I was starting to think the GPU had been lost. I got an email from UPS yesterday with a tracking number and was surprised to see that EVGA held onto it for an entire week (7th to the 14th); they said it would take "up to two days processing before it's shipped" not a week. Not a big deal though, I'm just happy they paid shipping.
It arrived this morning. Looks like the serial fell off while they were handling it and was taped on the back. I deep cleaned it the same way Ive done periodically: completely break down the card, remove dust with air and anti-static brushes, and work iso alcohol in. I used an old makeup brush, as (IIRC) White Owl suggested, and it worked excellently, much easier than qtips and a rag and saved the wear and risk of damage to my anti-static brushes. I followed that by soaking the components without stickers/decals plus the hardware in iso alcohol, then soap (Dawn IIRC) and water, then set them up to soak . Again, all of which I was prepared to do (and had cleaning supplies in hand) before originally shipping the GPU out, but foolishly decided against it (to corroborate what I told CS, that the GPU was not taken apart recently, and so could not have been damaged due to handling, as I've said before).
Many people seemed to assumed otherwise, but the blower/shroud area was the only area that had any notable dust, tarnishing, etc., so it went quickly. The shroud and blower area took all of 5min., the whole process took about a half hour (excluding time spent soaking components). Painless. Now it nearly looks new aside from the very light scratches that accrue from handling over ~8 years.
Yet, while it's probably fine now, I'm going to repeat the process at least once, then have a non smoker give it a whiff to assess the smoke odor. Still, I'll probably (at minimum) put it outside over the weekend to air out. I may also put it in a bread board system to confirm (again) that it's in its death throes and/or replace the shipping box to be safe. I want to give it the deluxe treatment and send out a fresh smelling immaculate GPU so I don't wind up getting the RMA denied again (the downtime is already painful, plus having to pay shipping from CT to CA at $20+ a pop a couple more times-while I would still definitely pay it-would probably approach or exceed the value of the card), or worse, have the warranty voided.
I'll post some before/after pictures before shipping it out again.
They're sending the GPU back for me to clean. After which they will supposedly RMA it. I'm glad they'll honor it but a bit disappointed as well; had I known it would be an issue, I would have cleaned it beforehand/not smoked around it. Basically I'm being held accountable for terms that were not in place when I bought the card.
I normally clean everything with iso alcohol, air, antistatic brushes etc., but, aside from a little dust buildup on the fan assembly, the card looked great before I sent it out. Plus, as I told them there could be no external cause of failure (it hadn't been opened, overclocked, nothing, not even serviced as the case is hepa filter modded), with no changes in over 6 months, I wanted the GPU to speak to that truth. Besides, I never in my wildest dreams thought a little dust buildup and smell of cigarette smoke could cause denial of RMA.
Today, after they sat on the card for 2 days, I get this email:
"Your EVGA graphics card is unable to be processed for warranty service as it arrived with a tarnished bracket and fan assembly with strong non-electrical ordor, which has resulted in damage to the product from improper operation and maintenance not covered under EVGA's warranty."
EDIT: That reads to me as though they would even use this as an excuse to not only deny the RMA but void the warranty as well.
Screencap of the email:
Pictures from EVGA that show buildup and tarnishing due to cigarette smoke
The GPU is ~8 years old; in what world is this not normal wear and tear? The tarnish and buildup on the GPU fan would take a measly 15min with a q-tip and iso alcohol to clean (I've done it before). With a lifetime warranty card, I felt like I had a target on my back for warranty denial, but I never thought they could sink this low.
Further, while their newer warranties stipulate denial based on excessive dust and cigarette buildup IIRC-not that I would concede that their is any issue with the card-the original product warranty has no such stipulation: https://www.evga.com/warranty/2007/
Yes, the GPU has had years of (albeit light) service, but I spent a lot on this GPU because of their (then) stellar service, with the promise that they'd take card of it when something went wrong. I'm really upset. I'm going to reach out and try to escalate the matter once I've calmed down a bit but I wanted to bring some awareness that they will deny warranty for little dust buildup and smoke odor on a GPU.