Circuit City Warranty Anguish

This post is completely off topic for this blog. I beg your indulgence while I rant for a bit.
In 2005 I bought a Samsung DLP at Circuit City and purchased Circuit City’s extended warranty as well. I normally don’t buy those, but given the price of the TV and the newness of the technology I thought it was worth having a little bit of insurance. The Circuit City Advantage Protection included a bulb replacement which would almost pay for the warranty by itself, so it seemed worth it. Little did I know that I was buying months without TV and many days waiting for a TV repair guy.
In January of 2008, I began to hear buzzing for a extended period of time when I turned on the TV. I called for warranty service and was told that a local TV repair show would call me within 24 hours to schedule an appointment. I did not receive the promised call but the TV difficulties were still tolerable so I didn’t followup.
In April 2008, I found that I could not longer put up with the noise (apparently from a failing color wheel). I called for service and an appointment was set up with G&E Television. On April 7th, a technician from G&E put in a light bulb and left quickly before verifying that the problem was solved. I found that the picture on my TV was actually worse than before. The screen was very dark and was shaded on one side. A followup appointment occurred and G&E replaced the color wheel, light bulb and ballast on April 9th.
While I continued to hear the occasional grinding/buzzing noise at startup it was brief and occasional enough that I considered the problem solved, but was glad to have more time on my warranty in case the situation worsened.
Unfortunately the situation did worsen. My TV began to spontaneously reboot while watching shows. The reboots often occurred at startup and once it rebooted a handful of times it would perform normally. It later progressed to continuous reboots that would not be solved until the plug was pulled. These reboots could occur immediately when the machine is turned on or it might occur an hour after the TV is on.
I called Circuit City Warranty in July to resolve the reboot issue. They scheduled Advance Video to come out on July 9th to look at the problem. It should be noted that G&E Television provided a TWO hour window and Advance Video provided a 5 hour appointment window. Advance Video is located in Baltimore MD according to their website. The technician, Jimmy, said he only comes to Virginia a couple days a week (further slowing response times).
Jimmy could not reproduce the rebooting problem during the brief time he was here, but explained that given what was already swapped out, the problem is likely the light engine. He said I should call him directly if the problem recurs within the next two weeks. Jimmy said he would order the light engine so it would be ready when I called. By Friday the problem had recurred. When I called Jimmy he had not yet ordered the light engine. Jimmy called me on 7/15 and let me know that the part was ordered and would take 5-10 days.
When the part came in Jimmy set up an appointment for 7/31 from 10am-1pm. Jimmy said he would try to work it in on the early side of that. At 1:10pm when I hadn’t heard from Jimmy, I called him. I found out that he was in Woodbridge, which by my estimation is more than 30 minutes away. Since I couldn’t continue to take off work to wait for a TV repairman, I called Circuit City Warranty. They asked if I was available on Saturday 8/2/08 at 11am for Jimmy. At 1:10 pm I received a call from Jimmy who was just leaving Waldorf, MD (50 miles away). Around 2:30 Jimmy finally arrived.
He put in a new light engine and the TV would not power up. He put in the old light engine and it wouldn’t power up. Since it would power up before he arrived I questioned just what he did to the TV. I offered to show him a video I took demonstrating the problem to show that the TV did power up before it just rebooted spontaneously. For some reason he declined to see the video. I would think a technician would want to see that. Jimmy now tells me it will be another 5-10 days to get a power supply in. He claims that he will hold onto the light engine.
I am not happy about the large appointment window times of Advance Video.
I am not happy with the technician missing the large appointment times.
I am not happy this problem has not yet been resolved. It appears to me that rather than having Samsung certified technicians we have jack-of-all-trades technicians who throw parts in the TV until either the consumer gives up or Circuit City declares the TV a total loss.
I am not happy that it takes 5-10 days to get necessary parts for the TV.
8/20 – 2.5 weeks after Jimmy ordered the power supply I still haven’t heard anything.
I call Circuit City Advantage and find I can no longer speak to a human. Instead a automatic ticket is put in for another TV repair company from Maryland to call me! (I eventually get that canceled since my parts are already on order through Advance Video.
