Flat panel TV bargains abound these days. With prices dropping 30%-40% from 2006 to 2007 (confirmed this week by LG US CEO Michael Ahn) one can easily be tempted by the leader pricing of the “new brands” (called tier two and tier three by the consumer electronics industry) that undercut top panel maker prices by hundreds of dollars.
What the enticing, price driven TV commercials and their dealers don’t tell you is that Westinghouse, Polaroid and other tier two and three set makers add costly charges during the one year warranty period and buyers may incur substantial service charges after their warranties expire. In fact, two companies surveyed don’t support service at all after the one-year warranty expires!Name Brand HDTV Service
All the top name brands including Panasonic, Sony, Hitachi Samsung, Philips, LG, Mitsubishi, Sharp and Toshiba etc. have in-home factory authorized warranty service for their larger size TVs (usually 32” and up). Out of warranty service is no problem. All the major name brand TV companies have vast parts supplies and a nationwide network of factory authorized servicers. The latest trend, started by Panasonic is “concierge” service. If a Panasonic plasma is taken out of the home for service, Panasonic will provide a loaner plasma TV until the set is returned. This extra service is free; set purchasers only need to register with Panasonic.
Bottom line: the top tier TV companies invest in the future, spending collectively many tens of millions of dollars to keep their customers coming back to them. The “new brands” look for the sale today and do not have policies that will retain customers. With better warranties and service, the top brands have an incentive to build higher quality more reliable HDTVs.