his PG279QE screen back on March 25, two days after DOOM Eternal‘s official launch. Not ideal, but at least someone was putting the poor bug where they belonged.

Or so Narull thought.

On March 21, a couple of days before the monitor was due to be shipped back, Narull received this reply:

There was no explanation of the problem: for whatever reason, ASUS needed more parts, and as a result the repair would be delayed. On the same day, the timeframe for a repair was removed entirely from the status page. But still there was hope: on March 25, the original delivery date, an ASUS support staffer sent back a glimmer of hope.

“Based on the escalation response that we have received, the parts are ready and the unit will be repaired by the end of the week,” the email read. “In this case, you should be able to have your device by week 31/03/2020.”

But a lot can change in 24 hours. On Thursday morning, Narull received a response from a different ASUS support member. “After inspecting the LCD, we are determined the LCD have insect inside the panel unfortunately insect damage is not covered under the manufactory warranty,” an email from ASUS read, directing Narull to ASUS’s policy for Australia and New Zealand where “contamination with hazardous substances, diseases, vermin or radiation” is not covered under warranty.

The cost to get the monitor “repaired”?

$572. More than half of what the monitor actually costs at retail.

Naturally, Narull was perplexed. ASUS initially accepted the support request and said they’d send the monitor back within a week, only to say new parts were needed. Then to turn around and say the monitor couldn’t be “repaired” at all, even though the monitor doesn’t need an actual repair. It just needs the bug cleaned out of the panel (and maybe some questions answered as to how the bloody thing could get inside to begin with).

There’s a strong argument to be made that the ACCC and Australian consumer law wouldn’t be impressed. Here’s the note from ASUS’s site about Australian guarantees:

ASUS products come with guarantees that cannot be excluded under the Australian Consumer Law. You are entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the products repaired or replaced if the goods fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure.

It’s not a huge stretch to say monitors should be built in a way that doesn’t allow bugs or insects to crawl inside the panel. LCD/LED screens are giant sources of light. Of course they’re going to attract moths, mosquitoes, tiny flies and whatever else comes in from outside the window. One would assume they’d be built to keep critters at bay, even with modern monitors having more aggressive cooling mechanisms.

According to emails and correspondence shared to Kotaku Australia, the ASUS Service team confirmed the monitor would be covered under warranty when the original ticket was supplied. But that information apparently wasn’t saved in ASUS’s support system, with a follow up reply from an ASUS support staffer saying their call centre had no records at all regarding warranty.

“If you are seeking a remedy (such as replacement) the correct respondent is the place of purchase as we only provide repair services,” the ASUS staffer replied.

“It makes me wonder what they lodged [the issue] as,” Narull told Kotaku Australia. “When I first called and they ask the issue I said ‘there is an insect inside the panel’ but clearly the service centre did not know that, so what did they lodge the issue as?”

Obviously, no one would agree to pay almost $600 to have a monitor cleaned (not repaired). After rejecting the service charge, providing details about the first phone call and evidence of ASUS pledging delivery by March 25, and an email from ASUS themselves saying the monitor would be repaired and shipped the week of March 31, ASUS’s support agreed to escalate the problem.

It’s not the customer experience you’d expect after buying a $1000 monitor. Generally, most brands are pretty good about support on their premium products. You’ve already paid several hundred, or almost a grand in this case. Having a bug that can climb into the screen and die is obviously a suboptimal experience. I get why a company might try and reject it after a year – especially if the user is dumb enough to squish the bug themselves.

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By this stage, Narull had well and truly cracked the shits with ASUS support, so he tried his luck hitting up Computer Alliance. The retailer got in touch with their ASUS rep, and by late Thursday afternoon the insanity seemed to be coming to an end. ASUS told Computer Alliance they were “happy to offer free repair” in this instance, although that was communicated to Computer Alliance and not Narull directly.

ASUS eventually sent Narull a message Friday morning saying “we have received approval this morning to cover this repair in warranty”, but the email didn’t contain an apology for the runaround.

“I can’t believe how much this has destroyed my faith in a company I’ve recommended to people for years,” he said. “I always thought ASUS was a top of the line brand, but after this I will NEVER buy anything from ASUS again,” he wrote. “I want to deal with Computer Alliance; they have gone to bat for me, and I respect that.”

The story is a good lesson for all brands. Shit happens, but what truly matters is how you handle it. And the way ASUS dealt with the matter has lost the company a lifelong customer.

ASUS’s support system, in the meantime, is still saying the monitor was repaired and delivered on the original timeframe.

Image: Supplied

Kotaku Australia emailed ASUS’s local team for comment, asking for an explanation on how the customer service should have functioned, what steps they would take to improve logging of customer complaints in the future and their approach to dealing with small insects getting inside enclosed monitor units. I also asked what their official advice was to users who discovered bugs inside their monitor – if ASUS isn’t going to cover it, should users try and fix it themselves? Can they fix it themselves?

