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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recently announced voluntary recall of Best Buy’s Insignia “house brand” 26” IS-LCDTV26 HDTV is a bad deal for the more than 13,000 consumers who purchased the sets between August 2005 and June of 2006.

A fire and burn hazard caused by the set’s failure-prone power supply that has already injured one set owner necessitated the recall.  The terms of the recall will burn the rest of the set owners, based on research conducted by HD Guru®.

Though the sets actually sold for between $899.95 and $1000.00 (plus tax) according to owners’ on-line comments and information HD Guru obtained from PCmag.com, the terms of the agreement set the sale price at “about $800.”  Why is that price disparity significant?

The agreement states that upon receipt of the set (with Best Buy supplying shipping container and picking up the freight cost), Best Buy will send the customer a $500 “gift card.”

Flat Screen HDTVs “…should last 10 years or more…” in normal use according to Consumer Reports.  The recalled sets have 65%-71.7% remaining minimum life expectancy, but the CSPC allowed Best Buy to offer just 50%-55.5% of the original cost to affected consumers.

That’s a bad deal for consumers and a good one for Best Buy.
In addition, allowing Best Buy to offer a gift card instead of a store credit, means sales tax will have to be paid on the replacement set.  Customers who bought a defective television will end up paying sales tax twice.

Still, the agreement is better than nothing since the sets cannot be repaired.  Customer complaints on websites including Epinions and CNET describing power supply failures of these TVs and no repair parts available from Best Buy’s Insignia division, led HD Guru to label these sets “Disposable TVs.”

While the agreement is not a good deal for consumers, the HD Guru recommends accepting it.  Even if your set works fine, it represents a serious fire and burn hazard.  Stop using the set immediately and call Best Buy’s recall department at (800) 233-0462.

If you have one of these TVs and would like to complain about this raw deal, call the CPSC recall hotline at 800-638-2772.

When the gift card arrives, take the HD Guru’s advice and buy a name brand replacement set.  You’ll be glad did.

-HD Guru with Michael Fremer

The USCPSC Recall Announcement Link

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