Vizio Disposable HDTV Sellers: Do They Have Your Back?

October 3rd, 2011 · 11 Comments · 3D HDTV, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, Plasma

Updated 10/26: Now Includes Best Buy

After uncovering complaints from Vizio owners who were told by the company that their recently purchased, but out of warranty, defective TVs were “unrepairable” link, HD Guru contacted the largest Vizio dealers: Wal-mart, Target, Costco, Amazon, BJs and Sam’s Club. Each retailer was asked if they will continue to sell TVs the manufacturer calls unrepairable, and what policies they have in place that would be helpful to buyers of defective HDTVs.

We contacted the PR departments looking for a comment on the corporate policy regarding selling products that a vendor doesn’t support post-warranty. In addition, to determine what, if any, assistance the company provides to set owners. Target was the only company to respond, referring us to their consumer electronics support phone number.

The results were varied. None of the companies have any corporate policies regarding vendors that don’t support repairs after the factory warranty expires! The only help any of them offer are refundable return periods, which vary from 15 days to 90 days, plus offers of extended warranties. The length and conditions differ from store to store. Five of the six dealers offer extended warranties from National Electronics Warranty Corp. (NEW). We also contacted NEW to learn more about its offerings through these five companies and list them below.

Best Buy

Best Buy only carries one model of Vizio, exclusively online. It’s a refurbished 32 inch TV. Best Buy will not offer an extended warranty on this Vizio or any refurbished TV, limiting the warranty to 90 days. Considering extended warranties are a profit center for Best Buy, its refusal to offer extra protection for refurbished TVs do not speak well for the risk of failure. For comparison, we substituted a 42 inch RCA from Best Buy priced at $650. The RCA TV brand name is licensed from Thomson-Technicolor to On Corp. a Korean company that manufactures its TVs in China.

 

Policies


Wal-Mart

TV return period: 15-days with purchase receipt

Other assistance: Extended warranties by NEW (see below)

 

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Sam’s Club

This paid membership warehouse club is a division of Wal-Mart.

TV return period: 90-days with receipt

Other assistance: Extended warranties by NEW (see below)

 

Target

Target PR directed us to “877-myTGTtech” (1-877-698-4883), Target’s special consumer electronics helpline. It is operated by NEW.

TV return period: 90-days with receipt

Other assistance: Extended warranty by NEW (see below)

 

Amazon (Direct)

The policies only apply to TVs purchased from etailer Amazon Direct, not one of their authorized stores.

TV return period: 30-days after delivery

Other assistance: Canopy extended service plans from NEW or plans from Square Trade

 

Costco Warehouse Club (paid membership)

TV return policy: 90-days

Other assistance: Costco members get double the manufacturer’s warranty, free with the purchase of a TV (two years parts and labor for Vizio). They also sell warranties from Square Trade. (see below)

 

BJ’s Warehouse Club

TV return policy: 30-days

Other assistance: Extended warranties from NEW.

 

Best Buy

TV return policy: 30 days

Other assistance:  Best Buy offers its own extended warranty plan called Black Tie Protection. For the $650 RCA it costs $79.99 for a total of two years (1+1) or $119.99 for a total of four years.

 

NEW Warranties

NEW sells service contracts through Target, Amazon, Wal-Mart Sam’s Club and BJ’s. The terms, conditions and prices vary from store to store.  For comparison purposes we picked a $628-$649.99 Vizio LCD. NEW warranty covers power surges during the contract period. We asked NEW: what is your repair protocol for TVs, specifically Vizios?  What do the terms state regarding replacement for TVs? Their response:

“Regardless of brand, NEW will always try to repair a customer’s TV first.  If we are unable to repair the TV or if parts are not available to do the repair, NEW provides the customer with a replacement product, check or gift card for the original product purchase price. While our terms for the program listed below state that replacement products may be new, remanufactured, or a product of like kind and quality that performs to the factory specification of the original product, NEW does not provide remanufactured products to the customers of the clients listed below” ( BJ’s, Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart)

NEW Service Plan prices and terms for each Vizio dealer:

Wal-Mart: $88.33 for a 4-year total service plan. Term begins after expiration of 1 year factory warranty.

Sam’s Club $79.96 for a 4 year total service plan. Terms begins after the expiration of the 1 year factory warranty.

