A Tale of Two Televisions

This is an epic tale.

Yesterday our Vizio VX37L died. Jaime attempted to turn the TV on and it wouldn’t power up. It has this logo in the front that is amber when powered off and lights white when powered on. I noticed that the logo wasn’t even amber, which was a bad sign. When I unplugged and replugged the TV, the logo would light up amber, but quickly faded. Not good.

I tried all the simple things (unplug, wait 10 seconds, replug, etc) but nothing changed. Jaime had done a bit of online digging and other people had seen this issue exactly as we are seeing. The only solution for them was to find an authorized Vizio serviceperson. /sigh It would probably cost us $200-300 to get this fixed after parts and labor, so we were going to look for a new TV.

Before we left, I decided I would go ahead and look for some folks who self-repaired this issue. I found a thread talking about the power logic board being at fault when this exact scenario happens. Apparently if you can find one for a decent price, you can do this fix yourself, but it’s not for the weak of heart. I’m a tinkerer so this doesn’t phase me at all.

So, I’m churning through this repair thread and it abruptly ends with a “Nevermind, was able to return the TV to Costco!”

This caught my attention as we purchased out TV from Costco, but it was in January of 2007, and at that time this TV cost a whopping $899! So this repair thread became a “How did that work?” thread where many others were asking this gentleman how he was able to return the TV, how long he had it, etc. Turns out he had bought his TV in 2005 and was able to return in in 2008!

THAT IS CRAZY! So, I read on. Apparently Costco’s original return policy didn’t have any time limits, meaning you could return products ANY time after purchase for the full price! He mentioned that the manager at Costco told him that if the TV was purchased more than 4 years prior, it would have required manager approval, but his TV was only 3 years old, so it wasn’t as issue.

Our TV was less that 4 years old, so why not see if we can get this to work, maybe the internet will be correct! So, I call Costco.com’s customer service line and it turns out they couldn’t find that information, and they gave me the number of our local costco (which is barely local to us, but that’s beside the point). I call in and the manager seems very confounded, which I was expecting due to the nature of my request. Here’s how our conversation went:

Me: I would like to return a television, please.
Him: Okay, do you have a receipt?
Me: No, it’s been a long time since we’ve purchased this television.
Him: More than 90 days?
Me: Significantly more actually.
Him: Well, when did you buy it?
Me: Early 2007
Him: How early?
Me: January (at this point I think I am going to be told that I can take a hike)
Him: Let me look it up [waiting for a minute] A 37 inch Vizio?
Me: Yes
Him: Sure, you can return that. Just bring all the cables, remote, etc. and we’ll take care of it
Me: Really?
Him: Yup.
Me: We are on our way!

I still had my doubts, but we trekked up to the Costco and got the same strange look from the lady at returns, who then started some paperwork and ended up handing us a Costco cash card with $962 on it. The total purchase price and tax paid on the TV ALMOST FOUR YEARS AGO!!!!!

We were so shocked. So, we went over to their electronics department and after Jaime talked me out of another Vizio (but it was 55 inches! :-P), we ended up snagging the last of their Sony 46″ KDL-46EX701 models ( http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666077677 ). This model is no longer in production as Sony has moved to their 2011 TVs, but it has loads of features, a beautiful picture, and a 3 year warranty! Best part, it was on clearance for $899!

So we basically traded in out 3 year old 37″ 720p Vizio LCD TV for a brand new 46″ 1080p Sony LED/LCD TV.

As a final note, Costco revised their return policy sometime in 2007 to limit returns on most products to 90 days, so this plan will no longer work. 😦


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jessica says:

    SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Chalk one up for the good guys!!! 🙂 XO

  2. Matt Doudt says:

    Hey Chris,

    We sometimes work 10-day events at Costco with Yamaha pianos. All you say is true as long as you’ve kept your Costco membership intact for the entire time since you purchased the TV. If you let it slip, then your return policy becomes void. I do know that they’ve limited the return now on electronics but I think a good part of everything else they sell is still covered. I know we were allowed to share this with customers who purchased pianos but only if they asked. We weren’t supposed to tell everyone they could return the piano at any point for a full refund but I think they can. Yamaha was only on the hook to take the piano back for 30 days. After that, Costco had to deal with the return.

    We had a manager explain the policy to us by saying that Costco makes a lot more money in membership fees every year than they pay out in returns. The continuous membership clause catches a lot of people. He shared about a guy who purchased an entire office of furniture for a business from Costco. After several years the business went broke and he returned all the office furniture and got all his money back. Crazy!

    Great Story! Its kind of one of those secrets you’re afraid to talk about because if people start abusing it, it will probably go away! On the other hand, maybe it will bring in more membership fees. Peace!

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