Who doesn’t like saving a buck? No one, we all work hard for our money, we owe it to ourselves to not overpay for anything unnecessarily. The trick is ensuring value is not sacrificed at the lower price point.
We had a case about a couple years ago of a recumbent bike whose owner reported would not turn on. Our tech arrived on site and began testing each component individually. Wall power was within spec, power pack showed an output of 9V which matched the rating on the label. The data cable that plugged into the console was showing an output of 9V so we knew the right power was getting where it needed to be. Everything other than the console was working as it should, it must be a defective console.
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
(not the actual power supply)
Fast forward a few days, we arrive with a new console from the manufacturer. Complete the install, turn it on and…nothing. Tech calls the manufacturer and double checks everything. Tech support confirmed the voltage ratings were correct and that no additional troubleshooting could be done. Tech confirmed with the customer that this was, in fact, the correct power pack and the customer indicated it was. Looking at all these symptoms and indications, as well as thinking they had sent out a bad console, the manufacturer agreed to send out another replacement under warranty.
Fast forward another few days, tech arrives, installs the second replacement console and, once again, nothing. What are the odds of two bad consoles with identical symptoms as the original console? Not likely. As the tech investigated further, he pressed our customer for more information. We came to find out that the power pack was NOT the original, but a replacement purchased on Amazon for about $10. This raised our index of suspicion, greatly.
We decided to purchase an OEM power cord ($20 from the manufacturer) and test it here at the office. We checked the label immediately after opening, sure enough, 9VDC, just what we had been told and what we expected. We plugged it in, tested the voltage, and came up with a reading of 13.5V. That must be wrong, let’s check it again. Same results. I have to admit, I checked it five times before I finally just came to terms with the fact that it was 13.5V. All this despite the label specifying 9V, the service manual for this machine specifying 9V and this manufacturer’s customer support center confirming it was supposed to be 9V. It made no sense, but I could not argue with the information I was seeing with my own eyes.
Now what? Well, at this point we had the two new “defective” consoles back at our office and were not going to be satisfied until we solved this. We rigged up a cable to feed power directly to the console from the power pack (NOT recommended for the average home user!) and the console lit up as it would during normal operation. All buttons on the console functioned as normally as they could without being connected to the machine, we knew we had solved the issue.
We went back to the customers a couple days later, swapped the power pack out and were rewarded with a properly functioning bike, much to everyone’s relief.
We learned that day that despite overwhelming documentation to the contrary, this power pack was certainly not supplying the correct output for this machine. Even the manufacturer was unaware of the difference, and we would have been skeptical ourselves had we not experienced it firsthand. Although it can be tempting to cut corners to save money on replacement parts, we never recommend doing so without some sort of guarantee that part will work for that machine from a source we trust. As tempting as it is to opt for the lower cost, your machine may not operate properly and is in danger of further damage when using substandard replacement parts.
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