The company replied on Friday morning, saying they were reaching out for answers from their service team but were yet to hear back. Shortly before publication, the company followed up, saying “we’ve agreed to offer a free repair” and the repair should be completed by today.

“Based on our warranty policy, the insect damage is actually excluded from warranty coverage as it is not a product failure, but highly dependent on the storage and environment,” an ASUS representative told Kotaku Australia, linking to a passage from their limited warranty policy.

ASUS reaffirmed that contacting Computer Alliance for a replacement was “appropriate” because they believed Narull was asking for a replacement rather than a repair, although Narull’s initial phone call and emails with ASUS support indicated the monitor would be repaired by March 25.

“We believe different customers do have different expectations on our product and services, and ASUS will always try to minimise the gap within the scope of our service terms,” the ASUS representative said.

As for small insects, ASUS said monitors are “not a completely sealed device” and customers should be patient if they discover one. “When customers find an insect in their screen, we would suggest him or her to wait the insect to get out by itself while it’s still alive,” ASUS said. “However, if the insect has already dead in the screen, the customer should always contact our service team to arrange the repairing as soon as possible. Service fees may apply in this situation. Service fees may apply in this situation.”

As for Narull, he just wanted to play a bit of DOOM and escape from the misery in the world.

“This is such a stupid thing to stress about in the grand scheme of things, but it does matter to me,” he said. “They are being forced to fix it because I put up a fight … I’m very annoyed there is no apology for the screwing around, nothing at all.”

Comments

  • Looks like a German cockroach. It may well signal a further infestation, and there may actually be a nest inside the monitor.

    No manufacturers cover infestation. Nor should they.

    • I’m no more an entomologist than you are and it’s not a great photo but it looks much more like a small flying insect such as a gnat than a German cockroach, which don’t typically die with widely spread wings.

    • that’s a whole lot of speculation off one image, and if it was the case surely Asus would have said something along the lines of: “on further inspection we have determined the monitor is infested and requires more work not covered under the warranty” and could provide pictures.

      If my 70 year old motorcycle mechanic with no computer skills can do it, surely a company with Asus resources would be able ti do better.

      • I am actually drawing from some experience here. It’s more common than you’d imagine.

        Much like you can’t really blame the owner, it’s kind of a stretch to pin this down to a manufacturing fault, since the monitor clearly didn’t have a bug in the screen when it was built, and they can’t really be held responsible for some unlucky heinous shit.

        That’s almost exactly what they did say (copy pasted from the arrived below).

        “After inspecting the LCD, we are determined the LCD have insect inside the panel unfortunately insect damage is not covered under the manufactory warranty,” an email from ASUS read, directing Narull to ASUS’s policy for Australia and New Zealand where “contamination with hazardous substances, diseases, vermin or radiation” is not covered under warranty.”

        • What I wrote and what Asus wrote are not exactly the same though.
          The tipping point in whether Asus had a leg to stand on is where it was a single insect that they already knew about, or further damage to the screen they had not already agreed to repair.

          There’s no evidence of that in any of Asus’ language.

    • I’m on a disability pension and I save up to buy the things i really want. I imagine the same thing happened here. It makes it even worse when you can’t be compensated for issues with a product, as that was probably a long time saving.

      I forwent some non essential things for a couple months so I could get the spec ed of Doom Eternal.

      Those of us on low incomes can still have nice things…

      Just saying ^__^

    • I feel like this is judgement. People who are poor like nice things too, they just have to scrimp and save to get those things. I imagine this dude is pretty gutted because he saved for a treat and then this happens. Then the worst customer service ever..

      • Exactly, us poor folk just need to make compromises like no smoking or drinking for a while (only twats smoke these days anyway), or no social events (pretty easy now).

        I also will sell old parts and even scrape some extra money doing odd jobs for people. Sure I won’t get the 3080TI on release but maybe 3-6months after release by saving up. (assuming AMD’s GPU’s will be a flop)

        Recently I splashed out on a Oculus Quest after looking at VR helmets for 3 years, (its ok but ultra uncomfortable stock out-of-box)

        In saying that I’ve met extreme people whom will survive off tomato soup for 10yrs to save up for big ticket items (payment towards a house), but I would go insane doing that! and I already suffer from depression & insomnia, lol

          • Unless they’re selling the used parts for more money than the parts originally cost, there’s no capital gain. What income are you referring to?

  • Not blaming the subject of the article, but I’m confused how they ended up contacting ASUS first rather than going through Computer Alliance – by consumer law the retailer isn’t able to fob the customer off to deal with manufacturer directly and must take on that responsibility themselves (unless the customer would prefer to go to the manufacturer themselves, they’re free to).

    I’d like to know if they incorrectly advised the subject to go to the manufacturer, which is what kicked off this entire mess. I quite like Computer Alliance so that’d be pretty disappointing to confirm.

