If you have read my post from January 2013 regarding all of the difficulties that I experienced with Element Electronics TVs, here is a follow up post to how the end of that story all worked out.
Back in January of 2013, frustrated with the poor quality of the two 26 inch Element TVs I had purchased, I finally decided to spend a little more and opted for a 32 inch Westinghouse EW32S5KW from Target. I also purchased the 3 year Target Product Protection Plan for the TV at the same time. Unlike the previous Element TVs, the Westinghouse worked great, and for all intents and purposes, the drama of the bedroom TV was over.
Fast forward 618 days, or roughly 8 months, 9 days past the expiration of the original manufacturer's warranty. Turning on the TV resulted in what was obviously some sort of on board diagnostic display, no response to the remote or to the buttons on the case. Searching the net resulted in a few reset ideas, none of which helped in the least. So I dug out the paperwork on the Target Product Protection Plan, and placed a call. Target, as well as many other retailers, use Asurion to service their product protection plans. The technician that I spoke to had me try a completely different reset procedure. Unfortunately, it had no more effect than anything else that I had tried. The technician determined that the TV would have to be sent in for repairs. He explained that they would send out a shipping box, and a prepaid shipping label for the return, which I would receive in a few days. Throughout the entire call the technician was helpful and pleasant, and explained everything quite clearly. I would describe the quality of the service call and the technician's assistance as outstanding.
As promised, in a few days the return shipping box arrived. All I had to supply was the packing tape to seal the carton once the TV was inside. UPS picked up the box two days later, and I waited to hear what would happen next. Four days later I received an email telling me that the TV had made it to the repair center, and was being diagnosed by a technician. Later that same day I received a second email telling me that the repair will require replacement parts, which have been ordered. Once again, I begin to wait to see what happens next. Four days later, I received an email telling me that the needed replacement parts are not available, and that I will be reimbursed for the original purchase price, which will be provided on a Target gift card. I am told that I can expect the card to arrive in 10-14 days. Six days later I received a UPS 2 day envelope with the gift card inside.
Fortunately for me, the prices on 32 inch TVs have come down a bit since January 2013, and apparently September is a great time to buy a TV, since retailers are trying to entice buyers not to wait for those door busting Black Friday deals. The day after the gift card arrived, I visited Target online, and begin to hunt for a replacement. After checking specifications, reviewer's ratings, and availability for in store pick up near me, I selected a Magnavox 32ME303V. Needless to say, I also added the Target Product Protection Plan to the purchase!
A few hours later, the email arrived telling me the TV was ready for pickup, and a few hours after that, I was unboxing the new replacement. It took about 3 weeks, but there is now a brand new fully working TV in the bedroom, and it has an additional extended warranty as well. From one viewpoint, the previous TV cost me less than $45 for 20 months of use, which is the price of the protection plan plus the original sales tax amount. What really worked out nice was that since prices have come down. the refunded amount was enough to pay for the replacement TV, the sales tax, and a new protection plan. To say that I am completely happy with Target's Product Protection Plan would be an understatement from any perspective!
For years I have read that the experts tell us that retailer product protection plans are a waste of money, but I say that this is simply not true at all. Particularly with electronics, which are almost exclusively manufactured overseas with little or no quality control or service/parts infrastructure. Like it or not, we live in a disposable society. When it breaks, we throw it out, and buy a new one. Long gone are the days when the purchase of a new family TV meant you could expect 10, 15, or even 20 years of enjoyment. But then again, look how things have changed. Back in 1967, a 23 inch color TV cost the average household the equivalent of 3-4 weeks pay, almost 1/12 of their annual income. Nearly 50 years later, as Black Friday 2014 approaches, a 46 inch LCD TV can be purchased for roughly the same price, which is equivalent to about a half week's pay for the average household, or less than 1/100th of their annual income. There's no wonder nothing is built to last when things are built so cheaply!
As my experiences with the Element TV products taught me, with some electronics you can consider yourself fortunate if it even works for 30 days, and exceptionally lucky if it works for more than the manufacturer's warranty period. Nowadays buying an extended warranty on offshore produced electronics should be automatic, something you would never NOT consider!
Hats off to Target, the folks at Asurion, and the speed and efficiency of the entire transaction. From breakdown to replacement in 21 days displays that their commitment to customer satisfaction is not just marketing jargon!
(For those that are interested, here is the actual timeline for these events)
Jan 11, 2013 - 32 inch Westinghouse TV and extended warranty purchased at Target
Sept 20th, 2014 - 618 days old, TV quits working, call made to customer service
Sept 24, 2014 - Return Shipping Box/Prepaid Shipping Label Received
Sept 26, 2014 - TV picked up by UPS
Sept 30, 2014 - TV arrives at repair center, diagnosed, replacement parts ordered.
Oct 4, 2014 - Notified that parts are not available, a refund will be sent in 10-14 days.
Oct 10, 2014 - Refund for original purchase price, via Target Gift Card, received
Oct 11, 2014 - New replacement ordered online, picked up locally, set up and working
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