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November 20, 2017

Thanks for Nothing:
P.C. Richard’s Black Friday Price Guarantee

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:08 am

It is rare to find any retailer offering to match competitors’ prices on Black Friday, but New York area appliance discount chain P.C. Richard & Son is advertising just that.

PC richard price guarantee

Wow. Walmart did this a few years ago, but has not since. But before you get all psyched about shopping at P.C. Richard, you better follow the asterisk to their fine print disclaimer.


PC Richard price guarantee details

It basically says that while it lasts 30 days, their Black Friday price guarantee excludes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the weekend after Black Friday, and Cyber Monday for any competitor advertising limited quantities, certain hours for sales, etc. But virtually every retailer has those restrictions on their doorbusters or other great deals that you might only see between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

We asked the company about the dubious nature of this policy and they have yet to respond.

So to P.C. Richard, for your Black Friday price guarantee we say, thanks for nothing.


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August 28, 2017

Is Your Samsung Warranty Missing? (It May be No Accident)

Filed under: Electronics — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:31 am

A few weeks ago, MrConsumer recounted some surprises found in Samsung television warranties concerning black bars on the screen. The biggest surprise, however, was this: the $400+ television did not come with a copy of manufacturer’s warranty in the box.

Since MrConsumer used his Citi Double Cash credit card to buy the TV, which provides an extra TWO YEARS of coverage beyond that provided by the manufacturer, it was critical to have a copy of the original warranty.

A visit to Samsung’s website proved to be a waste of time:

Samsung- no warranty info

A call to Samsung’s 800 number also proved to be fruitless. Neither the customer service agent nor her supervisor could provide it. The supervisor even erroneously suggested that a serial number (not just a model number) was needed in order to get a copy.

Doesn’t federal law require that a copy be in the box?


Actually, an amendment a few years ago to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) allows manufacturers to disclose the terms of their warranties online as long as they also have a non-Internet means to request a copy such as a phone number or mailing address. (See our 2015 story.)

How anti-consumer, however, of any manufacturer to fail to spend the extra penny it would cost to put a copy right in the box with their product.

We asked the PR folks at Samsung if it was simply an error in this case that the TV that MrConsumer bought did not have the warranty included, or if it was company policy to no longer include it.

In part, a spokesperson replied, attaching a copy of the warranty:

‚ÄúSamsung provides product warranty information on our website, www.samsung.com. We apologize you were unable to find the warranty for your TV on our website. This was caused by an error, and we are addressing it.” — Samsung spokesperson

Well, that didn’t answer the question of whether it is Samsung’s policy to no longer include a copy of the warranty in the box (and if so, why)? We wrote back two more times asking again, but received no response.

What kind of company refuses to directly answer such a simple question?


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August 13, 2017

Samsung’s TV Warranty Suggests Limiting Your Viewing of Certain Stations/Programs or Else!

Filed under: Business,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 1:28 pm

While reading the warranty for a recently purchased Samsung HDTV, MrConsumer did a double-take reviewing one particular section.

But first, you have to understand a little about the screen dimensions of high definition televisions vs. the old-fashioned cathode ray tube ones. Old TV screens were more boxy — almost close to a square. They were 4:3 perspective. That is, left to right, the screen was only slightly wider than it was high. High definition television screens are usually 16:9 — much wider than high — more like a movie screen.

If you watch a standard definition TV channel, or an old television show that was not shot in high definition, you usually see black bars left and right of the picture:

black bars

Those programs are in 4:3 format and when viewed on a 16:9 screen, there is space left over on the left and right — thus the black bars. In some cases, if a program was only produced in HD, but you are viewing it on a standard definition channel, you will see black bars on all four sides of the picture.

Now back to the Samsung warranty. In its own separate section of the warranty, Samsung warns purchasers not to spend more than 5% of their TV-watching time viewing standard definition programs or channels! What? A TV manufacturer is telling users what they can and cannot watch on their own TV?