I call Jimmy, the part has apparently come in, but they only come to Virginia on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
So I take yet another day off of work as with an appointment window of 12-5 there isn’t much point in going into work.
8/21/2008
“its not the power supply.” exclaims Jimmy
I never thought there was a power supply issue unless he blew it. Turns out there was a loose wire. I suspect he knocked it loose when he was putting in the new light engine
So now it powers up. Because Jimmy had put the original light engine back in it on August 2nd I am still at the original problem reported on July 9th.
Jimmy no longer had the light engine that was ordered for me. Since its a $650 part I wonder what happened to it. He did have a light engine destined for another customer and he received authorization to put that light engine into my TV. It still didn’t work, so he put my original light engine back and diagnosed (guessed) that the problem was the analog and digital circuit boards (those are pretty much the only things left). I asked Jimmy if it would be another 2 weeks to order the boards, he replied “oh no, since we know what the problem is now, it will be much quicker.” That makes no sense.
9/3 I called Advance Video since I haven’t heard back yet.
Oh goody another 12-5 appointment.
9/4
Waiting for jimmy. Fortunately he shows on the early side of the window. Puts in the two boards and a new light bulb.
TV stays up two minutes before rebooting.
Jimmy comments “that the light engines are on back order. Since we already tried a light engine this TV should be declared a loss.”
He tries to call someone for guidance and gets voicemail. Says he will call me back.
9/8
I call Jimmy since he did not call me back. He says that I should have heard back from “victor”. I need to call victor.
9/9
I call Advance Video and ask for Victor.
Victor is on a week of vacation. According to my file I need a light engine.
I told them we already tried one new light engine. I’ve been without a tv for two months and have taken numerous days off work due to their incredibly large appointment window.
They will email victor and call me back.
9/10
I got a call back from advantage video. They say I need to call my warranty people.
9/11
calling circuit city warranty.
They tell me I need to call
888 615 8156 consumer relations option 2 twice
The person at customer relations says “they will send to the exchange dept to get an auth number. It will take 7-10 days. They will call me.”
9/24/2008
Since 14 days have passed, I called them. Jessica says that it will be 14 business days from 9/11.
This post will be updated as the saga continues. As I’ve googled, I’ve found plenty of experiences posted to the web about Circuit City Warranty ripoffs. The best written one is at Made by Mark..
From what I’ve read online, I have several things to look forward to still.
1. Assuming I ever get a “authorization number” rather than being able to use it at my local store, they will pick a random store within a 45 mile radius.
2. Rather than giving me a dollar amount toward a new TV, they will attempt to stick me with some refurb/open box item. I spent months researching HDTV models (look where that got me) and they expect to replace my TV with some random TV that has been kicked around their store room?
9/30/2008 – Progress
I got a call from Circuit City Warrenty and now have a claim number. I’m told to call the entertainment manager at my local circuit city.
So I’ve dodged two bullets 1) its approved, no more long waits 2) its a store of my choice rather than of their selection. That had been a concern.
So the next hurdle is making sure I get money towards a TV of my choice or at the least a TV that is acceptable.

3 Comments

  1. Wow, i am worried about my Samsung DLP. I have the 56 inch and it is very pixelated in dark scenes or even well lit scenes with people who have dark clothing…any advice? now that they are going out of business what should i do about my warranty?

  2. I thought pixelation had more to do with the source. Cable companies using less bandwidth and more compression.
    The warranty is actually processed by an external company, so Circuit City would tell you there is no danger there. Of course the waranty company could also have financial problems.

  3. Wow sorry to hear. My 42″ plasma tv that I bought the cable plug broke off. The warranty people were great at contacting someone to come out. It took the guy 3 days to set up the appt. Then another 2.5 wks to get the part. Then the lazy ass came to pick up the tv for service and never rang the door bell. I get a call stating that it looked like no one was home so they didn’t stop. I had informed the dip that there is cool thing called a DOOR BELL try using it and get out here the next day to get my tv. The repair was only to take 24 hrs. It’s been a week I haven’t heard from repair guy nor has my TV been returned. And when you call no one answer the damm phone. I’m very upset that Circuit City hired such poor help. I wish they would do a back round chk.

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