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More Than 7 Million Samsung TVs Plagued By Possible Power Defect

MIAMI (CBS4) - TV on! TV off! That's what most of us expect a new TV to do. Phil Heermance certainly did when he bought his 40-inch Samsung LCD TV in 2009.

"About a-year-and-a-half into owning the TV, it started acting up," Heermance told CBS4' Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine.

He told Sunshine that it acted erratic... not always coming on... or taking long periods to power up. That was the same complaint thousands of Samsung owners described on the Internet. Their "nearly new" Samsung TV..." was taking 30-seconds, then 30-minutes, or even longer to come on.

"So you try to turn it on and what happened after a while?" asked Sunshine.

"It would just not come on at all," replied Heermance.

Because his manufacturers warranty had expired, Heermance figured Samsung wouldn't help... so he paid $150 to get it fixed on his own.

TV repairman, Cliff Van Allen, showed CBS4 the tiny part causing so many Samsung TV power  failures. It's called a "capacitor." Basically, it's a power storage device.

"It's not because it's an inferior product. It's because the voltage (on the capacitor) is not enough to do the job, said Van Allen, who owns Video Cleaning Repair in Miami.

Rosemary's shop has also seen a wave of Samsung capacitor problems.

"The power boards are made with capacitors that don't hold up," Rosemary said.

Capacitors are only a $3 to $6 part. So cheap, "Fix It Youself" videos are even on YouTube

"It seemed to be a common problem and I was surprised to hear that," said Heermance, who owns other Samsung products.

Class Action Lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey, California and Oklahoma. Although Samsung wouldn't tell us how many TVs are affected... CBS4 Investigates obtained an Oklahoma Court document from a hearing on February 1, 2012. It quotes Samsung's attorney, Phillip G. Whaley, telling the court...

"Well, I think there'll be as many as seven-and-a-half million of them out there. So it could be a big class." (class action lawsuit).

A Samsung statement sent to CBS4 said...

"A small percentage of certain models of Samsung televisions have experienced performance issues caused by a component called a capacitor.  Since originally confirming this issue in early 2010, Samsung has voluntarily provided free repairs for U.S. customers with affected televisions.

As the leading supplier of televisions in the United States, we remain committed to delivering superior technology and excellent service to our loyal customers.  We encourage our customers to call 1-800-SAMSUNG if they experience any problems with Samsung products.

We have recently reached a preliminary settlement, subject to court approval, for a nationwide resolution of a related class action lawsuit in the District Court of Oklahoma County in the state of Oklahoma. Under the settlement, Samsung will continue to offer the free repairs that have already been extended to affected consumers.  A second class action lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in late 2010, has been administratively terminated by that court."

- Samsung Electronics America

Click Here To Read Preliminary List of Samsung Models

"Thank God there are people out there who say, 'I'm not taking that!' I paid my money. It should not die in 2-years," said Van Allen.

Rosemary added, "I don't fault the sellers. I fault the manufacturers. The manufacturers have to know that they're putting crap out there. I can tell you that it's not only Samsung."

As our repair techs point out, no matter what brand of TV you buy, today's TVs aren't being made to last long.

Remember your mom and dad's TV that lasted 15, even 20-years? They were big, boxy and remarkably reliable. Well today's TV is NOT your parents TV.

Rosemary demonstrated using a 2009 big screen TV. As she knocked on the TV screen as if she were knocking on a door... she exclaimed, "Paper!"

Then she knocked on the screen of a 1998 TV.

"Tempered glass. You need a hammer to break that."

She also showed us a TV that recently came into her shop and can't be repaired. It was bought on Black Friday just two months ago. According to Rosemary, while moving it, the owner used her shoulder to brace it. The indentation on the screen is the result of a tender-leaning shoulder and nothing more.

"You buy a 50-inch Plasma set, you probably paid $4,000 to $5,000, and you're looking two to three years after, and you can't fix it? Ridiculous!" Rosemary declared.

In the TV graveyards that exist at both repair shops CBS4 visited, there were stacks of expensive TVs... abandoned for what can only be called "pre-mature failure," according to our repair techs.

"I don't think a panel should be bad in 2 1/2 years! A panel shouldn't be bad in 10-years. But it is," Van Allen told us as he showed us big screen TV.

And Samsung's not alone. Another TV was left by its owner at Cliff's shop. Why? The repair would be more than the original cost of the TV.

"This thing should be on the guy's wall still," Van Allen lamented.

"In my opinion," said Rosemary, "basically the TVs today are obsolete after two years because the parts are changed."

That's right. According to our CBS4 investigation, only five states require manufacturers to make parts available longer than two to three years. Those states are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Rhode Island and New Hampshire... NOT Florida.

But consumers aren't blameless noted Van Allen. "You know, everyone wants the latest and greatest and they don't think... will this last?"

It's not just Samsung. Most television manufacturers have had all kinds of issues with Plasma TVs, DLP TVs, LCD TVs... and now repair shops tell CBS4 Investigates, they are bracing for customers buying the new LED TVs

Additional Statements from Samsung Electronics America:

On February 1, 2012, preliminary approval was officially granted on the settlement of Russell, et al. v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc., in the District Court of Oklahoma County in the state of Oklahoma. A similar lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in late 2010, was administratively dismissed by the court.

The Oklahoma settlement reaffirms that Samsung's efforts to voluntarily repair affected products for consumers since early 2010, have been appropriate for the situation.  In addition, Samsung will compensate any consumers who have already made repairs at their own expense.  A nationwide announcement will be made in the coming weeks explaining the steps consumers need to take if they believe they have an affected product.   For your information and reference we have attached the summary notice of that decision, which has been on the public record since the settlement was reached. 

As the leading supplier of televisions in the United States we remain committed to delivering superior technology and excellent service to our loyal customers.  We encourage our customers to call 1-800-SAMSUNG if they experience any problems with Samsung products.

"The problem does not affect current models so there is no need to contact retailers."

"Affected consumers will receive a notice as provided for in the settlement agreement, once approved by the court. Per Samsung's standard policy, in-home repairs are offered for all sizes above 32". For 32" and smaller, products must be shipped to NJ, but Samsung will cover all costs (in both directions)."

"Also, once the settlement is approved a process will be put into place to compensate consumers who have already paid for a repair."


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