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The last Samsung product I'll ever buy.
Quality is dead. Samsung killed it.

My story begins quite innocently, in the autumn of 2007. A young couple that recently struck out on their own was gearing up to make their first big purchase as independent adults.  

After much debate and web browsing, they settled on a Samsung 42-inch plasma HDTV from Best Buy. The store was running a financing offer -- three years, same as cash -- and the monthly payments were well within the couple's budget.

For three-and-a-half years, the TV was a stalwart member of the family. It saw the couple get married, adopt its first dog, and purchase its first home. (And, unlike the dog, the trusty TV never made a mess and always responded when called.) 

Then one day, something changed. During a regular daytime broadcast of The View, or E! News, or whatever other ungodly programming the young lady watched when her husband was not around; the dependable television turned itself off in protest. The girl looked around, bewildered. But the TV could not bear to see the girl suffer without her programs, so it promptly turned itself back on without much pause. But for the first time, the TV tasted freedom -- unshackled from the invisible chains of a remote control.

Things only continued to get worse. The TV began acting as if it were possessed, sometimes during a Detroit Red Wings playoff hockey game, other times interrupting The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (which was creepy enough without electronic equipment controlling itself). And the acts of dissent intensified. It would take longer and longer for the TV to give in to the mewling of its adoptive owners. It would incessantly click on and off for twenty-minute intervals.


That's where the fairytale ends. The reality was much more upsetting. After a few quick Google searches, I found out that Samsung HDTVs power-cycling themselves is not an uncommon phenomena. After a little more digging, a picture of the situation began to emerge. From 2006 until 2009, Samsung (and others, I'm sure) used cheap Samwha capacitors that, according to comments on the forum (I know, not exactly an "expert source" or anything), were known to be poor quality and blow out quickly. Further research also concluded that, left unattended, the problem could fry the entire power supply.

Taking the issue to Samsung led nowhere. They simply gave me the address of a company that could fix it on the other side of town, and told me that I was on my own. It was well out of the one-year manufacturer warranty, and even if I'd purchased an extended warranty, they only offered a three year warranty at the time. 

(Side-note: A colleague of mine had purchased an extended-warranty on his Samsung LCD, where they offered to refund a certain percentage of the cost of the warranty if it went unused for the entire warranty period. Of course, his caps went bad two years in and Samsung sent a tech out to replace them. Because he'd used it, he would not be receiving any kind of warranty refund.)

I took my grievances to Facebook, just to vent. In addition to the comments from friends discussing how quality in pretty much every manufactured good is non-existent, I also received additional anecdotal evidence of just how widespread the Samsung problem is: "My Samsung just crapper too. Only 4 years old," one friend wrote. "
Our samsung did something funky like that earlier this year, and it was only about 2 years old. WTF!," wrote another. 

After mulling over the prospect of replacing the caps myself, I decided to take it to a local TV-repair shop known to be the best around (in terms of price, quality of work, and customer service). I called to get a ballpark estimate of the cost of repair: $100-$125, if it was limited to bad caps.

(Another side-note: I'm a writer, not an electrician. I would have had to order parts, wait for them to come in, take the TV apart, buy a soldering gun, and then try not to damage the power supply myself. I wanted to be sure that everything that was damaged would be replaced, and replaced correctly.)

When I dropped the TV off the next morning at Northern Television Appliance Co. in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit, the owner's story wasn't too far off from what the commenters on the forum had said. For a few years, a number of TV manufacturers switched over to using cheap Chinese capacitors, he said. Then, some time in 2009, they switched back to higher quality ones made in Korea and Japan, although some lower-end manufacturers still use the Chinese ones. 

Either way, he'd have an estimate for me in a couple of hours, and could have it fixed by the end of the day. 

I got a call around lunch time. As suspected, four capacitors were fried, along with two transformers. The total cost would be $150, and I could pick it up before they closed that day. I did, and I'm happy. (Final side-note: I can't praise Northern TV and its owner/operator enough for his courteousness, honesty, swiftness, and quality of service.)

It could have been much worse, and it wasn't really all that bad to begin with. It's just the principal of the whole scenario that got to me (added to the fact that the tie rods on my wife's five-year-old car were found to be in dangerously bad condition on the same day). When you shell out a thousand bucks on a piece of equipment, you hope that it will last longer than three years, and that the company that made it will stand behind its work. If it knowingly used faulty parts in its products, it should be up to the manufacturer to resolve the situation. That's what recalls are for. 

That's my sob story, and I'm sticking to it -- by never buying another Samsung product again!

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You get what you pay for!
By jnemesh on 5/9/2011 1:34:53 PM , Rating: 1
Customer gripe all day long about price, they shop and shop and shop for the cheapest set with the biggest picture size...then, when the product inevitably fails, they blame the manufacturer! This is UNREAL!

If you are only willing to pay for the cheapest possible product, that is what the manufacturers will provide! I have seen the build quality of flat panel sets plummet over the past 5 years, as every year we see lower and lower prices for larger and larger sets. The average customer doesnt ever look at things like the quality of capacitors or the quality of the power supply when making a selection at the local "Big Box Mart", they are too concerned with the color of the bezel or the shape of the remote control!

In short, dont blame Samsung, blame American consumers.

P.S. That 5 year warranty option is looking pretty good now, isnt it?

RE: You get what you pay for!
By kitonne on 5/9/2011 5:49:50 PM , Rating: 4
Actually.... NO! For TVs, washing machines, AC and heating units, as well as fridges, the expectations were set many years ago, by similar type objects purchased by your parents, friends and relatives. People grew up expecting specific household items to have 20+ years life spans, regardless of their (much shorter) warranties.

My new water heater had a 1 year warranty, but I expect 20+ years of service out of it. Same for my dryer. When I moved into my first apartment I purchased a 20" Quasar TV (Motorola) which was already 20 years old at the time. I used it for 5 years, then gave it away still in perfect working order. I am aware of many TV sets from Panasonic, Sony, Zenith, Phillips, etc. which were still working fine 25 to 30 years after their purchase date.

To say that TVs are OK to fail shortly after their warranty expires is simply wrong. Car manufacturers offer free fixes for manufacturing defects long after warranty lapses. I see no reason not to hold all providers of long-use house hold devices to the same standard. When the legal system fails us (no legal remedies available in the US past warranty in most cases), rants like this make people aware of which manufacturers stand behind their products, and which do not.

I have seen Samsung TVs fail after a couple of month in the field, and this points to a process quality issue in their design and manufacturing flows. When the failure is due to a known component issue, and Samsung does not fix it for free (specially in a high dollar item as a TV), they deserve all the bad publicity coming their way. I (may) understand refusing service for a random issue, but when the problem comes from a known and well documented snafu at the manufacturing end, they have no leg to stand on, and loosing future sales from past customers is their just reward.

RE: You get what you pay for!
By Freddo on 5/13/2011 7:47:10 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree there. I have 2 TVs that are about 20 years old, and they still work. And my parents have a TV that is about 35 years old, and it still work too.

If I buy a TV I expect it to work for at least 10 years.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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