Back in July 2004
, my wife and I purchased the "big screen"
at Circuit City. Understanding that the TV utilized a relatively new technology (second-generation DLP), we felt it
was prudent to purchase the extended warranty for $599.99. It sounds like a lot, but it provided "protection" for 5
years (about $10/month).
The nature of the DLP TV technology is that the image never "ages". The image always looks as good as the day you
brought the TV home. The only maintenance necessary is to replace the lamp every 6,000 hours or so, much like traditional
projectors. The lamp doesn't dim over a long period of time, either. Once the lamp starts to dim, you can expect
it to go out completely within just a few hours. So it's a good idea to keep a spare handy. The protection plan
also covers lamps for the full 5 years, and at $250 a piece, that was a no-brainer. I still purchased a spare lamp, because
you obviously have to wait for Circuit City to ship you a new one, and during that time, no TV.
Now for the moment of truth...Saturday, January 13, I woke to find the TV unable to start up.
The typical sounds associated with it's usual startup procedures weren't there. I replaced the lamp, although I doubted
it was the culprit as the lamp has nothing to do with the sounds the fans and color wheel make when starting up. As
expected, the lamp replacement did nothing. While replacing the old lamp back into the TV, I peeked along the light
patch and noted the color wheel appeared to be broken (it's made of glass or acrylic). This is a major failure and means
a licensed service technician is needed.
So I waited until the Circuit City Advantage Protection office opened and described the failure to the representative.
After answering all of her troubleshooting questions, she agreed that a repair was needed. She informed me that a service
technician would be dispatched to my home. It was at this time that she explained the true meaning of "in-home service".
It doesn't mean that the technician will repair the TV "in my home" but rather will come to my home to pick up the TV and
transport it to a depot. Only rarely is a simple repair actually performed in the home. After placing
me on hold briefly, she then provided more discouraging news..."I am unable to identify a vendor in your area, therefore I
will have to turn this matter over to a backup support team. A member of this team will contact you with the name of
a vendor and arrangements for repair within 48-72 hours." (keep in mind this was Saturday).
My patience thin, Monday, January 15, I called the "escalations" department. I was told that a
vendor was yet to be identified and to "wait a few more days". I kindy, but firmly expressed my dissatisfaction and
asked what could be done to expedite this process. The representative said that nothing else could be done as I was
speaking with the "escalations" department. He said that I could find a repair shop on my own and I would be reimbursed.
I told him that was exactly what I purchased the extended warranty for---to avoid having to concern myself with such matters.
He then told me someone would be contacting me within 24-48 hours.
The next day, I received an email from Circuit City stating that my repair would be handled by a vendor
[that will remain nameless to protect the innocent]. The email stated the vendor would be contacting me within 24 hours,
but a direct phone number was provided. I therefore called the vendor and was promptly told, "we don't work on Samsung's".
So, I called Circuit City's "escalations" department again and explained the issue. Guess what I was told...go on, guess?
"Someone will be contacting you in 24-48 hours."
Friday, January 19, I received another email from Circuit City again stating that my repair would be
handled by a vendor that will remain nameless. I called the vendor's direct number. The person who answered the
phone doesn't actually do the repairs, but seemed knowledgable. I mean, he at least knew what a color wheel was.
He told me it would be "early next week" before someone could come out. I expected this since it was Friday.
The moral of this story is...before purchasing a Circuit City Advantage Protection Plan, be prepared
for a long wait if your TV breaks...unless , of course, you live in a metropolis with TV repair shops nearby.