Cracked TV: Who is responsible?

Cracked TV: Who is responsible?

If you buy a new TV and when you remove the packaging at home, you discover the screen is cracked, who is responsible? Well, that depends. Best to get clued up on how to avoid such a horror show in the first place. Wendy Knowler explains how in today’s Consumerwatch.


Listen to the audio here or read below: 

It is sadly not uncommon for someone to wrestle the packaging off their brand new flat-screen TV, only to find that the screen is cracked. 

This week, Bonita Hughes, the complaints manager at the Ombud for Consumer Goods and Services, told me that the office has been getting a lot of complaints about that.

“These TVs are tested in-store upon leaving the store or tested upon delivery but shortly thereafter consumers complain that the TVs have a cracked screen, and consumers have various reasons and explanations of why they are not to blame for the damage to the TV,” she said.

“They believe the way the store handles the TV when taking it out of the box, to show the consumers the TV is working, and the way they re-package the goods are the reason the TVs are damaged.

"They also say the boxes and manuals give inadequate instructions on how to handle fragile TVs."

But proving where, when and how the physical damage happened is the tricky part. 

Hughes said the Ombud’s office can’t determine what causes the damage and because it’s physical damage, they can’t instruct the suppliers to honour the Consumer Protection Act’s six-month warranty by refunding, replacing or repairing the broken TVs.

The thing is, a lot can go wrong with a TV set from the time the salesman demonstrates that it’s working just fine, to the time you switch it on in your lounge - leaving you with no recourse.

Not unless you thought to insure it before you left the shop. Which I strongly advise, by the way!

The salespeople take those TVs out of their boxes in the shop and switch them on to prove that they are in perfect working order, for the sole purpose of being able to say “not our fault” if the screen is cracked or there is some other form of damage by the time you get home. 

Consumers are entitled to return defective goods within six months of purchase for their choice of a refund, replacement or repair, but not if the damage or the fault was caused by them, rather than the supplier.

As for what’s causing those cracks, the Ombud’s office says the most common cracks form around the edges of TVs from finger pressure as their new owners struggle to remove it from the packaging.

So recently, the office issued a guide to consumers on how to avoid damaging your TV before you’ve had a chance to switch it on for the first time.

The guide states:

- Consider and research the size and weight of the packaging plus TV and plan for appropriate transport in advance. You could damage the delicate thing by trying to shove it into your small car.
- Carry extra pillows to cushion and support the TV if transported in your back seat of your car.
- When in store, read the handling/transport guide on the packaging before picking up the TV.
- Ensure that two people, and preferably not you and your young child, handle the TV at all times.
- Ensure the trolley can accommodate the TV properly.
- Do not lie the TV flat in the trolley. 
- Be careful that nothing strikes the TV packaging, as this could damage the TV.
- Be careful not to bump any object when pushing the trolley.
- Push the trolley slowly and carefully over any bumps on the mall floor or parking lot surface.

If using a truck or van for large TVs:

- Put down a moving blanket to protect, create a cushion and prevent damage.
- Carefully lift the television and place it on the blanket. Keep the television box upright at all times.
- Place it firmly against the side of the truck bed.
- Pull the cargo straps across the box, don’t twist them and tighten enough to prevent movement, but no so much that you could cause damage.
- If using your back seat of your car for smaller TVs, pull the seatbelt across the TV set and buckle it in to secure it in an upright position.
- Slide the front passenger seat back so the headrest is in front of the box. This helps minimize potential damage if you hit bumps in the road. Use pillows to cushion the TV all around. 
- Check that the television is secure and won’t slide out or wobble.

When assembling your TV in your home:

- Have two people handle the TV when carrying it from your car to your home, as well as during assembly. 
- Examine and follow the packaging guidelines provided on the exterior of the packaging.
- Make sure the TV screen is never touched during removal of the TV from the packaging - the most common cracks form this way around the edges, by finger pressure.

And here’s my advice: 

- If buying from a brick and mortar retailer, contact your insurer by phone or website and add your new TV set to your policy.
- Consider buying a TV online, and when it’s delivered, make the delivery person wait until you have got it out of the packaging to check that it’s not damaged.

READ: Airport Valet Operators: How to avoid the fly-by-nights

Listen to past Consumerwatch shows below:

Contact Wendy

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

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