    • “One day later, Narull shipped the monitor back to ASUS’s repair centre. As is customary for a lot of PC parts, the original manufacturer is the one who deals with repairs, not the retailer (Computer Alliance in this case).”

      Sounds like he didn’t even contact CA and just took it upon himself to send it to ASUS. If that is the case, it’s kinda his fault. I mean, I’m not trying to blame him really. But I wouldn’t deal with the manufacturer unless I have no other options. The retailer is usually a hell of a lot more willing to help.

      • If that is the case, it’s kinda his fault.
        You’re forgetting Asus had already agreed to complete the repair under warranty before he shipped it. How is any of this the fault of the consumer?

        • Warranties usually cover a hell of a lot less than the Australian Consumer Law statutory guarantees do, and cover for a hell of a lot less time. ASUS isn’t covered by their guarantees, being the manufacturer, not the retailer. First port of call, in ANY fault or issue, should be the retailer, who is then required to remedy per those guarantees.

          Long story short, warranties usually aren’t worth the paper they are printed on over here. You are legally guaranteed more rights to repair and remedy under the ACL.

          • You’re mistaken in your comments re: statutory guidelines. A warranty or a guarantee can not exclude your rights under ACL.
            a
            but Australian Consumer Law also holds companies to honour their warranties and companies that fail to do so are liable for civil penalties.

            Yes the retailer is held under ACL, but that doesn’t mean that ASUS are off the hook from the same laws if they are also providing a direct remedy under the warranty.

          • Warranties tend to be more limited in scope, though, as i said, and ACL rights to remedy apply exclusively to the retailer, not the manufacturer. So the manufacturer is under no obligation to remedy something under a warranty that doesn’t cover it (unless they have already said they will in communications with the customer), but the retailer would still be obligated to remedy it if it was deemed a minor or major fault.

          • You’re incorrect again
            Quote from ACCC:

            If you provide goods or services to consumers with a document evidencing a warranty against defects you must adhere to the requirements of the ACL.

            The ACCC and other ACL Regulators expect compliance with the requirements at all levels of the supply chain (that is, suppliers and manufacturers alike).

          • the quote in my other post was supposed to cover both paragraphs. I’m not editing it as it’ll get stuck in moderation for days.

  • After dealing with this progress for a number of years I’m not really surprised at how it is run. What surprises me is how this is now put on a public message wall. I’ve had a number of issuses over the years with a few pieces of hardware and had to deal with the supplier to get the warranty sorted at all, not the store/online shop, and then it was a long wait.

  • Seems like the quality of the build doesn’t match price tag. Might steer clear of ASUS for my next monitor.

  • You can carefully take the monitor apart and separate the LCD component from the front glass sheet. Done in a relatively clean room with gloves on is pretty safe. That’s what I would do, but if your a complete idiot and don’t trust yourself then yeah, fuck.

  • Why would this be covered by warranty? Monitors aren’t advertised as sealed units.

    You have bugs in your house dude.

    • It would be covered under Australian consumer law. A force more powerful than any warranty. Though alot of companies think that this does not apply to them in Australia.
      I myself had a run around trying to get a pram seller to repair a broken handle, that broke from nothing more than regular use. The product was both in warranty and protected by ACL, yet still the retailer was INCREDIBLY non compliant.
      Ended up reporting them to the ombudsman and taking them to small claims. It was a simple open shut case where we won and they had to repair our pram, pay our fees AND got a fine for not complying in the first place.

      Don’t fuck with Aussies.

  • Yeah, no way is that a warranty issue, it’s not the fault of the monitor a bug got into the screen, that’s an external force acting on the product,
    Even if it was a $2000 or more makes no difference, same thing if you had a surge come through your house and fried it.
    They really need to update the what warranties cover to say, “if it’s an outside force that damaged your product or caused it to stop working, then not covered, even under the acl…”

    • Forgot to add, cost of labour to fix these things is a thing you know, even if they did a solid and covered the parts for you, you’ve still got to pay someone to do it…

  • Based on the $600 repair price for a $1000 monitor with no real damage, I will not be buying any asus products again or have any dealings with them. I will suggest as such if anyone ask.

  • I also had a terrible experience with ASUS support in QLD some years ago. I bought three identical 22″ ones from Umart and got two that grew some dead pixels after a few months and another that had a backlight failure. One of the dead pixel monitors was returned to me with a faulty backlight too, so it ended up being four return shipments for three monitors.

    I got the run around from ASUS support with it sitting in the warehouse for weeks, then ‘needing parts’, then being told that there are no spare parts and they’re waiting for another faulty monitor to come in to fix mine, then spare parts being three months away, then suddenly the parts appearing and the monitor being shipped back within a day of lodging a formal complaint. Amazing.

    Never bought another ASUS product again. It’s a shame, they used to make excellent hardware, but that experience just left such a bad taste in my mouth that I never wanted to risk repeating it. I have however, kept the box from every monitor I’ve bought since, just in case…

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