5 On Your Side

Repairs for Big-Screen TVs Can Be a Big Headache

Posted February 1, 2007 8:55 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2007 11:39 p.m. EST

— Many people who are having problems with their big screen HDTVs are finding out the fix isn't easy.

When it happened to a Wilson County couple, they called 5 On Your Side for help.

Most people's big screens work fine, but it can be a problem when they do break. The consumers who have called 5 On Your Side say they have a difficult time getting them fixed.

Amanda Price and her husband have a relatively new LCD TV, but the 40-inch Sony is stuck in a corner.

“It's broken. It doesn't work,” Price said.

The Prices paid Sears in Wilson more than $2,200 for the set. She says it worked for just six months. Now, when she presses the power button, all she gets is a flashing red standby light.

Price has been standing by for a repair ever since. Price called Sony, which told her to call Sears, which sent an "authorized service provider."

“He basically said he'd never worked on this type of TV before,” Price said.

From there, Price says, it only got worse!

“Unreturned phone calls, the runaround basically is what you would call it. Pointing fingers. Sony's not responsible, Sears is not responsible, the contracting service is not responsible,” she said.

Big screen TV repair runarounds are becoming a common complaint in 5 On Your Side. So what's going on?

We turned to Consumer Reports electronics expert Jim Wilcox.

He tells us that the bottom line is that new television technology is complicated and so are repairs. He says a TV repair person used to be able to just replace a simple part. Now, they probably have to replace an entire circuit board.

The good news is that the Prices can watch the big bowl. The day we called Sears, the part came in. Their TV was fixed the next day.

So what can you do to reduce the chance you'll get a runaround on a big screen TV repair?

Consumer Reports says to buy a major brand because parts are usually easier to get. If it breaks in the first year, keep in mind that even if you bought an extended warranty, the manufacturer's warranty takes priority.

And often, customer loyalty counts. If you're a good customer, many retailers are much more willing to help you out.

Wilcox says that because those replacement boards and other parts are expensive, service centers don't usually keep them in stock. So, when they're needed, they often have to be shipped from Asia.

In fact, when we called Sears about Prices TV, spokeswoman Shirley Bicknell blamed a part delay.

Price said she feels that considering how many consumers are buying big screens, manufacturers and retailers need to get the repair process worked out. Because when you buy it, you want to watch it—especially on Super Bowl weekend.