Pay No Attention To The Flickering Excited Pixel On Your Plasma TV

Joshua has only had his Panasonic 3-D plasma TV for six months, so it’s still well within the initial one-year warranty. It’s developed a strange problem where one particular area of the screen glows bright green, flickers, and is hot to the touch. Once Panasonic was able to find someone on staff capable of viewing the YouTube video he sent in as evidence, they ultimately concluded that a hot flickering pixel is not covered by the warranty. Really? Somehow, he expected more after dropping $1,500 on a TV.

Consumerist,

I just wanted to let you guys know how horrible Panasonic’s customer service is. I’m in the process of attempting to fix an issue that recently developed with my 6 month old TC-P55ST30 plasma television.

Basically, my plasma recently developed an “excited” green pixel that has decided it wants to be a spastic strobe light green color forever. It loves to turn off/on constantly and will fluctuate brightness with darker colors. It also tends to remain on with lighter colors (although it will occasionally dim/flicker as well). The area of the screen where the pixel is located is hotter than the rest of the screen. It’s noticeable to the touch anyways. I need to get an infrared or laser thermometer to confirm, but I had a buddy double check my findings by having him touch the screen – the area where the pixel is located is hotter than every other part of the screen.


I originally scheduled a service call with their “Concierge” department last Saturday. All was well (appointment was confirmed, got a call from the field tech) until I got a call Monday stating they were putting the call on hold until I submitted more evidence. I immediately dropped what I was doing, took a video of the issue, and sent it to Panasonic immediately per their request. I didn’t hear back from them until Friday because apparently they don’t know how to easily open a YouTube link (the ticket was being bounced through escalation hell until someone figured out how to view it). When they finally reviewed the video, they decided that they were NOT going to send a technician out to evaluate the issue because it’s not covered by the warranty. I was beyond frustrated at this point and I let them know it.

I “nicely” explained to them that this is an issue that had developed during the warranty period, was not simply a “lit or dead” pixel (it’s an “Excited Pixel” – it’s a makeshift term for this type of issue on a Plasma from what information I mustered up on the internet) which they “claim” to not cover (although the warranty I have does not state any pixel issue is excluded) , and the screen in that area is notably hotter to the touch in the area where the issue is occurring. I told them that I don’t know what the issue is exactly, I don’t know if it’s a symptom of a bigger problem (is the TV going to catch on fire or short out?), and the least they could do was send out a technician to VERIFY what I was trying to report to them and figure out how to proceed. After days of torment they finally managed to schedule an “evaluation” of the TV. I’m waiting on the finalization of that as I type this.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be upset if the pixel was green for a few days and simply died – 1 dead pixel isn’t a big deal to me. The fact that this issue developed 6 months after purchasing the TV is annoying, the fact that the “excited” pixel(s) are flashing/fluctuating like a green strobe light and WON’T STOP is frustrating, and the fact that Panasonic wants to drag their feet through the entire process is infuriating.

I’ve never seen a company so belligerent to honor their own warranty. I spent $1,500 on their product – the LEAST they could do is make sure it’s not defective for a year.

Here the exact warranty that applies to the TV in question. [PDF download.]

Do you see anything that mentions pixels being “excluded” from the warranty? Me either.

At only six months after purchase, Joshua should check with both the retailer where he bought the set (if it wasn’t directly from Panasonic) and the issuer of the credit or debit card that he may have used to purchase it. (If he’s very lucky, he purchased it using an AmEx card from Costco, both of which are companies known for helping out customers when manufacturers drag their feet on honoring warranties.

Comments

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  1. scoutermac says:

    Fix broken plasma screen with bat.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKJcBx9cXKo

  2. CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

    Use a black magic marker over the pixel.

    I can’t believe he paid $1,500 for a plasma tv 6 months ago that uses active shutters for 3D.
    That is old technology in terms of TVs and 3D TVs.
    He should have gotten a great deal on it since it was plasma and it really is not a 3D TV when it uses shutter glasses. Any TV even ones from 1950s are 3D when you use shutter glasses.
    For $1,500 he could have just bought a top of the line LCD polarized 3D TV.

