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Multimedia Answers: TV under warranty should be repaired gratis

Thursday, March 20, 2003

By Don Lindich

Q: We have an Advent 20-inch flat screen tube TV that was purchased from Best Buy. The TV is not working and is still under warranty, but past the return period. I went to Best Buy and they want to charge me $25 to get it repaired because we didn't buy their "Performance Service Plan" extended warranty. We are kind of mad over this and did not bring it to them yet. We don't think we should have to pay them to get something under warranty fixed! Any advice?

-- Amy McCloskey, Rosslyn Farms

A: I was somewhat taken aback by your story and contacted Advent to both inquire about its warranty policies and to see if it had other authorized service centers in the area. Advent representative Vic Wasyluk informed me that under the terms of Advent's agreement with Best Buy, Best Buy is to repair Advent televisions that are under warranty without charge to the customer. If Wasyluk has not contacted you already, you should be hearing from him soon to get your television repaired without charge.

While I was distressed by your story, I was not at all surprised that you were treated in such a fashion because you did not buy an extended warranty. Consumers purchasing electronics nowadays often experience considerable sales pressure to buy extended warranties and service plans. The reason for this is pure profit: Extended warranties are probably the most profitable items electronics superstores sell.

Retailer policies and store management exert considerable pressure on the salespeople, and this in turn is passed down to you. Even in stores where salespeople are not commissioned, employees' ability to sell extended warranties is often tracked (usually by a percentage of dollar volume), and store managers assign employees' shifts and hours based on their warranty sales. High warranty sales can lead to promotion and favorable treatment; poor warranty sales can lead to transfer to different positions, less lucrative shifts, or termination.

Remember this the next time you are given a hard-line sales pitch for an extended warranty. You may be given an "assumptive close" such as, "You will want/need the warranty with that" or offered the warranty multiple times to break down your resistance. Remember, it's your money, and your right to say "no." When you buy a warranty, you are basically betting the product will break outside the warranty period. Most defective electronics will break soon after being used if they are going to break at all. If you don't want the warranty, say "no" and stick to it.

If you don't like the treatment you are receiving at a certain store, try a different one next time. Often small family owned television dealers (they do still exist!) offer excellent prices and very personal service. Among large retailers, Sears has very favorable customer service and satisfaction policies. Some Sears locations offer a 60-day return period for both defective goods and customer satisfaction. Be sure to ask at each specific location before you buy.

Finally, if you have electronics that require warranty work or exchange, you will frequently have better luck dealing directly with the manufacturer. For example, many manufacturers of photo inkjet printers have a 24-hour exchange policy. When you contact them to report a defective printer, they will send you another one via next-day air so you will have your replacement the very next day. Along with the printer you receive prepaid labels for UPS or a similar shipping service. You put the defective printer in the box, affix the labels, and call for pickup. You're back in business with no hassles.

Visit Don's Web site, www. multimediaanswers.com, to submit your questions, view past columns and learn more about audio, video and digital photography.

Click here for an archive of previous Interact articles

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