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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 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 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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By jiffylube1000 on 5/17/2011 7:59:18 PM , Rating: 2
I will start by saying that I sympathize with the article's author. 3 1/2 years is really too short for a TV to last, and I would feel a bit ripped off if that happened to me too.

With that said, you really need to do your homework when buying a new TV. When buying a Plasma TV in 2007, an extended warranty (3-5 years) was a must - there was already strong evidence of burn-in issues on Plasma TV's, and user complaints of Plasma TV's of that era not lasting very long. Plasma TV's of that era were hot, power sucking monsters and it's not really until the "neo-PDP" panels of Panasonic in 2009 that you start seeing Plasma Televisions with much lower power consumption and higher rated lives. Since ~2006 I've loved Samsung's LCD panels but I much preferred Panasonic for Plasma. It's only very recently that the power consumption of Samsung Plasmas has come down, and I'd still go with Panasonic as a more reputable Plasma brand. Samsung is great for LCD, though, especially their 6-series and above.

Plasma was generally cheaper than LCD in 2007; however the flipside was that reliability wasn't particularly noteworthy. My family went with a 52" Toshiba DLP TV in 2005. After reading reviews, we felt that an extended warranty was a must. We went with a 4 year extended warranty. Sure enough, the TV became very dim after a couple of years, and in addition to a new bulb, needed a new light engine and colour wheel. These were covered by the extended warranty. The DLP was thousands cheaper than a comparable Plasma or LCD, but had we not bought that extended warranty, it needed $1000 in parts after only two years.

To the comment "I'll never buy another Samsung again" - that attitude is absurd in the consumer electronics field. Everyone has had a bad experience with one brand or another. Read professional and reader reviews online before buying your product, and really taking a trip to a forum like avsforums.com to look up issues on a specific model of TV could save you a lot of time and aggravation down the road.

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When I bought my current TV - a 46" Samsung LN46B630, for about a grand a year and a half ago - I felt that the LCD technology had matured enough that an extended warranty wasn't necessary anymore; even if the TV died in 3 years, the $100-200 spent on an extended warranty would be better served as part of a new 46" LCD, which would probably be around $500 by that time anyway.




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