It took an Executive Email Carpet Bomb to convince Best Buy to replace Bryan’s Panasonic LiFi LCD Projection TV after it ate through four lamps. Bryan had purchased Best Buy’s extended warranty, which contains a no lemon clause that promises a replacement after three failed repairs. Best Buy conveniently insisted that replacing the broken lamp did not count as a “qualified repair.” Bryan first escalated his complaint through normal channels; when he had no other choice, he launched the mighty EECB.
About 18 months ago I purchased a new HDTV from Best Buy and also purchased the extended service plan (stupid I know, but this was before I started reading Consumerist). I purchased this specific TV because the light source was supposed to last for 5 years and even came with a 5yr warranty. Well, as it turns out the light didn’t last nearly 5 years. It conked out after 6 months. I thought maybe it was just a bad part so I spent about a month in the Geek Squad repair cycle and had it replaced. The TV worked great for about another 6 months, when the light source died again. I again went through the Geek Squad repair maze and about a month later the TV was fixed. This time the light source broke within 1 week of the repair. Ok, I was irritated before but now I am getting mad. Luckily this time I was on vacation and the TV was repaired before I got back home. Another 6 months later and the light source broke for the 4th time.
I decided to contact Best Buy and request a replacement under their “no lemon” clause of the extended warranty. After all I have had 4 failures of the TV and that is what it takes under the policy to get replaced. To my dismay, but not unexpected, a Best Buy CSR left a message on my cell phone denying my claim. He said the light source was not a qualified part under the policy. The next day I called Best Buy to investigate the denial. The CSR I spoke to repeated that the light source was not a qualified repair. Knowing I would not get anywhere I immediately asked to speak with a supervisor. I very much thought my call would get disconnected right then but to my surprise a supervisor was on the line in less than a minute. I went back and forth with him for about 10 minutes about the policy and why it should qualify. Needless to say he would not budge from the “not qualified” line so I ended our conversation.
This is when I decided to take The Consumerist’s advise and write an EECB to Best Buy. Less than 24 hours later I was contacted by the Executive Relations Specialist. She said that she would be looking into my issue and would contact me soon. To my complete shock and amazement the Executive Relations Specialist contacted me less than a week later and said that my replacement had been approved. She supplied me with an exchange number to take to any Best Buy to get a new TV. I can even use the original purchase price as credit towards a different TV.
Below are the email that I sent to the Best Buy Executives and their responses. Thanks Consumerist!
Bryan sent one of the better EECBs we’ve ever read. It’s clear, direct, and earns the reader’s sympathy. He wrote:
I would like to begin by thanking you for taking the time to read my letter and for taking the necessary steps necessary to resolve my situation. Please know that I am not taking writing to you directly lightly. I have tried to resolve my issue through both Geek Squad and Best Buy customer service on many occasions. Being unable to resolve my issue through normal channels I feel that I have no other option but appeal to you directly.
I have been a loyal Best Buy customer for many years and am a Preferred Silver member of your Reward Zone program. I have been very pleased with the level of customer service that I have received from your stores, until now. My story begins when I bought a 56″ Panasonic LiFi LCD Projection TV on January 3, 2008 along with the Performance Service Plan #XXXXXXXXX (a copy of the receipt is attached). I selected this specific television because both Best Buy and Panasonic claimed that the LiFi light source in the television had an expected life of 20,000 hours and “lasts so long you may never need to change it.”
Sadly, over the year and a half that I have owned the TV is has fallen vastly short of living up to its claims. Only six months after purchasing the TV the LiFi light source on went out and needed to be replaced. Approximately six months after that the LiFi light source failed again requiring another replacement. This time the LiFi light source only lasted a single week before it went out again and needed another replacement. Just recently, the LiFi blight source failed again and requires another replacement. This is the fourth time in a year and a half that the LiFi light source has failed and needed replacement (receipts for all repairs are attached). During the last service call the Geek Squad technician conducted a performance test on the TV to verify that no other components were causing the problems. He established, and verified with Panasonic, that there were no other problems with the TV causing the LiFi light source to fail.
