By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – At Grass TV lies a small graveyard of pricey televisions that recently graced living rooms, playrooms and bedrooms.
On the outside, nothing appears to be wrong with the high-definition sets. But turn them on and it’s apparent that something bad happened.
“The panel itself, there’s not much physical damage at all,” said store co-owner Robby Grass, pointing to one particular Sony high-definition TV. “But the damage is on the inside, where the electronics are part of the panel itself.”
Powered up, the Sony shows several vertical lines streaking down the screen, a large black “blob” with no picture at all, horizontal lines smeared across the screen and a spider-like mark where it appears something hit it.
“That,” Grass said, “is where a Wii remote hit it.”
Today’s LCD (liquid crystal display) and plasma TVs offer better pictures than the old CRT (cathode ray tube) – or picture-tube – televisions and are much lighter in weight. One trade-off is that the screens on the new HDTVs aren’t as durable as the CRT’s thick glass plates.
“We had a two 30-inch picture tubes and a customer bought both of them because her children threw a Wii remote into her new LCD,” Grass said.
Wii gamers know that a warning pops up every time the console is turned on, telling them to use the strap attached to the remote.
And Nintendo, the maker of the Wii, also offers this warning:
“Give yourself plenty of room. You will probably move around while using the Wii remote, so be careful that all areas that you might move into are clear. … Also, as indicated in the Wii Operations Manual, it is recommended to stay at least three feet from the television.”
Whether it’s a Wii, XBox or PlayStation, gaming consoles and HDTVs seem to go together. It’s not uncommon to see electronics retailers bundling one of the consoles with a large flat-screen TV. The bigger the better.
Unless you have slippery hands or don’t heed Nintendo’s warnings.
With their motion-sensing technology, the Wii remotes are used to play sports like tennis, bowling, golf and baseball. Get a little overexcited, and you can lose your grip on the remote and send it flying into your HDTV that you may have paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for.
“Oh, I can fix it,” said Bob Grass, “but you wouldn’t want me to. The panels aren’t priced where it’s feasible to replace them, and you also have to pay labor. It’s just cheaper to buy a new one.”
Jeron White of Best Buy in Tupelo said most TVs come with manufacturers’ warranties that cover 12 months parts and labor.
“The warranties cover defects, anything that has to do with workmanship and quality,” he said.
White recommends an extended warranty – called the Black Tie Program at Best Buy – to cover other problems that could develop.
“For example, manufacturers’ warranties don’t cover power surges,” he said. “The Black Tie Program does.”
In fact, most extended warranties – also called product protection plans – offer similar coverage. Normal wear and tear; mechanical and electrical failure; heat, dust and humidity and defects in materials and workmanship are covered by the extended warranties.
Some of them also send repair technicians to customers’ homes. Other service plans offer in-home service only if the manufacturer offers it.
But not everyone recommends extended warranties. Consumer Reports, for example, say that most products are reliable enough that you don’t need extended warranties. And it says when electronics and appliances do break, the repairs, on average, cost about the same as an extended warranty.
Still, extended warranties provide peace of mind for some consumers.
Extended warranty plans vary, so it’s important to check out all the details. Prices also vary, depending on the screen size, type and cost of the TV.
What about taking the TV back to the store where you bought it?
With most retailers, that isn’t an option. Customers must either take or send the TV back to a manufacturer’s recommended service center.
“And the consumer usually has to pay for the shipping costs both ways,” White said.
At Walmart, most items can be exchanged or refunded with a receipt within 90 days. Some electronics products have exceptions.
For example, the company’s Web site says items costing $300 or more “must be shipped via a shipping carrier designated by Walmart.com.”
Walmart also offers what a “product care plan,” a two-year extended warranty protection that promises if the product can’t be repaired, it will be replaced.
Bob and Rob Grass, on the other hand, can handle most repairs at their store on South Gloster street. The Grasses also offer an extended warranty plan and will offer a “loaner” to a customer whose TV can’t be fixed in the home and needs to be taken back to the shop.
But if you threw your gaming remote into your TV, chances are you’ll have to buy a new set.
“Once you hit it, accident or not, that’s it,” said Bob with a shrug. “All the warranties say they don’t cover abuse, and throwing a remote at the TV is considered abuse.”
In fact, one warranty describes what is not covered: “Damage from accident, abuse, misuse, introduction of foreign objects in the product and failure to follow the manufacturer’s instruction.”