Woman shopping for TV 580

Most HDTVs can be considered quite reliable, with big-name brands like Panasonic, Samsung, LG, and Toshiba scoring high marks on consumer surveys. But even though today’s HDTVs have a 7-10 year life expectancy, you could end up owning one with a problem that requires a costly repair. Don’t panic: We’re going to outline the steps you should take when you make your purchase to guard against this eventuality.

We consider small TVs that sell for under $200 more or less disposable, but big screen models cost real money. If you’re on a fixed income, or plan to finance your purchase, we strongly recommend sticking with brands that have an excellent reputation for product reliability and customer service. JD Power’s most recent customer satisfaction survey gave top performance and reliability marks to Samsung for its 50-inch and larger HDTVs . The survey also ranked Samsung number one overall in HDTVs. Vizio, the second largest seller of HDTVs in the U.S. behind Samsung, did not do so well: The company ranked 4th overall, with consumers citing below-average reliability and performance. Complaints listed on consumer websites such as consumeraffairs.com also suggest that Vizio’s customer service and warranties leave a lot to be desired.

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If you’re worried that you won’t be able afford a major repair during the first few years of HDTV ownership, here’s what we recommend.

• Pay for your TV using an American Express, MasterCard , or a Visa Signature card (it must be a Signature type). These three options offer a free doubling of the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one year parts and labor (most new HDTVs come with a one-year factory warranty).

• If you can’t obtain one of the above cards, or want to take advantage of a store’s free financing deal—or simply desire longer-term peace of mind—a SquareTrade  extended warranty from Costco is a real deal that big screen HDTV and UHDTV buyers should not pass up!

Costco now offers a SquareTrade three-year extended warranty for $99.99 (members) or $104.99 (non-members) on any television $1000 and up. They also offer a $29.99 (members) 0r $34.99 (non-members) for TVs costing less than $500, or $59.99 to $64.99 for HDTVs costing from $500 to $1000  warranty for TVs .  Some restrictions apply: You must buy the TV from an authorized dealer (or Costco), and the plan must be added within 60 days of your purchase. The three-year warranty comes on top of the manufacturer’s own warranty. For example, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and LG HDTVs come with a 12-month parts and labor warranty, so that’s 4 years total with the SquareTrade plan added. Sony UHDTVs come with an 18-month factory warranty (4.5 years total) and Samsung’s new OLED HDTV comes with a 2-year factory warranty (5 years total).

We compared TV prices from Best Buy and Amazon (with UPP link they are about the same) along with the Best Buy Geek Squad protection plan pricing and the SquareTrade/Costco deal on TVs above $1000. Guess what we found? Savings up to 83% from SquareTrade/Costco compared with Geek Squad protection. This translates to $170-$500 in savings depending on the TV type and selling price. Here are a few examples:


Samsung UN55F7100: Amazon ($1597.99); (BB) $1599.99; BB Geek Squad 4-year total plan ($269.99); Costco 4-year total plan ($99.99 / $104.99 NM)

Samsung PN64F8500: Amazon ($2897.99); BB ($2899.99); BB Geek Squad 4-year total plan ($499.99); Costco SquareTrade 4-year total plan ($99.99 / $104.99 NM)

Panasonic TC-P65ZT60: Amazon ($3969.77); BB ($3969.98); BB Geek Squad 4-year total plan ($599.99); Costco SquareTrade 4-year total plan ($99.99 / $104.99 NM)

Sony XBR-65X900A: Amazon ($5498.00); BB ($5499.98); BB Geek Squad 4-year total plan ($579.99) Costco SquareTrade 4.5-year total plan ($99.99 / $104.99 NM)

Samsung KN55S9C: Amazon ($8997.99); BB ($8998.99); BB 4-year total plan ($599.99) Costco SquareTrade 5-year total plan ($99.99 / $104.99 NM)


(BB=Best Buy; NM=non Costco-member)


Bottom Line: The price for the Costco SquareTrade protection plan is so low, we can’t see why anyone would pass it up.


Note: prices are correct as of posting and may change at any time, please verify with our links


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