At this point I contacted Best Buy customer service to fail a claim under the “No Lemon” policy of the PSP for a replacement TV. The representative who took my claim was very helpful and told me a confirmation number would be sent in 3-5 business days that can be used to obtain a replacement. However, instead of a confirmation number a representative named “Brian” called me on 7/3/09 to inform me that my claim had been denied.
On 7/7/09 I contacted Best Buy customer service again to inquire as to why my claim had been denied. I first spoke with “Chava” who informed me that a technician had determined that the TV was repairable and therefore not eligible for replacement. Upon hearing this I asked to be transferred to a manager for further clarification. I then spoke with “Matt” who I spoke with for 20 minutes regarding my situation. During our conversation Matt gave several contradictory excuses for why my TV was not eligible for a “No Lemon” replacement. Below I will discuss each of Matt’s arguments separately.
1) Matt: If the technician determines the TV to be repairable then it does not have to be replaced.
a. Under the PSP is specifically states “After three qualified (3) service repairs have been completed on an individual product and that individual product requires a fourth qualified (4th) repair, as determined by us, we will replace it with a product of comparable performance of like kind and quality not to exceed the original purchase amount.” The PSP does not give the option to continue repairing the TV after the 4th repair. It only gives the option for replacement.
2) Matt in response to above: The LiFi light source is not a qualified repair as it is a “consumable part” because it is a “bulb.”
a. The LiFi light source is not a consumable part as defined by the PSP. It does not have electrodes that deteriorate with time like a traditional projection bulb. It is designed to not be consumable and last the life of the TV.
b. The LiFi light source is not considered a “bulb” in other parts of the PSP, and therefore should not qualify as such under the “No Lemon” policy.
i. The PSP states that it will only “One (1) bulb replacement for DLP, Projection LCD TVs and Home Theater Projectors of your original bulb during the term of this plan” will be approved.”
ii. However, the LiFi light source has already been approved for replacement under the PSP three times. This shows that the LiFi light source is not considered a “bulb” under the PSP.
Needless to say, Matt was not able to resolve my issue with the perpetually broken TV which is why I am writing to you. Over the past year and a half that I have owned the TV it has been broken and inoperable approximately 20% of the time. In order to get the TV repaired I have taken 4 full days off of work to be available for the Geek Squad service technician. These constant repairs have cost me a great deal of lost income and entertainment time; time and money that should never have been lost if the TV was not a “Lemon.”
The bottom line is that the TV is not living up to the claims made by Best Buy and Panasonic when I purchased it. The LiFi light source in the TV has failed four times in the past year and each time needed to be replaced. I purchased the additional Performance Service Plan to protect me from this exact situation but am now being denied my rights under the agreement.
I ask that you please look into my situation and rectify the egregious error. I am not asking for anything more then what is rightfully owed to me under the PSP; a replacement of the faulty TV through the “No Lemon” policy of the PSP. I would even be willing to accept a refund of the original purchase price of the TV in the form of a Best Buy gift card so I can purchase a replacement myself.
Again, I thank you for taking the time to read my letter and address the issues that are raised within it. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx or email address.
An executive resolution specialist responded with a promise to look into his case:
Good morning Bryan,
I wanted to reach out to you surrounding the email you had sent to a few of our executives and leadership yesterday afternoon. Please allow me to address your concerns on their behalf.
I am truly sorry to hear about the number of times the LiFi light has had to be replaced within your Panasonic LiFi Projection TV in the last
18 months or so. I can understand your disappointment and I regret the inconvenience these issues must have caused. Normally, projection lights are considered bulbs/lamps which although may be covered under your Plan, does not count toward No Lemon.
However I would like to take the opportunity to partner with the local leadership to see what resolution we may be able to offer. I will reach back in touch with you again soon.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns in the mean time.
Executive Resolution Specialist
She quickly followed up with an offer to replace the defective television:
I wanted to reach back out to you. I received an email late yesterday advising me that we were able to approve your TV for exchange. Your confirmation number is xxxxxxx.
You may go to the store immediately to have the exchange performed.
Please be sure to bring your confirmation number and receipt if possible. If you no longer have a copy of the receipt then you can refer to your Customer Service Pin which will allow the store to locate the transaction. The pin is xxxxxxxxxx.
Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.
Executive Resolution Specialist
Learn how to launch your own EECB by reading this post.
(Photo: The Joy Of The Mundane)