When did the warranty on my TV expire? We can’t agree!

Question: Two years ago, we purchased a Vizio television based on the excellent reviews it received and affordable price. One week before the warranty expired, a vertical red line appeared on the screen. We called customer service and were walked through the process of discharging the static build up.

When we were done, the line was gone and we thought our problem was solved. It wasn’t.

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Within a few months, the line had not only reappeared, but there were several more as well. Nothing would make them go away. For a while, they came and went, but eventually there were lines on the screen whenever the television was on.

We called customer service again and explained that this problem began before the warranty expired, but were told that since we were now out of the warranty period Vizio would not take responsibility for the problem we were having with this television.

Now, a year later, there is a one-inch column on our television screen that looks like a rainbow. It is there the entire time the television is on, whether we are watching cable, a DVD, or using a game system. We feel that since this problem started before the warranty expired, Vizio should cover the full expense of repairing or replacing this television set. — Jennifer Mason, Columbia, SC

Answer: Vizio should have repaired your TV when the first line appeared. When the DIY fix didn’t take, the manufacturer should have allowed you to send the device back under its limited one-year warranty.

The warranty, which is available online, specifically covers “defects in materials and workmanship” – which this obviously was.

Your problem is too common. A quick online search reveals other users have had the identical problems and non-resolutions. In some of the cases, Vizio tried to sell them a more expensive replacement TV instead of taking care of the defective product.

This appears to be a timing issue. Vizio’s records show the TV failed after your warranty expired, even though its symptoms first appeared before then. It’s happened to me with a more well-known technology company named after a popular fruit. I had a large black line appear on my laptop computer shortly before my warranty expired; by the time it was permanent, the product was out of warranty.

In my case, the manufacturer would not help – despite it reputation for superior customer service. I didn’t want the same thing to happen to you.

I think the way in which Vizio chose to interpret its contract is self-serving and does little to help its customer-service cred. I note that you contacted the company in writing, appealing to an executive. Good move, and it should have worked. You might try at the front door – here’s the link – since those customer emails are assigned a tracking number, and there’s less of a chance they’ll slip between the cracks.

I contacted Vizio on your behalf. It offered you a refurbished, upgraded TV for $150 – not the resolution you were hoping for, but better than having a TV you can’t use.

39 thoughts on “When did the warranty on my TV expire? We can’t agree!

  1. I have not seen a “discount” company not try to weasel their way out of the a warranty in a long time. Its a sad state of affairs. I used to think companies engineer their products to break after a certain amount of time so that customers would have to buy a new one, but they probably aren’t willing to spend the money on that much engineering. Now I think they make them as cheaply as possible that they will last until the warranty expires.
    I agree that if the problem started before the warranty expired and this is part of the same problem, they should cover it. I would not be surprised if they people on the phone are trained to talk their way out of the warranty until its too late.

  2. This is a discount company selling cheap electronics. It’s not surprising that they won’t simply take a customer’s word for it when they state it broke before the warranty expired when they are called months afterwards.

    You buy cheap, you buy twice.

    1. Actually, Consumer Reports brand reliability ratings say Vizio makes pretty decent TVs. They’re far from being the worst brand in terms of repairs and are ahead of some brands who aren’t known as discount manufacturers.

      The best on their list (Panasonic) comes in at 2% of models having problems. Vizio is with a whole bunch of other brands at 4%, with the worst brand (Westinghouse) coming in at 8%.

      1. I’ve had the same Vizio TV for 4+ years with absolutely no problems. In fact, I’d call it a much better TV than my much more expensive Toshiba. Anecdotal evidence, whether good or bad, is not worth much unless taken in aggregate– like Consumer Reports does.

        1. Same here. My old Vizio is still running great. I bought it from Costco before they changed their return policy. I would not buy a TV from anyone else. Also I understand these things do not last more than 5 years, maybe?

  3. I’m a quality engineer by training… I wouldn’t agree with Chris’s statement that this failure was obviously due to “defects in materials and workmanship” and occurred prior to the end of the warranty period. If it was, it wouldn’t have gone away for a “few months.” This could be a completely different failure and unrelated to the first. If the first fix hadn’t worked for “months,” I might feel differently.
    Glad she got something out of it.

    1. Well if you shake an almost empty ink cartridge it will last a bit longer but it doesn’t solve the problem at hand. I am doubtful it is a different failure considering it was the EXACT SAME line that appeared and then got worse. If something is fixed/repaired correctly it doesn’t fall apart a mere few months later.