Target: $79.99 for 3-year total service plan. Term begins date of purchase.

Amazon: $147.99 for 5-year total service plan.  Term begins on date of purchase. Amazon also sells Square Trade warranty (see below)

BJ’s: $39.99 for 3-year total service plan. Term begins after expiration of 1-year factory warranty.

Square Trade CEO Steve Abernethy told HD Guru: If a TV is deemed unrepairable or the cost of repair exceeds the price of the TV, Square Trade will reimburse a TV owner during the Square Trade contract period the cost of the TV not including the sales tax or the cost of the extended warranty.

Square Trade Plans

Costco: $59.99 for 5 year total service plan. Remember, all TVs purchased at Costco have free doubling of the factory warranty. Terms are one year factory warranty, then one year Costco Concierge plan that duplicates factory warranty. Square Trade plan adds  3 years to that.  If you purchase the TV and Square Trade plan with the American Express card your total plan becomes 6 years.

Amazon: $99.99 for 4-year Square Trade warranty. Term begins on day of purchase.

 

Conclusions

Given the choice between a name-brand HDTV (i.e. Panasonic, Samsung , Sony, Toshiba) with their own parts network and established nationwide service, and a Vizio or a no-name brand (i.e. Sceptre, Seiki , Curtis) we recommend going with the name brand set. If you buy with American Express card or MasterCard (link) you get a double length warranty (usually two years total) at no cost. If you do need service for a problem, the name brand companies stand behind their products.

If you want a Vizio,  based on all the complaints about getting its sets repaired, we highly recommend purchasing an extended warranty.

While we would like to see dealers not sell products the vendor calls “unrepairable” or claims they cost more to repair than to purchase as Vizio does, warehouse club Costco has by far the best return and warranty policies. For Vizio dealers that do not require membership, Target has the longest return policy but the most expensive ($40 per year) and shortest-term extended warranty. Amazon offers the best compromise with a 30 day return and a $33 a year cost for its 4-year total term Square Trade warranty.

 

 

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • tim bennett

    today i purchased a sharp 42 inch led hd tv at best buy i’m not pleased with the vizio brand after reading complaints about vizio 3 more brands you don’t to buy phillips magnavox and rca 92% of buyers recommend the sharp i was impressed by the reviews from the customers at best buy i will never buy another vizio product again they now number 2 in sales

  • your mama

    Refusal to repair may sound outrageous but it is not. It is the simple reality of modern day electronics that are constantly changing and produced in highly automated ways. Apt he fact is that just about any repair on modern flat panels cost more than new. Vizio is saying this very thing by saying it is not repairable. Would ou rather that they jus quote ou a price that is more than a new set? Of course not. So why the complaints? None of these extended warranties do not get you set repaired either, they at best refund your original purchase price or a part of it and they are not being offered out of generosity, the vendors make money on these warranties as you will likely not make a claim or not make a valid claim (something missing on your part like the original sales receipt at four years out). Stop all the wining and face the fact that advanced are cheap to buy and cheap to replace these days and that the ads of a tv repairman visiting you home to o more Han collect the set are gone.

  • Robert Chavez

    I have read till my eyes are about to bleed on the issue of Vizio products. Yes i have a (xvt554asv)
    with a 2 year life span :( They tell me since it is out of warrantee that cost of replacement of the panel is not worthy, Yet i can pay close to 2 grand for this POS. I dont get the reasoning, Also the last of any Vizio line for me.. If you know someone that can fix this please feel free to contact me at my e mail address. Mom and Pop shop says its a Front Panel. But i didnt feel they knew enough when asked why. Thanks Bob.

  • shane

    But Heier, Visio, Westinghouse and a host of promo-priced items, likely cost 3x the REPLACE price to REPAIR…..so why repair it at all ?
    Low end 32-40″ TVs for 200.00-350.00 are cheaper to REPLACE. And with bad telephone support, most people do not BOTHER to call, they chuck it.

    Thats what Hd guru is getting at. WHY is it so expensive to repair? and why is the phone support so bad?

    Like HD comments about inverters on Vizio panels. They arent repairable only because vizio doesnt have the source for the inverters, and dont have the info on the inverters, since they are just a shell company from america that sources everything. If they built their own product, like Samsung, you could most likely get the tcon or inverter on most models.

