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.