      1. 1. If you shake a printer cartridge, it works for a day or two not months and that is an expendable printer resource not a fixed part.
        2. There’s no way to know if it was the “EXACT SAME line” or just a line that showed up in a similar spot.
        This is closer to … Your car won’t start so you take it to a mechanic who tells you that the battery cable is loose and tightens it. Car works fine for two months. Two months later your car won’t start again and you scream at the mechanic for not fixing the first time only to find out that you left your door open and drained the battery.
        Exact same failure mode two different root causes

        1. @twitter-18027975:disqus

          I have to admit some skepticism with your analogy. A car won’t start for any number of commonly occurring reasons. In your analogy there is nothing specific about the symptom nor location.

          But say I hear a grinding noise from the driver side front wheel on my car and get it repaired. Next week the same noise reappears in the same location, I’m going to believe the mechanic screwed up and I wouldn’t not expect to pay for a subsequent repair unless the mechanic can articulate to me with specificity that this is a different problem.

          Similarly, If a different line appeared in a different spot, I’d be with you. But the exact same line reappeared in the same spot. Is it conclusively proven that its the same root cause? Not at all. However, absent further information, is it more likely than not that its the same problem? It seems yes. I would place the onus on the manufacturer to show that its not the same problem as before.

          1. @facebook-1284012132:disqus The crux of the issue is the time frame… If the OP makes the report, does the fix and it fails again the next week, as you put in your example, I’d agree that its probably the same issue but that isn’t what occurred in this case. By the OPs own admission, it was “a few months” (more than 2) that the second issue occurred. Vizio TVs have a 1 year warranty so this would be at least a 25% extension of the warranty. For me, this entire case swings on the timing of events. The failure occurs again right after she called the first time, its probably a continuation of the first event. Months later … not so much. To take this to the extreme, what if the line appeared a few years later? Is it still covered?

            Edit: Also… One can assume that the same repair process they gave her the first time didn’t work the second (degaussing the TV). If the same repair didn’t work again, why would you assume the same underlying cause?

          2. I also agree that this case swings on the timing of events. If we were talking a mechanical situation like the car, something with moving parts, three months would be sufficient that I would not necessarily presume that its the same problem. Too many intervening events.

            However, as you know, probably better than I, a television is solid state technology. Accordingly, I do not find 2 or 3 months to be an unreasonably long time for the same error to resurface.

            The length of the warranty has no bearing on whether its the same problem or not.

          3. Devil’s advocate talking here… How would I know it’s the EXACT same line in the EXACT same spot? It’s been months since I saw the line and the last time there was a single line while now there are several. I’d certainly know one of the new lines is in the general vicinity of the old one, but unless the old one lined up perfectly with a button or something else on the TV frame, it’d be awfully hard to know for sure it was in the exact same place.

            I agree with John Baker’s post where he says the timing is everything. A “few” months is quite a while in a situation like this. If they had replaced a part and the problem came back I’d say the same part had likely went bad again. But their fix was something the owner was able to do; they didn’t actually repair anything. If it had been truly “broken” the first time, it’s unlikely the user fix would have worked at all, let alone for several months. Conversely, if it were static build-up again a few months later, the user fix should have worked that time, too. Thus, I think it likely it was two separate problems.

          4. The question of whether it’s the exact same line or merely one within a statistically insignificant distance is at best a red herring. What you are missing is that a static buildup is not a cause but rather, much like a headache, a symptom of an underlying cause.

            Without knowing this underlying cause we can only speculate on why the “cure” worked once but not a second time. Its the same thing as medicine which worked once, but no longer works because the underlying problem has gotten worse.

        2. John,
          As someone not familiar with how TV’s are built, how is it possible to have a static build-up when most consumer electronics have some sort of grounding in them?
          Would that build-up, by default, mean that the grounding isn’t working?

  4. How can this customer expect to be covered by a warranty which they know is expired? I don’t see how the “problem began before warranty expiration” can hold any water – they called support and the problem was apparently resolved to their satisfaction by the date the warrenty expired. The problem came back again later – if my car tires are replaced, if a tire fails shortly before a warranty finishes I’ll ask the shop to honor the warranty and fix it, if they do and then a tire fails again after the warranty period then I can’t expect it to be covered by an expired warranty. I may choose to never to business with a shoddy repair shop again, but I don’t have any standing to demand they honor an expired warranty.

    1. That’s not true. If its considered the same repair then its covered. Many legitimate businesses will articulate a time frame by which a future problem is considered the same repair.

