Why do my flat-screen monitors keep breaking?

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Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I’ve had a problem with flat screen monitors for my PC. I’ve now bought two of them and neither has lasted more than three years.

Is there some inherent fault with their design?

JW (internet)

A No, not exactly. From what I can gather from your mail, the two monitors both packed up in under three years with the same fault – they started flickering on and off, and then reverted to a black screen.

This is symptomatic of power supply problems. Premature failure is not uncommon with TFT monitors, especially where cheap components have been used in the power supply circuitry.

Although monitors have dropped like a stone in price, it might still pay you to get yours repaired. A 19-inch monitor repair is likely to cost around £60, and in the process, the cheap components causing the problem can be replaced with higher quality parts.

If you stump up for a new one, go for a top end monitor. A cheap one will simply risk another failure within a few years and you’ll be back to square one.

With electricals it’s still largely true – you get what you pay for.

Q I’m planning to spend a month touring Europe in June.

What is the cheapest way of getting around and sightseeing?

A de H (internet)

A Setting aside the youthful bravado known only to hitchhikers, your cheapest option would be coach travel.

That’s likely to come in the form of a Eurolines pass, which gives you a choice of 15 or 30 days travel.

It’s also totally flexible.

Just pre-book your first destination, then book as you go.

It’s a perfect combination for just chilling out, or travel at your own pace from country to country.

A 15-day pass costs around £180 and a 30-day pass £250. There are variations to cover high and low travel seasons.

Watch out for luggage limits, and don’t travel with wads of cash. Use a pre-paid debit card instead.

Another less strenuous option of getting around Europe is to get yourself an inter-rail pass.

The pass covers travel in and between 30 European countries, and will set you back £380 for 15 days, and £585 for one month’s 2nd class travel.

For a small supplement you can book a sleeper, and save on overnight accommodation costs.

Getting around on foot is always the cheapest way to see the sights, but if you’d like the local transport services to take the strain, book a one, three, or weekly travel pass.

They’re usually available at train and bus stations, or tobacco kiosks, and will save you a fortune on individual fares.

Whatever travel plans you make, be sure to take your mobile phone, and regularly ring or text friends and family back home.

If anything goes wrong at least they’ll know where you are and can ride to the rescue if you lose the shirt off your back, or find your debit card has been lost or stolen.