Where’s my replacement TV from Wal-Mart?

Latonya Holloway’s TV stopped working. Good thing she bought the extended warranty from Wal-Mart. Or is it?

Question: I bought a 24-inch Element Electronics TV from Wal-Mart with an extended warranty a year ago. Last month, it stopped working and I couldn’t get a picture on it. I contacted Wal-Mart, and a representative told me to contact Element, because it was still under its manufacturer’s warranty.

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I contacted Element and told them the problem. They told me to fax them the proof of purchase. I did. I received a case number and was told to ship the TV to them, which I did.

I’ve been in contact with Element since then to find out about the status of my TV. I’ve called at least 20 times and I’ve had the same conversation over and over. They ask for my tracking number and they promise to send me a TV.

It’s been a month and a half and I still have not received my TV. I’ve asked to speak to a supervisor several times and they always say they’re in a meeting or not around. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but my TV is still missing in action. Please help me. — Latonya Holloway, Washington

Answer: Your Element TV shouldn’t have broken down after just a year. The average lifespan of a TV is somewhere between 5 and 10 years, although theoretically today’s TVs should last decades.

The two-year extended warranty you purchased at Wal-Mart, called the Wal-Mart Product Protection Plan promises “even more comprehensive coverage than the original manufacturer’s warranty.” For your TV, that meant a longer warranty that covers events such as power surges, mechanical failures, and defects in workmanship.

“This TV service plan gives you two full additional years of worry-free coverage after the manufacturer’s labor warranty expires,” it says, “so you are never left unprotected or paying for protection you already have.”

The fine print of your warranty suggests Wal-Mart was just following procedure when it asked you to send the product back to the manufacturer at your expense. Where it did fall short was in abandoning you after that.

Obviously, your repair request slipped between the cracks at Wal-Mart, and the “extended” warranty certainly implies Wal-Mart will take extra special care of you if something goes wrong with your TV. By your account, both the manufacturer and Wal-Mart lost track of your claim and couldn’t even tell you when you might get your replacement TV. If that’s the extended warranty, I’d hate to see the regular one.

By the way, these purchased warranties are nonsense. Every product should come with a reasonable warranty. And if it doesn’t? Well, remember what the Australian government did to Apple a few weeks ago when it determined its warranties were less than adequate? Maybe we could use a little bit of that here in the U. S. of A., don’t you think?

A brief, polite email to Wal-Mart would have probably done the trick. Here are a few executive contacts at Wal-Mart. By the way, this isn’t the first Wal-Mart problem with an Element TV, which would have been worth noting.

I contacted Wal-Mart on your behalf and it sent you a new TV.

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