Big TV's

Reporter: Helen Wellings

Real-life TV dramas - big screen televisions that cost a fortune but just don't work .. and the manufacturers don't want to know. Shane and Lisa Adley's 50" plasma is just 4 months old ... a Chinese-made Palsonic with a 3 year warranty. They paid a rock bottom discount price of $2140 for a display model at Retravision in Perth.

"They said 'just ring the manufacturer' so we did and then the manufacturer put me on to a local repair company. I then rang that repair company and that repair company had shut down... the manufacturer told us take the TV straight back to Retravision" said Shane.

Told it was probably irreparable, Shane and Lisa wanted to swap the plasma for a new one. But Retravision told them that sale price is no longer available - they'll need to pay an extra $1,600 for a new one. When we intervened, Retravision offered to come and inspect the panel. But Palsonic told us today they've just offered Shane a new quality control tested unit ... we'll see how that goes.

Adam Merlino Managing Director of flat screen specialists, Audio Connection, says it's mainly cheaper imports that might not last. "There are major brands represented in this country which tend to be a much higher quality." But Tanya Feekings 3 year old rear projection TV is an LG, discounted to $4,000. Every year she's shelled out $1000 to replace the blown lamp. "It was a just a week before the warranty ran out, the TV just wouldn't work anymore."

Tanya says LG told her to send it to a repairer for diagnosis, $270 later. "They said to me 'no it's a lamp issue. Nothing you can've got to replace it...that's just the way it is... I've spent $2000 fixing it... I've had enough" said Tanya.

7's Gadget Man, Peter Balsina says "All sorts of things can go wrong with them... but I think plasma and LCD technology is terrific and it is reliable now." The first plasmas cost $25,000 6 years ago. Now you can buy plasmas from $2000 for the basic 42" and from $8000 up to $16,000 for the whoppers. LCDs - the most popular, 32", from $1500. Our experts say plasma is a better image but it depends on the size and type of room. "If it's a bright, sunny environment an LCD might suit the application better. And the reason being is it doesn't reflect sunlight" says Adam. But warranty's just as important.

"The manufacturer warranty is the one you really want to look for. Some of the extended warrantees are through third party companies and .. the products of which you may have the extended warranty you cant buy parts for them anymore...whereas the law is there is a certain given amount in years that the major manufacturers have to provide a warrantee for the spare parts for the product" says Adam.

"The way its going to be serviced, the way its going to be picked up, the ways its going to be transported to the repair centre and then back to you... they're all critical issues" says Peter. Buy from a reputable store where you get top service from knowledgeable staff, and a retailer and brand that will back you up if and when something goes wrong.

LG tells us Tanya's lamp should have lasted 2-3 years, they're surprised she had to pay $1000 for a replacement lamp. They deeply regret her experience and now would like to talk to her. "It's all about keeping a happy customer and I'm not happy" adds Tanya.

It helps if the retailer is a member of CEDIA, Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. CEDIA members are trained in the technology and installation of flat screen televisions.

Adam Merlino

Audio Connection

Tel: (02) 95183000

Fax: (02) 9560 6056