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.

19 comments

  1. PL

    Feb 20 2011

    Our 2 year warranty on our Samsung L750 expired in December.

    In the past 2 weeks, our screen has started to need to “warm up,” which means it has lines across it, and has distortion, for anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

    Then the other night, it started to “shudder”. As we were watching TV, areas of it blacked out in a sweeping motion, every couple of minutes, occasionally.

    Any suggestions on how to handle the situation with Samsung?

  2. TC

    Feb 20 2011

    We bought a 52 inch series 750 Samsung LCD TV. A few months after purchasing it, the mother board crashed, which Samsung replaced under the 12 month warranty.

    Shortly after the warranty expired, the same mother board crashed again. Samsung refused to replace it until after numerous phone calls to their customer service department.

    We based our decision on initially purchasing this TV after reading the positive reviews reported by Consumer Reports in their monthly magazine.

  3. TB

    Feb 20 2011

    I purchased my 46” Sony Bravia TV with my TD/CT points October 15, 2009.

    Within a few months, coloured vertical lines appeared in the middle of the screen.

    Over time they multiplied and what looks like a “small spider web” at the bottom also appeared.

    I called Sony customer service several times and spent at least 5 hours with their reps reviewing when I bought, what was the problem, etc.

    I finally sent them an email with a picture of the problem.

    They sent out their technician local to my area and he literally came in, turned on the TV, saw the spider web and lines and packed up his tool box saying “someone has cracked the screen and Sony is not responsible”.

    He was in and out within about 3 minutes.

    I live alone and when my grandchildren visit, they don’t touch the TV. I’ve never moved positions of the TV since it was set up after the delivery.

    I called Sony back and got nowhere. I still have the lines and spider web because, after much research on the internet and phone calls to service people, I was told it will cost $800 for the screen plus labour to install.

    I don’t have that in my budget, so I’ve been watching my brand new Sony Bravia with lines ever since.

    Are you aware of any other people who have had Sony Bravia issues and is there anything you can do to help?

  4. PC Technician

    Feb 20 2011

    I am a PC technician with 9 years experience and I have recently entered the world of LCD monitor repair as well as some big screen TV’s.

    Just recently I repaired my neighbour’s 42″ Toshiba set. She had only had it for 2 years when suddenly one day it just wouldn’t turn on.

    She had been quoted as much as $600 to repair it. I told her that’s nuts. She asked me to look at it, so I did and I found the problem and quickly fixed it, and for far less than $600.

    The problem is these days, not many technicians want to get involved with component level repair. They’d rather just swap a board out with another one.

    The problem with that: The new board also has components of inferior quality so it will just fail again.

    Additionally, most technicians don’t have the specialized test equipment that I do.

    It’s because of this test equipment that I have been able to repair most electronics when other technicians just throw their hands up in frustration.

    Yes, it’s possible for the LCD or Plasma screen to go bad. It does happen but it’s rare.

    I’m not saying I am able to fix every monitor or TV out there because sometimes you just can’t.

    Sometimes a logic chip has gone bad and in that case there is nothing I can do about that.

    However the majority of big screen TV’s can be cheaply repaired in the $100-$200 area.. the TV manufacturers don’t want the general public to know that.

  5. MM

    Feb 20 2011

    Unlikely it’s a true screen problem, but it does happen. Lines on the screen are most likely a screen problem but not necessarily – hard to pin it down without access to a replacement T-Con board < timer control board (eBay).

    Otherwise, the problem is generally a blown cap in the power board. These can sometimes be spotted but not always.

    Problem is due to poor heat dissipation (Panasonic was supposed to be superior re: heat dissipation).

    Important to check your boards before you settle in too comfortably with your expensive set. (Otherwise I get to keep them when I see them put out in the trash) : )

    A machine picks and places the components onto the circuit board. Tiny little surface mount resistors can be mis-soldered or missing in their entirety.

    The set might still work but there is undue "electrical strain" occurring (read: overheating / blown power capacitors).

    So replacing the power caps might breath some life back into your set .. but it might just be a temp fix.

    With the problem really finding footing with a missing smt resistor. Or a cold solder joint (poor soldering).

    First order of business when you bring your nice new tv home .. tear off the back .. unscrew the various boards and with a magnifying glass and dental pick go over the back – side of each board examining for classic soldering issues and outright ommissions.

    Generally there is a piece of guck where the missing mini-resistor should be .. as this bit of industrial guck prevented the proper placement of the missing smt resistor/capacitor.

    Mass soldering is tricky business (wave soldering) and always requires fine-tooth comb inspection and touch up.

    http://cgi.ebay.ca/Repair-Kit-Protron-PLTV-3250-LCD-TV-Capacitors-/180624068121?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0e088e19

    These electrolytic caps can be a bit tricky to remove and replace as the factory solder has a much higher melting point than hobbyist solder .. a hot soldering iron is req'd as well as good soldering tricks of the trade (add hobbyist solder to the plugged hole to lower the melting point and allow you to insert the (sanded clean) cap leads).

