Pop Goes The Shoddy Refurbed Hitachi TV

Mark thought he’d save some money by buying a refurbished Hibachi HDTV off UEC Web, but was disturbed to discover the TV — as an under-fire politician, coach or CEO would put it — decided to spend more time with its family.

Then he paid $200 in labor for a repair, but shortly after the warranty expired, so did his TV once more. Now he’s stuck with a hunk of junk that’s as busted as the Phoenix Suns’ front office. Poor Mark’s story:

We bought a Hitachi TV – 51′ HDTV (Model 51F59) from UEC Web (order placed December 15, 2008 and received a couple of weeks later).

A month or so ago, my daughter heard a ‘pop’ from it. Then it had no picture and no sound, but the power light went on. We contacted the seller – UEC Web, and they answered us – here is their response, in its entirety (dated June 2, the same day I wrote to them, so it was a very prompt response):

Dear Mark:

We have asked Hitachi Customer Service to contact you and provide assistance.

The warranty for refurbished products is 30 days. You can obtain the name of a Hitachi Authorized Servicer by calling 1.800.HITACHI.

Best regards,

Customer Service Manager

Within the next couple of days, Hitachi Customer service contacted my wife, and offered to cover the cost of the part to be replaced, and they gave us the name of a local repair place (Leader TV). We had them repair the TV at a cost to us (of the labor) of over $200. We were able to use the TV a few times, and the same problem happened again! A “popping” noise, then no picture and no sound. (That story is considerably abbreviated – Leader had to come to the house multiple times and wanted to charge us separately for each visit…)

So, Phil, and Consumerist, I’m asking you for advice on how to proceed. UEC is obviously a clearinghouse for refurbs, and has no pretense to be anything else. The warranty policy was clear when we bought the TV. So, legally, we’re probably SOL, and we know it. Do you have any thoughts as how to minimize the financial damage here, and maybe get Hitachi to really stand behind their product? The repair guy said that the TV is close to new, even though it’s a refurb, so it seems to be pretty shoddy workmanship (imagine!).

Since advising readers to “punch Hitachi in the back of the head” isn’t allowed on Consumerist, I’d say Mark should just cut his losses and buy from a reputable company that’s willing to stand behind its products for more than a month. It’s probably worth scaling the customer service escalations ladder to appeal for a free repair, but another lemon HDTV isn’t much of a reward. What else can Mark try, folks?