      I purchased a super cheap computer once. It failed one week before the warranty expired. I got a ticket number. They told me that the ticket was good for 30 days. As long as I sent it to them within 30 days the warranty would be honored. I got distracted and sent it in two weeks after the warranty expired. They fixed it without any fuss.

      Then, they told me to keep the ticket number because even though the warranty period had expired, if the same issue reappeared with “x” days, that specific repair would be covered.

      Good customer service. I wish VIZIO would do the same.

      1. I agree with most of your post. I think my real problem stems from the phrase used, “Within a few months, the line…”; within 30 days (as you mention) if the line had reappeared, even after warranty period expired, I can see their point of view. BUT since it states “a few months” – I don’t see how they can expect the warranty to continue to cover the product. Electronic life spans are measured better in months than years, so a few month time period is a looong time in the life of an electronic product.

  5. I worked for Samsung for a while. They, in situations like this, will often do a “Silent recall”.. When there’s a common problem, they will offer a one-time ‘courtesy’ repair at no cost, even if the unit is out of warranty. The problem is.. 9 times out of 10, they replace it with the same crappy part (Look up a ‘dots’ issue on Samsung DLP TVs) and when it fails AGAIN, you’re paying for it, or, more likely, replacing the TV with another brand.

    It does give the warm and fuzzies to the customer for a while. Until the same problem comes back. The problem is.. You wind up with someone who reads the internet, and finds that their TV has a ‘common’ problem where the power supply fails. And the TV is 10 years old. Doesn’t matter if there’s a common failure at that age. And yes.. You would have people with a 10 year old TV wanting it fixed under warranty because they “read on the internet that this happens on alot of TVs”. No sympathy for those folks.

    For the above… Vizio should at least cover the part.. Customer covers the labor. Technically the customer is out of warranty, BUT.. Vizio likely has some responsibility as well. I think a split cost offer along those lines would be acceptable.. Though I do lean more towards the customer being right in this case since they did report the problem prior to the warranty expiring. An exception to the warranty would probably be the RIGHT thing to do, however, you also have to make the warranty terms mean something. There’s a fine balance between standing by the product and enforcing the terms of the warranty.

  6. I’m a long time user of the computer company named after a record label (same as your ‘fruit’ analogy) and geek reader of blogs.
    This company does have an excellent, and well earned, reputation for covering repairs out of warrant, which started during the warranty period. You should protect yourself the same as you would one of your readers, and push it further.
    Yes, they have some employees that are not helpful, and that can be intimidating, but I think you’ll get satisfaction if you push.
    Good luck, Rick

  7. The warranty states in relevant part, “If a Product covered by this warranty is determined to be defective
    within the warranty period, VIZIO will either repair or replace the unit
    at its sole option and discretion.” The ambiguity is the word “determined.” Who makes the determination? When is that determination made? The answers to these questions are not clear. Ms. Mason likely made her determination that a defect existed at the time she made the first telephone call. On the other hand, Vizio likely made its determination that a defect might exist not until after the end of the warranty period. One of the canons of contract construction is that ambiguities in contract language are construed against the drafter of the contract. In this case, the application of that canon would favor Ms. Mason, as she made the determination that a defect existed within the warranty period.

  8. Did he use a credit card to purchase the TV? Most credit cards extend the company’s warranty by one year or double the original warranty, depending on the type of card. Many people forget about this benefit of their credit card.

  9. “Within a few months, the line had not only reappeared, but there were several more as well.”
    ____________________

    I definitely see the customer’s side of this, but that statement implies to me this may not have been the exact same problem. Lines appearing on a screen can come from more than one cause. The static discharge fix worked for several months the first time, but didn’t work at all the next time. That would seemingly point to it being a different problem.

  10. I had a power supply go out on my Vizio tv a few years back, and I was within the warranty period! I had lost the sales receipt, so went to Wal-Mart and requested a reprint (if you know the day of purchase, or purchased it with a card the service desk can do this). Vizio would not accept that because it was not an “original” receipt! After about 2 weeks without a tv, and a daily call from Vizio with me explaining the situation, every day I got the same answer “Wel will send you a prepaid return box, and take care of this,” next day, I need a copy of the receipt, and we go through the same thing again! Having done my share of work for Wal-Mart, they care about customer service, and so I called their corporate offices! Later that day, I returned the tv, got a huge apology from the store manager who had also contacted Vizio for me and received the same response, and the manager actually upgraded me to a larger TV at no cost to me! The service is one reason I do business with Wal-Mart. Their corporate philosophy is what they call the sundown rule, “never leave a customer with a problem. Always take care of the customer before the sun sets!”

