[Update (9/92/11)] Vizio reached out to us in response to this story. Scroll down for the company’s official statement]
When it comes to consumer electronics, the old chestnut “you get what you pay for” is very often extremely applicable. Many discount brands have popped up in the last ten years, and many come and gone, but as the consumer tends to look at their wallet first, and the future a lot later, Vizio is the number one flat panel brand in America.
What most people don’t realize is that once you hit day 366 of ownership, you’re screwed and on your own if your new, very expensive, TV decides to go belly-up, as one of their customers found out the hard way
Vizio’s Florida customer service center confirmed in a phone call that defective set owners are indeed told that their TVs are un-repairable when the failure turns out to be the backlight unit (BLU), which is the light source within all LED and LCD flat panels. Mr. Bertran told HD Guru that according to Vizio, his set’s problem was, indeed, backlight failure. He also stated Vizio offered him a replacement at a discount, however at a price higher than he could get from Vizio’s etailers offering the same model.
Should an under one year old set be deemed un-repairable, Vizio’s warranty policy is to replace it (at their option) with a used, refurbished set they call “Recertified.” An out-of-warranty set becomes an expensive doorstop.
Major brands were contacted to see what their policies were in similar situations, and they all had standard procedures to get your TV fixed, in or out of warranty, or at least offer you a low-cost replacement. A friend of mine recently had issues with his Sony LED TV that was several years old and suffered from a design defect issue. Sony not only took care of him, but when it became obvious it wasn’t worth their time to continue working on it, they offered to upgrade him to a new 3D set at such a low price that it had to be about their cost of manufacture.
Vizio later responded to the piece, claiming that such replacements are “economically impractical”, without actually answering the question of why they don’t offer repair services. If I had to guess, I’d say it has a lot to do with their rock-bottom pricing. Maintaining a service center, parts inventory, and training employees to correctly service and reship the TVs costs a lot of money, as does maintaining mobile housecall techs for sets impractical to ship. What’s cheap and easy is to fill a warehouse with refurbs and swap them out as needed, so that’s apparently what they do. It should be noted that Best Buy’s Insignia brand, which is produced in a similar manner to Vizio, is fully supported by the company in a similar manner to what you would expect from a major brand. While Vizio has certainly improved their quality since the days when stores used to refer to them as “boomerangs” (they go out, and come back defective), when you’re shopping for a new TV, consider how much you’d like to drop another two grand should the set fail and replacement is no longer an option, and factor that gamble into the price.
Via: [HD Guru]
“At VIZIO, customer satisfaction is paramount. Our customer service personnel are instructed to provide consumers with all of their options. VIZIO honors all in-warranty repairs either by replacing parts, or by replacing the unit. Consumers with out-of-warranty units always have the option to replace parts and repair – their decision comes down to cost. When the cost to repair a unit nearly meets, or exceeds the cost of a new unit, Vizio counsels the consumer that it is deemed Beyond Economical Repair. The final decision to repair or replace is at the consumer’s discretion. This extends to panels, backlights or any other component of any VIZIO unit.”