Blog posts by Melinda Byerley.  See more at Medium. 

Vizio HDTV: So much for a Good Deal

The Background

In May of 2008, we purchased a Vizio 47 inch LCD 1080p Television set from Costco for $1300. This was our first high def TV and we spent months researching to find the best balance of cost and quality.

Up until last Sunday night I would have told you we were very happy with the product and we have encouraged numerous others to purchase a Vizio.

We had come home after spending the day with family to catch up on the football game we’d missed.  Not 30 minutes into the program, we heard a loud click, and the smell of fire pervaded the room. It was truly frightening, we were worried about a fire, and I was worried we’d be electrocuted if I tried to unplug the set.

The Vizio Pop of Death

After getting the set unplugged, I did some search and discovered the phrase “Vizio Pop of Death.” Go ahead and click to search, I’ll wait. (there are 750,000 results for the search term). There was even a fire reported.

Yet, I discovered there was likely no fix for the unit and since it was out of warranty we were probably out of luck. On the off chance that Vizio would be an upstanding company I took the trouble to call them first thing the next morning.

First, they would not help me without proof of purchase, and we had thrown the receipt away once the warranty was expired. A 30 minute call to Costco (who was great, by the way, even though we are no longer members) and the purchase was confirmed. THEN the rep explained that “due to the smoke” they wanted me to talk to a safety person. Multiple times I was asked to confirm that I had no fire or smoke damage and they seemed quite concerned about this. I am an honest person so I didn’t lie about any damage. At this point I was told a safety person would contact me and from here on out, there was only email.

Attached below is the correspondence. Names and contact info are redacted.

Jan 16th:

Dear Melinda, Thank you for your reply.  Our warehouse engineers have reviewed your case and what we can do is either:  send a local technician to check the inside of the tv, replace parts if the issue is repairable and do diagnostic testing while in your home-we can offer you a split cost repair on this at a flat rate to you of $165.00. This would also be dependent on part availability on your Vizio.  Otherwise, we can check stock of a recertified tv we can see to you. Let me know which route you would prefer to go. If you have any questions, let me know. 

My reply:

What would the cost of the recertified TV be and what warranty is with it?  this is not a decision, we just want to know our options. 

 Vizio response:

Hi Melinda,

I am following up on your case.  You have 30 days from today to take advantage of the following.  You can call xxxxx   and refer to your case # if you want this offer.

 VIZIO would like to offer the M470VT-B at $575 delivered plus applicable taxes. This will carry a 90 day warranty and the customer does have an option to upgrade to 4 additional years of extended service coverage through our ESP offerings. This offer is based on inventory availability at the time of the sales transaction (The model offered is subject to change but specifications will always be equal to or better than the TV offered).

 **Please share that the unit will be delivered using a "Thresh Hold Service" meaning the TV will only be brought into the home (additional cost will be added to the sale for upgraded shipping or TV returns).

** IF the customer accepts this offer VIZIO does NOT want the original TV in return**

 We appreciate your business!

The replacement TV if you look it up, is an LED. But we didnt want to spend so much money right now. Could we get a smaller TV?  My response:

We spent $1300 to buy this TV 3 years and 9 months. plus tax.

 What else is available? After the inconvenience that was caused us, we'd like to see some more options at a lower cost, since our desire to spend this much money on your product is much diminished after our experience. Especially since the warranty is so short and you have given no indication of the cost of whatever "ESP" is.

 Thank you

 Their response:

Thank you for your reply. This is the offer I have, from what is available. It is a price, delivered. If you check around this model is valued at $999.99 not including shipping and handling.

We can leave this offer open 30 days for you and you are welcome to call XXXX and inquire to the ESP “Extended Service Plan.” Did you purchase an ESP for your VO47LFHDTV10A?  Please check your original purchase receipt to confirm. Also, depending on the method of payment, some credit card/debit cards offer 1 year warranty extensions on electronic equipment.

Also, you were offered a split cost repair option, even thought your tv is well beyond the scope of the Vizio Limited Warranty. If you would prefer to go the repair route, let me know.

Thank you,

So here’s the math:

Vizio #1—brand new-- cost per year:  $1300/3.75 years =$346.66 (came with 2 year warranty)

Proposed Vizio #2 –refurbished--cost per year:  $575 (comes with 90 day warranty, so we must assume the TV isn’t as reliable and will only last 1 year).

It's unreasonable for a consumer to pay $1300 for a product that dies in less than 4 years.  This isn't a toaster.

Because of the poor lifetime of this set, and Vizio's refusal to stand by their product, there’s absolutely no possible way I could justify ever buying any Vizio product again and I do not encourage others to do so either.

Living without Vizio--it is possible!

As for us, we are living without a TV at present and enjoying watching Amazon prime streaming as well as Netflix DVDs on our laptops.  We watch free Hulu and The Daily Show is available online for free as well. If this continues, we may even cancel our DirecTV subscription.  They should pay close attention because I doubt I am the only one who will joyfully discover life with less TV.

If we do go forward, We will purchase a very low quality, small TV for the future, ensure a 2 year warranty, and will never, ever spend this much money on a High Def television again.

Not to mention, think of all the crappy TVs now headed for landfills, exacerbating the e-waste problem. I gave away a working CRT TV when we bought this. I had paid $200 for it nearly 20 years ago. And, don't you wonder exactly why they seemed so concerned about my report of smoke and fire? I was left wondering if there have been reports of fire that we don't know about.

This is not a purchase I can feel good about as someone who cares about our environment.

I just thought you should all know too.

P.S. This guy had another good way of dealing with the problem, too: