Flying Wiimote Trashes TV, Discover Makes Loss Less Painful

Stephen broke his new LCD TV the old-fashioned way: his 6-year-old son flung a Wiimote into it. Oh, well, sucks to be him, right? He called around looking for some way out of paying to replace the set, a 46″ Sony Bravia that cost more than $900 with tax. Homeowner’s insurance? Nope. He didn’t buy a warranty from Best Buy when purchasing the TV, and a Geek Squad warranty wouldn’t have covered this damage. Time to just go buy a new TV? Not so fast! One of his Facebook friends was savvy enough to tell Stephen to check with his credit card company.

So, long intro short, my 6-year-old kid did what they do in the commercial… playing baseball on Wii, he threw the Wiimote into my brand new 46″ Sony Bravia LCD
HDTV. Bought it 2 weeks before Xmas as a gift for ourselves ($899 + tax) from my local Best Buy; I ADORED this TV, after months of careful research and soul-searching, it was my first entry into the snazzy world of flat screens and HD goodness. 3 weeks after Christmas, it’s toast. Pic attached. He *said* he had the wiimote strap on, but that it just wasn’t tight enough…

Like any responsible consumer, I talk to Best Buy. They (twice) laughed in my face, once on the phone and once again in person, at me asking if this damage is covered. Nope. Thank God I didn’t spring for the extra Geek Squad warranty, this would not have been covered anyways. No sweat.

Talk to my homeowner’s insurance agent; again, no dice; accidental damage isn’t covered (although if it got hit by lightning, or a burglar threw the wiimote at it, it would have been). In any case, since our deductible is $1000, wouldn’t have made sense to make a claim anyways. No sweat.

On a whim, post the whole sad encounter to Facebook, asking friends for any idears. Some less-ethical folks suggested buying another exact model from BB and packing the ruined one in the box, and returning it. That wouldn’t work for a variety of technical reasons (matching serial numbers on box and TV, for example), nor would I because it’s a shitty thing to do.

But somebody did have an idea, that eventually turned out to be awesome: Call your credit card; as it were, I charged this Discover, and lo and behold, they cover damage like this for any product up to 180 days after purchase. They have a third party insurer to handle claims (“Cambridge Integrated Services Group, Inc”), but it was no problem.

Everyone I talked to at Discover and Cambridge was immensely helpful. Had to assemble and fill out quite a bit of paperwork — no different than any insurance claim– but I could submit it electronically, rather a low-hassle affair. In the end, got the maximum $500 back in less than 2 working weeks.

Upshot of the story, is kudos to Discover and Cambridge for having this benefit, standing behind it, and actually making it easy to use. It was bad enough we (my son) screwed up; I have no problem admitting total defeat along those lines. When I found about the policy from Discover, I expected the worst in corporate behavior (stonewalling, obfuscation, leading to denials of a claim, escalation, CEO-bombing, etc), but in the end the ease of the process and satisfying conclusion made it feel like a WIN. Yay! to Discover.

As a side note, for making the claim to Cambridge, an estimate from an authorized repair shop is required; in the process of getting that, my local shop found out that Sony doesn’t even make replacement LCD screens any more for this TV. I just bought it at Christmas, and they’ve already End-of-Life’d the parts for it? Big *WTF* on that. Sidebar: Boo! to Sony….

The first and shattered HDTV love of my life is down in the basement, in the original box; but she only was a $400 mistake instead of a $900 one.

Excellent. This is why it can be a good idea to make major purchases on a credit card, then immediately pay it off. It can provide extra protection that you didn’t know you had (as in this case) or extends your warranty protection beyond the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.