Until I had to do it myself, I’ve never known anyone who had to call in a warranty repair on a piece of electronics. A couple months ago, my Samsung HDTV started giving me intermittent issues. Vertical lines of noise flickered on the screen during Blu-ray playback in portions of the movie that never demonstrated that flaw before. Objects left trails as they moved over black sections of the screen. Things obviously weren’t right. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories online about dealing with warranty services, but don’t personally know anyone who’d tried using one. Fearing the negative things I’ve read in internet forums, I didn’t expect it to go too well.
Here in Utah, we don’t have Fred Meyers or Fry’s, but that same parent company owns a different chain of similar stores here called Smith’s Marketplace. Smith’s is a nice supermarket, while the Marketplace locations feature everything you’d find in a Walmart Supercenter: groceries, electronics and other standard department store stuff. I have a friend who worked high-up in the company, who let me use his discount card to purchase my Samsung TV. Your jaw would drop if I told you how little I paid for it. Since I saved so much on the purchase price, I decided to buy the longest extended warranty offered, and now I’m thankful that I did.
When I called the warranty folks, they quickly pulled up my details based solely on my phone number. After asking me what the symptoms were, they arranged a time for a local repair company to swing by my house and assess the damage. Typically, when I’m given a two-hour window that a repairman (especially a Comcast repairman) is supposed to stop by, I expect them to arrive at the end of that window or later. That was not the case with my guy. He showed up in the middle of the time frame and was very quick. The TV was already warmed up, so he didn’t have to wait before beginning his diagnostic process.
Of course, since my problems have been random and sporadic, he wasn’t able to witness the issues himself, so he took the TV back to his shop for further assessment. In the meantime, his company provided me with a free 37″ Sharp set as a temporary replacement. The size and refresh rate weren’t the best, but it was a perfectly satisfactory loaner.
After five business days, I received a call that the shop finally saw the problem. The diagnosis: the panel was going out. They could order a new screen and have it repaired in a day or two, but they’d have to obtain approval to do so from the extended warranty folks first. Well, because of the amazing deal I got, how little I paid for the set and how much the replacement part would cost, I was given the unexpectedly great news that I’d be completely refunded for the price I paid for the TV. In reality, the $60 that I spent on the warranty is all I had to pay for a two-year “rental.” This news came in the morning of Thanksgiving Eve, so I had a lot of research to do prior to Black Friday.
Last year, my brother learned a great trick to Black Friday shopping. Did you know that Best Buy’s doorbuster deals go live at 12:01 AM Eastern on Thanksgiving? Just as each store has an allotted amount of coveted doorbuster deals in stock, so do the online and over-the-phone order entry systems. Since I’m in the Mountain time zone, I called into Best Buy’s helpline at 10:15 PM Wednesday night and placed an order for what may have been the best deal, an LG 55″ 1080p 120hz LED television, the price of which was barely $200 more than what I’d paid (and would be reimbursed) for my 40″ Samsung two years ago. Sure, I’d have to wait a full week for it to be delivered, but it was worth it. You’d better believe that after having such a positive experience with the Samsung, I purchased a $100 five-year Geek Squad warranty. Should anything happen to this set within the next five years, I hope that Geek Squad is as efficient as the service that Smith’s Marketplace provided.
Have any of our readers had to put a warranty to use? Did you have as positive an experience as I did, or do you have a horror story to tell? Let us know in the Comments below.