  • Locksmithy

    Much of the back and forth are different technician groups marginalizing the other.

    I have bought a disposable tv myself.. it was a Systemax, if I recall. The TV was comparable to Westinghouse and other name-slapped no-name products.

    A legend of TV Makes, and who actually makes them might be very helpful to understanding who is renting out their old good name, and who is imparting value by engineering and manufacturing what they sell. Also, panels are often made OEM to many makers from other sources.

    As a consumer, who is NOT in the industry, I rely on past experience. Unfortunately, that does not necessarily reflect the current situation with a manufacturer.

    Even with that said, I have NEVER EVER been DISSAPOINTED having bought ANYTHING bearing the Mitsubishi name; be it Television, Telephone, Cell phone ( AKA DiamondTel ). Almost the same I can say of Panasonic, except for telephones.

    Sony is a weird example… plenty of professional, local, independent service centers nationwide…… yet the product can take 6 months or more in the shop to get repaired. Not good for a flagship brand. Most often the problem was a blown power supply, or a pack of diodes… of whioch Sony NEVER had stock of in the US… for EACH work order, it got back-ordered from Japan. The TV shops were never happy about the slow parts supply line, either…. they got trapped between factory and consumer.

    The Sony example, which I have had occur with HD and older top model sets…. perhaps major component swap-out, or complete replacement is a godo method. I realize it does not take a rocket-surgeon to do such a replacement, but it allows for rebuilding large numbers of product in a factory, controlled, and TESTABLE envirionment…. or for canabilizing ( recycling ) of the materials to save from dumping into landfills.

    Yes, that is less techie than the soldering gun, but it is a viable meethod to repair a QUALITY TV….

    But Heier, Visio, Westinghouse and a host of promo-priced items, likely cost 3x the REPLACE price to REPAIR…..so why repair it at all ?
    Low end 32-40″ TVs for 200.00-350.00 are cheaper to REPLACE. And with bad telephone support, most people do not BOTHER to call, they chuck it.

    I am glad to be a locksmith, and not a TV Repairman who is a hotshot with a soldering iron…. not enough items WORTH the skills and price to repair anymore.

    I am about to retire my 200lb TUBE television… a Sony HDTV, one of the last tubes off the line.

    It works perfectly… but 32″ and takes a boatload of space.

  • Dave / NM

    As for me…I’ll stick with Samsung !!!

  • Mike Franklin

    This kind of thing has become the norm in the digital age; manufacturers no longer care to warranty their own products and retailers continue to limited return dates. This speaks to both the lack of care/quality going into the merchandise and the indifference of those that market them. In both instances, the consumer is the loser.

  • shane

    id also like to add that panel replacement in the home for most brand is doable in the host. I do them all the time.

    Its neither messy, nor usually very difficult as most panels will come as an assembly. Larger sets may need to be pulled to a shop, but only because of the needed space, not technical difficulty of replacing the panel.

    its very evident that Steve is one of the board swappers that i mentioned onforce sends out with little or no knowledge of the set, whose skills do not lie in understanding the set, but having a good technical grasp of assembly and disassembly.

    There are a lot of “mom and pop” shops out there who can do a hell of a job repairing a tv, but companies like vizio farm it out to board swappers who really dont know what the repair is. In fact, those mom and pops would rather do a component level repair than replace a board, but you think vizio supplies manuals that arent just glorified exploded views? no. Vizio just contracts out the cheapest product their can that meets their spec, be damned repairing the set cost effectively.

    You want to find a great model for repair, go look at Samsung. Their FE program is superb and effective with excellent factory training.

    Panasonic also has excellent service with their concierge servicers who have access to hands on training.

    Sharp has the same.

    If vizio wants to move ahead, they need to drop Onforce and ITI and get a national ASC network going like almost all the other manufacturers.

    As you said yourself, vizio repairs their sets with
    “trained computer techs”… Why the hell arent they using TV techs? Seems to me, you wouldnt want a trained computer tech working on your car.

  • shane

    I cannot believe what you are saying Steve.

    Vizio tvs are contracted out for ridiculously low labor repair prices for repairmen through iti, then through onforce, which any person can basically make a login and start taking jobs.