Samsung 5% warranty warning

The warranty actually says that you shouldn’t watch standard definition programs and channels (unless you stretch and distort them to fill the screen) for more than 5% of the time each week. That means if you watch 20 hours of TV a week, you can’t watch more than one or two episodes of your favorite old shows a week without potentially voiding part of your warranty.

The problem, they say, is “burn-in” — where something that is constantly on the screen and not moving causes the image to be seared into the display permanently. Think of the old pong video game where you had a white box on the screen for hours at a time. That could get burned in to the old cathode ray screens. The same problem exists for LCD and LED TVs apparently, but to a much lesser extent.

We asked Samsung why it manufacturers televisions that cannot support SD programs and SD channels in their original 4:3 format without potentially damaging the TV and voiding a part of the warranty? Here is their (non-) answer:

“Samsung is committed to the highest quality and most immersive TV viewing experience for all consumers. We provide customers with guidance to ensure the best performance of their devices. We encourage consumers to enjoy their preferred content on their TV while understanding the suggested ways to get the most out of their product.” –Samsung spokesperson

The spokesperson did note that the company offers a lifetime warranty against burn-in, but only on last year’s high-end SUHD line, and this year’s premium QLED line.

We also wondered if other manufacturers were cautioning viewers to limit watching standard definition TV. Sure enough, on LG’s website, they have a similar warning:

LG burn in

So kiss goodbye your old episodes of “I Love Lucy” and “All in the Family” as well as watching the entire array of standard definition channels, like 2, 4, 5 and 7 for any significant length of time.


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May 7, 2017

Staples.com Keeps Warranties Secret and That Could be Costly to You

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:32 am

Two years ago, Consumer World conducted a spot-check of 20 major Internet retailers to see if they were properly disclosing the manufacturer’s warranty on their websites for the products they sell.

Two-thirds of the sellers surveyed posted no warranties whatsoever for any of the items checked. Federal Trade Commission rules require online sellers, on or near the product description of items over $15, to either post the actual warranty or tell customers how to obtain a free copy from the seller.

At the time, for the five items checked at Staples.com, none had the actual warranty language disclosed nor a statement of how to obtain it, and the length of the warranty was only sometimes disclosed.

From a practical standpoint, how might this affect a shopper? Case in point: Last year, MrConsumer assisted two friends who were in need of a new desktop computer. He wound up recommending a Dell that was on sale at the time at Staples for between $400 and $500. Current version of product listing:

Dell 3650 Dell specs

Fast forward 10 months later, and one of the computers needed to be repaired. Upon calling Dell, my friend was informed there would be a charge equivalent to approximately half the cost of the computer because in-home service was not covered in the warranty. What? A desktop computer weighing nearly 20 pounds has to be disconnected and mailed to Dell to be repaired? You bet.


Dell Mail-in

Sure enough, on the Dell website, the warranty that came with this desktop computer was mail-in only. Who would ever expect anything but in-home service for a desktop computer under warranty?

So we asked several Staples’ PR folks to explain why they were not complying with federal law and disclosing product warranties right on their website, and why they were not at a minimum even clearly disclosing that in the case of this computer that the warranty was mail-in. We also asked now that Staples was sensitized to this issue, what steps they would take to comply with federal law and be more explicit about the type of warranty that comes with their products.

Their response: [this space intentionally blank since Staples did not reply to three requests for this information.]

The lesson, of course, is to never assume anything about a product’s warranty and to demand to see it before you make a significant purchase.


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February 6, 2017

Samsung Tries to Kill Lawsuits Over Exploding Phones

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

Everyone has heard about the exploding Samsung Note 7 smartphones by now. Cars have caught fire when the battery in the phone ignited. People have been burned. Airlines banned the phone. And finally Samsung recalled them at a cost of over $5-billion.

But what about people who bought the phone and suffered personal injury or property damage? It seems like Samsung is trying to burn them twice.


20-second CBS Video

What? Deep in the product box they tucked a mandatory arbitration clause on page 16 of the instructions preventing people from suing them. What foresight (and sleaze).


mandatory arbitration

Watch the full CBS News story here.


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