    • MrEvil says:

      Actually it’s the shutter glasses that are the modern technology. In the 50′s 3D films were projected in Red/Blue or Red/Green Anaglyph. Shutters produce truer colors than Anaglyph and also don’t produce a blurry image due to differences in wavelength between the two filters. Shutters also produce a better image for those wearing Rx lenses as they don’t require a diopter adjustment like plastic framed Anaglyph glasses often have.

      Still, that’s beside the point that I still think 3D for movies is complete shit because of those glasses.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Whether we consider the purchase silly or not isn’t really the issue. And drawing on a TV screen just makes things worse- now it’s hot, has a freaky pixel, and has a stain on the screen.

    • ecuador says:

      Ehm, active shutter is the most complex technology and will produce the best results. The drawback is the big cost of the glasses (especially if you want to make them light). You are a bit confused because an active shutter system can theoretically be installed to an older monitor. However, the active shutter system itself (which synchronizes the glasses with the monitor) is the “3D” part of the TV for which you pay the extra $$$. So, while the screen-part itself is not particularly “special” (but has to support 120Hz+ otherwise it will not look good – hence the “theoretically” in using older monitors), the TV includes electronics not present in, say, polarized solutions.
      And FYI, polarized projection is much older than active shutters anyway.

    • Booger of Love says:

      I believe a top-of-the-line 3D TV that uses polarized glasses only gives you half of the 1080p resolution (540 for each eye), resulting in a lower resoultion image and noticeable “jaggies”.

    • dyzlexiK says:

      Except that plasmas still offer better colour and contrast over LCDs in a home theatre room. Plasmas are not “old technology”, they’re different technology with significant drawbacks, and if you have the proper space for them, they are superior to LCDs.

  3. scoutermac says:

    Honestly most manufactures do not consider one bad pixel worthy of warranty. The flicker may be enough for them to warranty though.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      That is normally on stuck pixel not for a flashing pixel.

      • scoutermac says:

        Not according to companies such as Apple and Samsung

        http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1721

        http://www.samsung.com/se/support/repairpolicy/Samsung_Monitor_Pixel_Policy.pdf

        My brother had a PowerMac G3 that had a few stuck pixels and Apple refused to warranty it because it did not make their minimum bad pixels.

        • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

          For the 100% premium you pay for apple it is a joke that they wont replace it for 1 stuck pixel.
          Sure, lower priced LCDs are priced that you have to accept some stuck pixels, but Apple is price so high they have to replace any LCDs with stuck pixels.
          Apple is horrible company if they dont have premium warranty for their premium priced products.

          • StarKillerX says:

            I’m not a fan of Apple but let’s be honest here, Apple’s prices are high because they want the money not so they can provide better service and warranty then the cheaper guys.

        • LanMan04 says:

          Stuck (on) or dead pixels are different than flashing.

          Usually, the number of “allowed” dead pixels is greater than the number of allowed stuck pixels, and flashing pixels are usually covered by warranty.

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    If the visit isn’t satisfactory, I think a letter to the Consumer Product Safety commission is in order. Since the TV is getting extra hot in one spot, this is a safety issue that should be brought to their attention.

    Of course copy Panasonic on your correspondence.

  5. Brontide says:

    Each manufacture, and sometime by lineup, the warranty for dead and “hot” pixels varies. Often it is even tied to where on the screen the malfunction is, with center pixels being given more weight than sides and corners.

    Keep calling support and if that doesn’t work call your credit card company since this is a defect in workmanship that should not go unanswered.

    BTW: Plasmas’s get warm/hot, I wouldn’t worry too much about that unless it’s significantly different than any other bright section of the screen.

  6. CrazyEyed says:

    It’s simple, let them know the next letter will be coming from your lawyer and your insurance company for damages due to a faulty television that will soon catch on fire. With the right words and phrases, you might catcha few more eyes and attention.

    • Jawaka says:

      If something isn’t covered under warranty calling a lawyer doesn’t suddenly and magically make it covered under warranty. Also, if the OP felt that for whatever reason that the television could catch on fire (it won’t because of a single excited pixel) then I argue that he’d be partially responsible for continuing to use the product if it actually did.

  7. deathbecomesme says:

    That’s gotta suck. I have a “blemish” on my TV from when my cat knocked my HOT iron over and it was leaning on the TV for a few seconds. Thank gawd it’s not visible unless you are within a few feet of the tv. Or else my cat would be out on his a$$

  8. RickN says:

    I’m a big fan of the OP having his buddy touch the screen to see how hot it was.