    I had an onforce account and i get dispatched for 55 dollars to go fix a vizio tv. Thats at least 40 dollars less than any other manufacturer in the martket. And this rate is what they pay and tell you have to get a helper too!

    Not to mention all the others mfgs has Authorized Service Centers that get training directly from the mfr, whereas any no name dude can just take a few web classes on onforce and get ” qualified”

    Also, until maybe 9 months ago, you didnt even need any kind of insurance or business license to work for onforce. You trust some joe blow walking into your house and experimenting on your tv?

    most of the time the guy isnt even a tech. he just gets mailed some boards and gets told throw em in, if it doesnt work, then he just tells em to send something different.

    I could go on forever on this company and how bad they are.

    Dont DEFEND vizio on a repair standpoint. they are terrible.

  • Steve

    So how is the witch hunt going?

    I take exception at this thing you have going calling VIZIO a disposable TV. They are no more disposable than any of the so-called top brands that you apparently prefer. As a tech who is subcontracted by several companies that manufacturers use to service HDTV’s in and out of warranty, I can tell you for a fact that VIZIO’s in-warranty service (in my area, at least) is at least on par with and usually better than anyone else’s.

    Their sets DO get repaired just like all the big guys. With VIZIO, 32″ sets and larger get in-home service and the TV is usually repaired within 7-10 days of the first call. They are no more disposable than your revered *insert name*, either in-warranty or out-of-warranty. Remember, I see beginning-to-end repair processes for several brands.

    What YOU are referring in your defaming articles is when a panel failure occurs and VIZIO’s preference to replace the TV rather than have the panel replaced at the end user’s residence.

    Depending on size and type, panel replacement can get messy and is a task better suited to a repair facility. There is an error in your way of thinking when you take VIZIO’s statement about panel failures and then say that the sets are disposable and not repairable. This shows me that you might be more of a “TV hobbyist” and not so much a linear thinker when it comes to logistics, technical issues, and customer service.

    In cases of an in-warranty panel failure (panel failures are rare, BTW), VIZIO has the end user’s convenience in mind when they opt to replace the set. They get a replacement TV shipped to them within 5 days, the delivery service sets the replacement up, and then takes the failed TV away where it is shipped to a repair/re-certification facility.

    The policy is that large TV’s get serviced onsite. Mom and Pop electronics shops are gone – TV’s are repaired in home by trained computer techs and we are held to high standards. Repairs on HDTV’s are almost always board replacements and these repairs go quick – about 30 min. Repeat visits are very rare.

    But trust me – you would not want to have a large-screen HDTV panel replaced in your home. It doesn’t make sense. Nor would you be too happy being shipped a carton, told to box the TV for LTL freight pickup and then wait 3 weeks for it to be repaired and the back and forth shipping.

    Generally, TV replacement for panel issues is best customer service solution. If your OUT-of-warranty set (regardless of mfg) has a panel failure, I’ll bet the farm that you will buy a new TV after you see the price for a replacement panel and labor for a tech to come and replace it.

    That would make your Panny plasma disposable, would it not?

    You can spout your sanctimonious comments all you want as we let readers respond if they do so in a civil way. The fact remains there are hundreds of complaints regarding Vizio warranty and post warranty service. We have received dozens of emails from Vizio owner frustrated by being told their 15-24 month old TV is unrepariable.

    A common problem appears to be a bad inverter. According to customer complaints Vizio deems these sets “unrepairable” while Sony and others offer replacement. Sony just announced it will replace defective out of warranty failing inverters for free in select 40″ TVs that have been prone to failure. Obviously you make money on warranty repairs of Vizio so you don’t want to rock the boat.

    We see and read emails from set owners that bought their TVs expecting 8-10 years of service and are being told that their set is not repairable or not economically repairable in less than two years of use. Here is a website that show what repairable problem TVs such as a bad inverter looks like on screen link
    HD Guru

  • john

    At Costco, you get three years total warranty if you purchase a TV with their American Express card.

    Incorrect. American Express recently changed its policy regarding Costco TV purchases. If you use the Amex card and don’t buy they extended warranty total coverage remains two years (1+1).

    However, as stated in the article, if you buy with an American Express card the TV and the Square Trade warranty you get an extra year from Amex (1+1+3+1) for six years total coverage.

    HD Guru

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