I’m getting static about large-screen TVs

February 20 2011 by Ellen Roseman

Some columns get a big response from readers, who tell me that, “I had exactly the same problem,” or “I felt like I was reading my own story.”

That’s when I know I’ve struck a chord, even when the company involved kept insisting that nothing was wrong.

A column about Samsung appliances last month elicited many complaints about large-screen TVs whose defects showed up after the warranty expired — and cost as much to repair as buying a new TV.

So I did a follow-up column on Samsung TVs this weekend, which elicited even more complaints about quality problems.

Samsung Canada, I’m happy to say, responds quickly to media inquiries. Many readers get help with faulty TVs, even if they’ve been turned down flat by the customer service department because they were outside the warranty period.

I found a U.S. law firm that is doing investigations about a possible class action suit about a capacitor problem that leads to delayed start-ups, clicking sounds and an eventual failure to power up the TV altogether. Here’s more information.

TV manufacturers, similar to car makers, are starting to introduce many new models and rush them to market without doing the proper testing.

They deal with customer complaints by covering repair costs under a secret warranty program that only a few people hear about, leaving the rest to cover their own costs or ditch the doorstop altogether.

Please share your experiences about buying new TVs that you hope will last for years and don’t survive long without serious problems.

What happened to Canada’s financial literacy task force?

February 8 2011 by Ellen Roseman

The task force, appointed in June 2009, held hearings across Canada in 2010 and put out a report on what it heard.

Then, everything went quiet.

What took so long? We’ll find out tomorrow when the task force chair, Donald Stewart of Sun Life, talks to the media about the final report. I’m on the list at 11 a.m.

The federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, will likely announce something, too, coming out of the task force’s work.

I have no idea what’s in the report, but I can make a few guesses.

One, the task force will recommend more access to financial information. But will it address the question of demand? There’s lots of information available, but many people don’t engage with it.

Two, the task force will press for more personal finance education in schools, perhaps as young as kindergarten. But education is a provincial role, so the federal government can’t do much except cheer on the sidelines.

Three, the task force will NOT address conflicts of interest. Bankers, investment dealers and insurance brokers promote what’s in their own interests, not what’s in the customer’s interest. From what I could tell, industry conflicts weren’t part of the mandate.

I wish the financial literacy task force hadn’t disappeared and shut down its social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook. It would have been nice to keep the conversation going while waiting to see what comes out of this exercise.

I’ll check in later when I know more about the final report and the finance minister’s reaction.