    “Earl, touch the screen over there. Where the flashing green light is.”

    ‘Why is it smoking?”

    “Don’t worry about it. Just touch it.” *snicker*

  9. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Hmmmmm… the fiance and I put a Panasonic LCD TV in our registry, but this gives me pause.

    What is a TV manufacturer that has good customer service and makes a reliable product?

    • chiieddy says:

      LCDs don’t suffer the same issues with pixels burning out that plasmas do

      • ajaxd says:

        LCD absolutely can have the same problem. You can have dead, flickering or stuck pixels. I have an old LCD monitor with one pixel stuck on red.

  10. bsh0544 says:

    You know I’ve got a flickery green pixel on my newish (bought in Jan/Feb) 50″ plasma, and I just ignore it. I can *barely* see it from my couch ~9 feet away, if the screen is entirely black and I know just where to look, and am trying to see it.

  11. Here to ruin your groove says:

    You will have a difficult time finding a company that will do much for you over a single pixel issue. Especially 6 months out. It honestly doesn’t look that bad, but that’s me.

  12. jiarby says:

    Taser the motherboard. Call again and complain that the whole thing is dead and won’t boot up. No need to mention the weirdo pixel issue.

  13. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    On the single pixel I have to say it’s bad luck. I’m worried about the heating. Get an IR thermometer and track that down. Even if it isn’t a fire hazard unusual heating will cause the rest of the TV to fail prematurely.

    I have a 50″ Panasonic Plasma purchased in 2006, long enough ago that it cost me quite a bit more than that $1500 but it still seems to work as well today as the day I unboxed it. I read online reviews about picture quality and reliability extensively before purchasing it (It was a few hundred dollars more than some other brands).

  14. Overheal says:

    OP I would try again and focus on the fact that the unit is overheating and presents an electrical hazard. Even better if you can document that along with them telling you to “simply ignore it” and keep using the TV. You can then make them feel quite liable if the thing bursts into flames and I’d say that would be plenty prudent to make them change their minds.

    There is also Small Claims Court.

    This is one of these types of “Customer Service Hell” that is avoidable with retail protection plans but agreeably this is a pretty freak issue, and only 6 months in the onus should really be on Panasonic to man up and fix it. But yes in my personal experience it’s taken at least a week each time I’ve ever tried to act on a manufacturer’s warranty, and those were the good cases. Don’t be surprised if it takes 2-3 weeks to win your argument and at that you might still have to go to small claims court.

  15. jpdanzig says:

    I am very sorry to hear that Panasonic seems to be getting a case of the “Samsung — Who Cares About Our Customers?” flu. After hearing all the ways the Korean TV giant keeps weaseling out of their warranty responsibilities, I had thought that the Japanese companies would still treat their customers honorably. Apparently not…

  16. NumberSix says:

    Sharpie; fixed. He did say “dead” would be acceptable, right?

    Also, $1500 for a plasma? Plasma? Who buys those anymore?

  17. Lyn Torden says:

    The industry says that a few bad pixels happens in less than one tenth of one percent of cases. If that is so, then they could raise the price by one half of one percent ($7.50 for a $1500 model) and come out ahead financially AND have a better reputation with full replacement for even a single bad pixel.

    Or stores could offer “bad pixel” warranty contracts at that price and still make a profit.

  18. NorthAlabama says:

    get a nice tabletop projection…and you’ll be pixel free, get to keep 3D, add DLP, and have better color and picture as a result.

    did i mention you can just about double the screen size for less money than you paid? of course, no hanging it on the wall…

    • scoosdad says:

      How is a projector pixel-free? Even if it’s DLP technology, those little bits of the picture are still created by micromirrors that can get stuck just like pixels in LCDs.

  19. scoosdad says:

    What does this flickering pixel look like on a brighter screen (something other than the totally black background on this Dish Network screen saver image in the YouTube clip)? I know it’s hard to ignore on that kind of background, but sometimes these pixels aren’t so bad when the background is lighter and constantly changing as the video behind them fluctuates. There are a couple on my computer monitors that I only notice when the screen is completely black.

  20. MECmouse says:

    That’s why you don’t buy plasma. There’s no way to fix it from what I’ve been told by salespeople!