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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 Badcaps.net 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
(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
quote: Never had a problem with Samsung.