Around this time last year I purchased my first HD television, a 26 inch Sony KDL 26M3000. And I gotta say....I lurve my HD tee-vee. I've actually watched more basic network tv programs over the past year because I find myself only flipping between channels 501 - 525 now...cuz dem's the HD channels. Four are movie channels...two are PBS...and the rest are just your basic U.S. nets NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC east and west...and Canadian nets CTV, GLOBAL, CITY, and CTV. There's been more than one occasion that I've found myself watching an ep of L&O: Criminal Intent, just because it looks so fine.
Anyway, a few months ago a black line appeared down the right half of the screen or picture panel. Out of the blue. And then the line widened. I looked into the problem...dead pixels. Looked like this:
And as I investigated some more, I learned this is fairly common in LCD televisions. Happens about 30% of the time apparently. Not common to any particular brand, it just happens. New technology I was told. Harrumph. Well that sucks. But no worries, it still should be covered under the manufacturer's one year warranty.
So last week, with the warranty nearly expired, I went to my neighbourhood Best Buy...you know, where I purchased the telly in the first place...to get some direction. Erm...bad idea. I asked the first sales assistant I could find where I should take my television to be fixed, and his response: "Why didn't you get the Best Buy extended service plan?" Um, I just didn't. Again I asked, where's the authorized Sony service dealer in town? He shrugged and said: "Don't think there is one. You're going to have to box it up and ship your television back to Sony. Probably will be gone months. Should've got our extended service plan, man."
Sorry...but you're not helping.
I asked another sales assistant...exact same response. Now I was getting snarky. C'mon...let's move past the fact I didn't get the Best Buy extended service plan, where do I go to get it fixed? Shrug. Still not discouraged, I asked a third sales assistant where the authorized Sony service dealer was in town. "Oh, that'd be Video Refit over on McKara." Thank you! I immediately led this helpful gentleman over to the two other fucktards and had him tell them what he'd told me. It didn't seem to matter, they just stared at him blankly... but I felt better.
So I went home and boxed up my Sony and whisked it over to Video Refit, along with my bill of sale and one year warranty card. They seemed very busy there, but were quite helpful...even though I was the annoying customer with lots of questions: were they going to repair or replace screen/panel? Or were they going to just replace it with a new television since apparently the cost of the panel is the majority of cost of the entire unit? And how were they determine what was going to be done...were they going to assess the dead pixel problem themselves? Or did they have to ship to Sony HQ for them to assess?
All my questions were answered...and panel replacement or television replacement were definitely options. They also said a third option might be a refund or voucher so I could go back to Best Buy and replace my TV that way. But they said give them 7-10 days to figure things out...I nodded but left reluctantly, already missing my HD TV.
A refund/voucher, huh? The wheels in my head started spinning...if I got back the purchase price of what I paid a year ago, I could upgrade to a 32 inch version of same television (since prices have dropped). And not only that, I could get the 1080p model, as opposed to the lowly 720p model I was currently saddled with. I raced back to Best Buy to explore this option. And happily, a former student of mine was working in the TV department that afternoon. So I was able to pick his brain without the annoying "Why didn't you get the service plan?" question.
And here's what I learned.
He guessimated it would be about three months before I saw my TV again....that was his experience with people trying to get items repaired or replaced under manufacturer's warranty. WTF? And as for the second part of my master plan, he said he'd never seen a refund or voucher in lieu of replacement or repair before. Bummer. But most importantly, he said that no North American networks broadcast in 1080p!
I. Did. Not. Know. That.
Read about it here and here and here, but bottom line is that it's a bandwidth issue (networks broadcast HD in 720p or 1080i), so having a 1080p television doesn't mean my HD network shows will look noticeably better. Which begged the question: why spend the extra $ for the 1080p if the best digital HD signal you can receive is 720p (or 1080i, same diff)? Oh sure...your Blu-Ray movies will look better, since they are actually delivering a 1080p signal, but that's pretty much it.
I was glad to discover all this, but a little miffed. I'd always been led to believe that HD tv means 1080p tv, if your television can accommodate it. As it turns out...not so much.
Anyhow, my new best Best Buy pal also informed me 'defect' is open to interpretation when it comes to manufacturer's warranty...and in the case of dead pixels, there's actually a number that have to appear before it's considered defective. It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, but bottom line is that several (up to 10 I believe) random dead pixels on your LCD screen falls into normal use/wear and tear, and not a defect to be repaired or replaced. And he said to make sure the manufacturers warranty covered parts and labour...apparently some don't do both.
I was now muttering and twitching...expecting my TV to not only not get looked at for months, but that then I'd be informed my problem wasn't even 'covered' or I'd have to pay for work done anyway.
At any rate, this television adventure has a happy ending. One that sent me over the Marquee Moon, so to speak.
End of last week, a mere six days after dropping off my Sony, I received a call from the repair shop. Come pick it up, your television is ready. Really? I double-checked to make sure they had the right person....even reading out the number off my ticket stub. Yep...it was mine.
I drove over later that afternoon and was greeted by the manager. Nice fellow. But he immediately launched into a "Oh we're so sorry about how long it took to repair your telly..." I'm confused. Say I'm not complaining. He sighs and explains how many units they get in that need repair and how short-staffed he is...pulls out my invoice and loudly sighs: "Oh c'mon...let's see when you brought your tv in. The 30th....see?", followed by more apologies. I am now really confused. It's okay I say...I'm really not complaining. Then he takes a closer look at my work order...now he looks confused. "This was just last week," he says. I nod. He hustles over to the box containing my tv and checks the ticket stub number. "Wow," he says, "Did you really bring it in last week?" Again, I nod.
Now he's shaking his head and reviews the work order --- they'd looked at it the day after I'd dropped it off, determined enough pixels were dead to warrant repair, sent the evidence to Sony HQ (they have to take pictures and list specs apparently), the new panel arrived two days later, they took out the 'defective' one and replaced it with the new one, and then called me.
He told me I should buy a lottery ticket, because in all his days he'd never seen one go through the system that fast. Nevertheless, I still had him turn mine on, just to make sure it was working properly. It was. I thanked him, signed the completed work order, and humped my Sony out to the car and home again.
And the warranty covered everything.
Thus endeth my television adventure. In and out in six days..the way it should be. Nice.
As for the other Television Adventure, that's another post for another time...when the topic is brilliant but unsung new wave bands from the late '70's.