Earlier this year, I bought an external monitor for my laptop. When I travel, I can still have two monitor’s worth of space. Well, the travel monitors are smaller than the home monitors, but it is still better than a single laptop display for times when I am doing more than checking e-mail. Fortunately, I am not on the road all the time but I still managed to justify the expense! I got an ASUS MB168B which received mixed reviews due to a bit of a learning curve with how to work the stand/case. Once you understand how to do it, though, it’s ingenious because there are only 3 parts – the monitor, the case, and the cable – where the case turns into a stand without additional parts and therefore keeps the travel weight down. The only thing I would have liked was to get a higher resolution on the monitor. The MB168B has 1366X768 while my internal laptop display is 1600X900. Not too long after I bought my monitor, ASUS released (or it became available where I couldn’t find it before) the MB168B+ which has a resolution of 1920×1080, seemingly in the same case.
One day the monitor just didn’t work. Plugged it in, Windows 7 did the little “pa-dunk” noise as usual, and… nothing. I had a white LED on the monitor indicating that it was on, I could drag windows to it, Windows 7 Control Panel showed it active but I didn’t see anything on the screen. As though it wasn’t getting power. But obviously, the panel was getting power to the whole unit so it was clearly an internal issue.
I submitted a case report at ASUS Support via e-mail and didn’t hear anything back. After a few days, I switched to chat (whose hours aren’t ideal for my schedule) and was able to get a quick result: the chat revealed that e-mail support won’t help much unless I have an “RMA” started. I thought the e-mail might help figure out if an RMA was needed and if so, it would generate one, but ASUS does things backwards from what I would have expected. Okay, so start an RMA. That went well enough. And pretty soon, I was shipping the monitor off to ASUS. I tracked via UPS and saw that it arrived in City of Industry, CA, right when it should have. And then radio silence from ASUS. I didn’t get any notification it had been received by them or that it was going to be repaired or if it was, where I was in line.
Back on their web site, I looked for a way to check on current status. I couldn’t find anything. Eventually I googled and found it. This is the page for checking current status. The status simply said something about it being in process. Only a day or so later, I got an e-mail indicating that the repair was complete and it indicated that shipping carrier was “UPS GROUND” although no tracking number was included. And it didn’t say anything about whether a repair had been done or not. I got back on the online chat and asked somebody for more information. They were helpful and were able to retrieve the internal description: “PROBLEM CODE- LMZP01 No Display with power on REPAIR CODE- R13 Repair with same component/part (including BGA re-ball)”. Unfortunately the chat rep didn’t know what that meant but at least I had confirmation that there had been a repair – and not that it showed up working through some sort of annoying shipping it for service temporarily fixed the problem. I started to ask for the tracking number but the chat abruptly ended. (I guess I shouldn’t complain so much about the times I always here “is there anything else I can do for you today?”) And since I figured shipping would probably be pretty fast, waiting wouldn’t be too tough.
I have signed up for UPS myChoice. I like to see that packages have been sent and when they are coming and I was even able to use it to redirect a package to a neighbor when I was on vacation. It was strange that the package had supposedly shipped and yet it wasn’t showing in my UPS calendar. About the day I was giving up waiting, I was heading out and started driving out of the driveway when I saw a FedEx truck down the street come to a stop. The driver got out and looked around so I stopped my car. I got out and that’s when he realized where my house was. Yep, it was from ASUS. They said it was “UPS GROUND” but obviously got that wrong. I suppose that’s why there was no UPS tracking number! And good thing I stopped too, because it required signature.
The ASUS weirdness continued when I opened the box. It was a much larger box than I had sent and some of the tape had broken. Inside was plastic bubble case the size of the box – whoa. That’s pretty cool. Except inside the large bubble case was my smaller box bouncing around! And inside my smaller box was my monitor, but not packed nearly as well as when I had sent it. So the monitor was loose inside my original box that was free to bounce around inside a bubble case inside of a different box – whose tape had snapped and was partly open.
So how is the monitor? Happy to report the monitor is working good as new. Although the monitor was dusty and had smudges on the screen. Also, it had a sticker on the bezel like it did when it was new and strangely, the bezel listed it as being a MB168B+! Did the repair somehow turn it into the higher res model? Nope, just wrong sticker. My guess is that the bezel ends up breaking during the repair and they need to replace it with a new one and they don’t pay attention to which device gets which bezel and all the bezel inventory has stickers on it. Still, it means more sticky residue that I now need to clean off from the bezel.
And that wasn’t the end of the experience! A few days before I actually received the monitor (from FedEx instead of UPS), I received a survey request. It did state that I may not have received the product yet but it is not smart to send a survey before receiving your repair – doesn’t instill confidence that ASUS knows what is going on. Now if the survey was sent as soon as the FedEx tracking indicator released it, that would have been smart.
I held off doing the survey until after I was able to get the monitor tested. I have now completed the survey and even that had issues. They asked for my opinion on things and a number of the answers had the following choices, in order: “Excellent”, “Good”, “Average”, “Bad”, and “Poor”. Apparently something was lost in translation – that “Poor” is not as bad as “Bad”. I know, English is a dumb language – I won’t defend that. But if a company wants to appeal to an English speaking market, probably wise that they get their translations correct. And how can they rely on results of the survey – any answer that is less than average could be answered either in the spirit of what was intended (i.e. the 5th choice is the lowest, the 4th is second lowest) or could be answered by word meaning. Also, the survey asked my reason for something, gave me a few choices and an “Other”. I selected “Other” but then couldn’t fill in the box next to “Other” as the instructions said I should. The survey concluded with a box for entering additional information. You can bet I took advantage of that!
There are many issues. Let’s start with this survey where “Bad” and “Poor” are in the wrong place (“Bad” is worse than “Poor”) and where I wanted to enter “Other” for #11 but it wouldn’t let me enter anything in the box. The return packaging included my original box, which is fine, but it was packed inside a huge bubble case in another box so that it bounced around. The repair was a success but the monitor returned dirty and with a sticker on it indicating a different model (MB168B+) than I had sent in (MB168B). I received a notification that my package was shipped via UPS Ground without any tracking information and the package showed up via FedEx. No information was given about the repair and the online form to track information had no information about what was repaired. And I had trouble even finding a form to check on my status – I couldn’t find a link from any ASUS web page and ended up googling to find it.
And then when I submitted the survey? Yep, a web page error. I think it submitted, but I’m not sure.
Yeah, it’s a lot of whining for a repair that was a success and was pretty quick. But ASUS needs to know that this is not a good way to build any brand loyalty.