What's Wrong With Flat- Screen TVs?

A TV repairman says today's flat-screen TVs are poorly designed

If you have a flat-screen TV and it's operated perfectly in the years that you have had it, you might count yourself lucky. Problems with flat screens, almost regardless of the brand, show up in hundreds of reviews submitted to ConsumerAffairs.com.

“I have horizontal colored lines filling the screen,” Mandy, of Mokena, Ill., told ConsumerAffairs.com this week. “Pushing the on button causes the TV to turn on and off continuously, only stopping when unplugged.”

Mandy said she bought her Samsung TV in March 2009, paying nearly $2,000. She was told it could cost about half that to have it fixed.


Mandy's complaint is echoed by others, who say they can't understand why their expensive TV sets only last two years or so before needing major repair. Dave Maltz, who owns Dave's TV Repair in Grants Pass, Ore., hears many of the same complaints and is very familiar with the problem.

“This is a new technology that still has a number of flaws,” Maltz told ConsumerAffairs.com.

Poor design

For starters, Maltz, who has been repairing TV sets for 17 years, isn't a big fan of how most of these sets are designed.

“If you took apart one of these things, you would be amazed at how many components they're trying to compress into a six inch space,” he said.

And because they are so many, they are extremely small, making it hard – and expensive – to work on these sets. Maltz has produced a number of YouTube videos about repairing flat screen TVs, including the one below in which he conducted a poll on how long flat-screen TVs last. Six years was as long as anyone owned a trouble-free set.

Capacitor plague

Some problems are easier to repair than others. For example blown capacitors – a common problem affecting power to the set – are cheaper to repair than display problems.

“Because of the tiny connections, repairing a problem with the display can be difficult and expensive,” Maltz said.

Plasma sets, he says, are especially expensive to repair.

While replacing capacitors is not all that complicated, it might not be required so often if manufacturers used higher quality parts. The capacitors on many sets are cheap. Why?

“There's a lot of competition among manufacturers to sell the cheapest TVs,” Maltz said.

Little consolation

That's not a lot of consolation to consumers like Tim, of Pittsburgh, Pa., who says his Sony developed purple and yellow lines in the display one week out of warranty. Matthew, of Watertown, N.Y., says his 50 inch Sanyo plasma no longer works.

“I have had this TV for only a little over a year,” Matthew said. “I bought the extended warranty but Walmart says it is not their problem. I was directed to the web site. I called the number but of course no one was there. What is the problem? Who can I call to fix it? Did I pay $1000 dollars for a paper weight?”

In Matthew's case, it might just be a case of replacing some capacitors. For others, it might not pay to have it repaired.

“When customers ask me if they should repair their sets, I usually tell them if they're had it for five years, it probably isn't worth it,” Maltz said.

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