    That's about the short and the long of it .. there are defective screens out there .. they're surprisingly easy to replace – hopefully they've addressed the defect (in the replacement screen).

    Sony 32m3000 had a slow motion blur issue that was pinned down to the circuits found in the encapsulated ribbon cables that feed the screen.

    So although the screen itself is ok – an integrated feed component is at fault .. too bad .. got to replace the screen / ribbon cable assembly complete.

  6. PW

    Feb 20 2011

    I have a Toshiba 32AV500U that I bought in 2008 for $900. Shortly after getting it (the next week), my TV would start up and there would be no picture but there was audio.

    Usually if you restarted the TV, this would self-resolve but as time went on it became more and more frequent and the TV would have to be restarted many times.

    While I was still in my warranty (1st year), I called Toshiba and they ‘regretfully’ couldn’t offer any advice or offer me a solution to this problem as they had never heard of it, they said. So I lived with it.

    The last summer (when it was out of warranty), the picture went completely and wouldn’t ever come on.

    I had to take the TV to an outside tech who replaced the inverter board and casually mentioned that this was a known issue with this TV.

    I checked the Toshiba website and sure enough it HAD become a known issue. Toshiba was offering an extended warranty (an extra year) because of this, so the issue had been acknowledged.

    I called Toshiba and pointed out that I had originally called during my warranty (even with the extension I was just out of warranty) period.

    I pointed out I had had to pay a tech myself to fix (sort of, it still required restarts) the issue. I told them I had paid a lot of $ for a doorstop with sound.

    They said they would investigate. They called eventually to tell me they had decided NOT to replace or offer me another model at a discount.

    I will never buy another Toshiba product in my life. I advised them of this but they weren’t concerned.

    In my case, Toshiba had NO customer service and in fact it felt like they were saying ‘tough luck’.

  7. DG

    Feb 20 2011

    I put together materials from my Samsung experience 2 years ago. The product details are as follows:

    Samsung LCD 32″ TV
    Model # LN-S3241D
    Model code LNS3241DX/XAA
    Serial # AEHT3CQL700939T

    My issues with Samsung are outlined in the following letter I sent to them in February 2009 after a few months’ ordeal. I attached a copy of the letter of their email back to me.

    Feb. 2009 complaint email:

    *************************

    Hello, I just wanted to let Samsung know how disappointed my wife and I are with our 32′ LCD tv that we bought in September 2006 for around $1,500 CAD + tax.

    It worked fine until September 2008, at which time it started showing permanent and progressive large white snowy banding across the screen.

    This progressed over 2 months at which time it became unwatchable. When we called Samsung, the service people said that it was out of the 1 year warranty period and to take it to a repair shop.

    We took it to Humphrey’s Repair Centre, 167 Dupont St., Toronto. They told us that it needed a new mainboard for around $300 and installation would require $120.

    Since prices had fallen, we decided it wasn’t worth it and bought a brand new LG 32′ LCD for $479.

    We are very disappointed that this TV was basically disposable after 2 years and Samsung did nothing for us. Also, the environmental impact of these disposable TVs is significant. Our old Sony CRT has be flawless for 15 years.

    Please forward this letter as high up in Samsung Canada as possible

    *************************

    The response I got from their customer service (which they call “LIMITLESS SUPPORT”) was the following on Feb. 16, 2009:

    ************************

    Thank you for submitting your inquiry to Samsung.

    Please note that since your unit is no longer under warranty, no decision can be made at this time.

    Your email will be forwarded to our Repair Tracking Department for follow-up. Should they be able to assist you further, one of our agents will contact you.

    —————————————————————————————————————
    This feedback is greatly appreciated as it will help us become more effective with our initiatives in improving customer service.

    If additional support is required please use one of the links below:

    http://www.samsung.com/ca/support/main/supportSupportMain.do

    ***********************************

    Needless to say I was never contacted by anyone else at Samsung. When I tried to escalate the problem to a higher level, they completely stonewalled.

  8. Ray

    Feb 21 2011

    I had the capacitor issue in my Samsung 40″. I reported it to Samsung and they had a local (Vancouver) repair shop come out with two guys to my house and repaired it within a couple weeks. I was very satisfied that it didn’t cost me a dime – although they were careful in stating that if it wasn’t the capacitor issue then I would pay (fair enough).

  9. Dave E

    Feb 22 2011

    I have been attempting to email Samsung over the last 2 weeks to inquire about having them honour the same terms and conditions of a Class Action Lawsuit Award in New Jersey, involving the DLP Televisions that experienced a Light Tunnel issue.

    Samsung has agreed to reimburse or extend the warranties of Americans who have the HL-P, HL-R, HL-S and select HL-T models.

    I have an HL-R model, which has had a warranty extension until Oct. 11, 2011.

    Initially, I called the hotline #, only to find they are only honouring U.S. customers and was referred to the Canadian #. There, I was told Samsung would do nothing for me.

    Their call centre did not transfer me to anyone higher up in management who could perhaps help. They have no email address or complaints department that I could find.

    I have had my issue forwarded by Ellen. I await Samsung’s response.