  11. In today’s world of mass produced electronics, some are going to fail. You must prepare and / or expect this to happen. The Contracts today are contracts with no mercy. If something is going wrong, then turn it in today, don’t hesitate until it gets worse. Note the warranty expiration dates, to keep up with them. The days of buying a tube for a quick fix are gone. It only takes a lightning strike up the block and bye bye TV. A power out with a surge turn on, Bye Bye. I now own 2 Vizio TVs, a 32 inch and a 55 IN 3D; one from Sam’s Club, the other from Costco. Both offered me CHEAP extended warrantied thru an outside vendor. Costco was $99.00 for a total of 5 years. I have the same service on my cell phone and IPAD, have used it with Square Trade, with 3 day turn around service. Visio customer service did more than I would have. What is too late after the warranty – 2 days, 3 weeks, 5 months? I think it is black and white.

    1. Speaking of Costco reminds me of a situation I once had. I had purchased a VCR (pre-DVD days!) from Costco (can’t remember the brand, but it was a nationally known one). The unit failed after the warranty expired, so I thought I was out of luck. I found the broken part that needed to be replaced, but no one could get me just the part alone – it came with additional pieces that I did not need. And to take it in for repairs would have cost more than a new one! Anyway, I brought it back to Costco, with the box, papers, and receipt, in hopes that they could somehow get me just the one part I needed to fix it with. They said they probably could NOT get the part, but they then decided to give me a FULL refund for my unit. What a surprise that was! I then turned around and bought an identical VCR from them, and to this day, I still have it (somewhere!!). BTW, I finally got out of the DARK AGES and upgraded to a DVD.

        1. Appears in IE 9 every day. If I click on one of the comments shown in the “What’s Everyone Talking About” column inside an actual article, as opposed to the home page where that same inset is shown, some rotten ad shows up. This week it’s been the “Lower My Bills” set of ads. Only happens once a day, though.

  12. Good luck getting the credit card company to honor their warranty anymore than Visio has. I’m still trying to get my credit card to honor their warranty on a phone I bought recently. According to the credit card company, they sent the paperwork I needed to fill out to file a claim but, surprise, surprise, I never received it. Gonna keep trying but I don’t have high hopes that they won’t mysteriously lose said paperwork when I return it.

    1. I have had luck with mine. Now I haven’t use the benefit for awhile so I would hope that they have advanced with the times and allow submission by email with scanned receipts, etc.

  13. Go for the upgraded model! The $150 is a deal especially if the newer unit has higher resolution .Be sure the upgrade has at least a 90 day warranty.

  14. Different take on this issue. Vizio makes great TV’s for the price level there sold at and they work great. This has made them #1 in consumer screens. All manufacturers have their engineers design the TV’s for a specific life cycle. Usually about 4-5 hours a day. This allows them to use less expensive power supplies than displays used in commercial applications. This is why most, but not all commercial monitors to have larger frames with lots of perforations for cooling. There is a problem in that many home sets are used for commercial 12/7 or more hours of operation requiring larger power supplies and ugly bezels for cooling and support. Having represented many TV/display manufacturers, they are always concerned that a home TV was used in a commercial or high usage location. That is one reason why they are such sticklers on warranty claims. Sounds like a non issue but I’ve experienced a lot of warranty claims by end users who failed to read the terms of the warranty.
    A lot of home sets fail because of insufficient cooling which can cause the display transistors to fail showing white/black pixels or dead lines on the display. Just some observations for conversation..

    1. If the manufacturers are designing TVs for the US market with the expectation of only 4-5 hours of daily use, they have not done their homework.

      1. If you think about it, most houses have the TV on after school from 5:00 till about 10:00 or 11:00 Monday through Friday. Many people don’t use the TV (other than Saturday morning cartoons) on weekends as other activities take place. Now if we were talking about computer monitors, that would be a different subject. Some Studies show that kids now spend more time viewing computer and phone screens than traditional TV.
        Power supplies are heavy hot and expensive. Manufacturers are not going to spend any more than they need to in order to work for a reasonable time. Reasonable time has shrunk considerable given Moor’s Law and the new higher resolution devices. Anyone want to spend $26,000 this Christmas for a new 4K HD TV???

        1. you forgot to add in the time during the day for the soap operas. And even given the usage given, a buffer needs to be added for the outlying cases.

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