Funai Knows TV Broke Under Warranty, Hopes You Go Away

UPDATE: Funai Finally Answers The Phone, Offers Refund For Dead 5-Month-Old TV

Back in February, Funai put a Consumerist reader on hold for two and a half hours before telling him that there was nothing they could do about selling him the entirely wrong DTV converter box. Now Funai has decided to head those long hold times off at the pass, and their warranty division has stopped answering the phone entirely.

You may not recognize the name Funai, but they sell electronics under the Emerson and Sylvania brands, and handle distribution for Philips/Magnavox TVs in the United States.

Tavie and Gina bought a Sylvania TV in March, which suddenly stopped working in July. “Good thing the TV has a one-year warranty,” they said. Or it would be if the warranty department would answer their phones.

Tavie and Gina fired off this letter over a week ago, and have received no response:

Tetsuya Kawasaki, Funai Corporation
Senior Executive Director of Service

Dear Mr Kawasaki,

Re: Sylvania LC3321SS9

On March 3rd, I purchased a Sylvania 32-inch HDTV flatscreen television from BJ’s price club in Jersey City, NJ. It cost $403. It’s been treated very carefully and was working perfectly until two weeks ago, on July 22nd, when it suddenly just stopped. Wouldn’t turn on, nothing. Dead as a doornail.

On Thursday, July 23rd, I called Sylvania Customer Service and they gave me a number and said I had to speak to the people in the warranty division. They told me that I would probably have to leave a message. I called the number all day on Thursday and kept getting a message that said “If you know your party’s extension, press 1, or press 0 for more options.” Every time I hit 0, it would repeat the message. I called customer service again after I got home and they told me that there had been problems with Warranty’s phones and to try again Friday. On Friday, nothing. On Monday, nothing. I called Customer Service again and they told me that they really could do nothing and I had to keep trying that number, that it was fixed. I tried the number again yesterday and kept getting the message that the box was full. Called CS again today and once again told nothing they could do till I called that number and they were so sorry and could understand my anger and that I could talk to a supervisor but it would do me no good.

Sir, is there someone to whom we can escalate this problem? In today’s economy it’s very difficult to spend that much money on a product and not be able to use it. I am paying for cable that I can’t see because the television set I purchased from your company does not work. I have taken time away from my working day in many attempts to contact someone at your company that can help me resolve this issue, to no avail.

To resolve the problem, I would appreciate a refund of my $403 or an exchange of my broken set for a new product that will not break after 5 months of use.

I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem, and will wait until Monday, August 8th before seeking help from a consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau. Please contact me at any of the email addresses or phone numbers listed below.

I tried the number for Funai USA’s headquarters in New Jersey, and it’s true that that all calls end up in a switchboardless, phone tree-less void. “I suspect this will go on for the next 7 months until the warranty expires,” Tavie mused in an e-mail to Consumerist. Let’s hope not.

With no response from Funai, they’ve taken to Twitter, using our “tweet to power” method to get the story out and urge people to boycott Funai products. Funai is trying to expand their business in North America, but cultivating a reputation for unresponsive service and not standing behind products isn’t a good way to go about that.

On the other hand, they won a “Supplier of the Year” award in their field from Walmart for last year, which may tell you something.

Boycott Funai [Twitter]

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2 Hrs, 25 Min On Hold Just To Get A Busted DTV Converter