  10. Casey

    Feb 22 2011

    We also have had nothing but trouble with our Samsung 52″ LCD.

    Within the first year, we started having black lines that kept growing across the screen. Samsung came out and replaced the screen for that.

    Shortly after our warranty was done, we also experienced the clicking issue when turning on the TV. We called Samsung and they agreed to send someone out to fix it free of charge even though it was out of warranty.

    The tech came out and replaced the power supply unit. Not even three months later, we are now having issues when we turn on the TV. From the right side, all across the bottom of the screen, the picture is warbled and flickering.

    Have to give it a while to warm up before that finally goes away and you can watch the TV. Even then it will sometimes return for a while.

    This problem started out small (would go away fast), but is now taking longer and longer to go away. We are yet again stuck with a TV that is on its third issue now.

    Very disappointed as we were wanting to buy a second TV for our new house but it looks like this might have to wait, as we will probably have to replace this TV in the short term.

  11. Lior

    Mar 24 2011

    It’s no surprise that TV sets today barely last. First of all, Samsung always has been a second rate brand. It’s cheaper than Sharp, Sony, Panasonic, etc., but you get what you pay for.

    Second, the components used by manufacturers these days are incredibly poor. Considering over 90% of TVs are made in China by contract manufacturers and consumers can buy a 50″ TV for $700, what kind of durability is to be expected?

  12. Christian Giroux

    Jun 19 2011

    Bought a LG 42PC1DA january 2007 2300$ canadian dollars ; christmas gift for the familly. 11 of june 2011, i am watching Spielberg’s Munich no problems, the next day my son open the tv, screen is splach by black moving spots convering 80% of the screen. Repairs estimate cost 95$ plus taxes. Estimate : 905$ with taxes : more expansive than a new one ! And then, you get to put in the garbage all those electronic components, gaz, plastic, etc.
    Great ! Where is my tube tv.

  13. Sarah

    Nov 9 2011

    I never heard of any problem with Samsung televisions, although almost everybody I know owns a Samsung TV.

    I was planing to buy the latest 3D model for my new apartment because Samsung TVs DO have the best image quality. Maybe I should look into other options.

  14. Lawrence Neufeld

    Nov 27 2011

    Ellen

    You quoted Samsung spokesperson “Julie Smithers” in your Samsung article. Is this the same “Julie Smithers” that worked as Bell Canada’s mouthpiece a few years back??

    Ouch! Another reason to avoid Samsung!

  15. Nathan David

    Dec 19 2011

    I purchased a 37″ LG 120HTZ LCD TV in the spring of 2009. By midsummer a tiny dotted line showed up in the middle of the screen, from top to bottom.

    Despite LG’s poor reputation for servicing warranty items, they were quick to send a repairman out. He came and got my set, but it was a little awkward, as his tech had just quit him. T

    his was one of the reasons for LG’s bad reputation with warranty work, that they use second rate tech shops.

    Well, it took a few weeks, but eventually the tech did contact me and let me know that he couln’t get parts to repair my set, so LG send me a brand new set and had me to return my bad set in the box from the newly received one.

    Now, however, my set is long out of warranty, since it is December 18, 2011, yet my set is still not that old AT ALL.

    I noticed yesterday that when I turned it on it is having trouble processing the imagery. It looks like little lines flashing (like antenna lines that sometimes could be seen on old tube sets). It also has some flickering in the upper portions of the screen, but it all looks like bad signal to me. After about five minutes it clears itself up.

    I am on a fixed income, so I cannot afford to pay for a repair to my set, nor can I afford to go out and buy one if this problem worsens and my set dies.

    I think my next set is going to be a Panasonic plasma. Plasmas are heavier and get hotter, but they are lasting much longer than they used to, being rated for 60,000 hours the last time I looked into them. They also are a little cheaper than some sets.

  16. Debra

    Sep 20 2014

    I too have a 50″ Samsung LED Smart tv that I can no longer watch. Samsung doesn’t seem very interested in helping me and has not been very professional in their customer service.

    My tv has coloured vertical lines and part of a picture on the right side. At the muddle of the bottom of the screen, there is what looks like a spider.

    I’ve read other reports on this same issue and I’ve experienced the same denial from Samsung that this is their problem. They say this is customer damage and, of course, is not covered under their warranty.

    There is only me here and my 15-year-old son. I know no one hit the tv since we bought it.

    BTW, this tv is only 8 months old! I purchased the extended two-year warranty also, which now also looks like a waste of money.

    My son was playing a video game on it, paused it and the screen changed to vertical lines. I know this is faulty parts, but to blame this on the customer is unacceptable.

    I cannot get any further response from Samsung and, unfortunately, have a Samsung fridge and stove. I wonder how long Samsung can continue to get away with unacceptable customer service and selling us inferior items. I know I will never again purchase anything made by Samsung.

    This has caused a lot of grief for me, not only in dealing with Samsung but also not having the use of the tv I thought I was purchasing.

    I am unable to dish out any more cash for a new tv, so will have to go without. Thanks a lot, Samsung. You know what they say about karma …