Burned out LCD bulb leaves couple in the dark

September 21, 2010 7:39:27 PM PDT
One of the most popular big screen TVs in recent years has been the rear projection LCD, but there is one annoying drawback that every owner has been dealing with.

This involves a vital part of these projection TVs -- the lamp, and like any lamp, this one will often burn out. So, one couple felt pretty burned themselves when their warranty wouldn't cover the cost.

Jack and Arlene O'Connor were enjoying their big screen TV one day when all of a sudden they heard a groan and a pop.

"We turned it on again and it went greeeee," says Jack O'Connor.

"I think the second time it was a bang, actually," says Arlene O'Connor.

Suddenly the screen went black. The projection lamp of their rear projection LCD had burned out and it had happened once before.

They thought no problem, the TV was still covered under an extended warranty with a company called Assurant. So, the O'Connors made a claim for a new lamp.

"What do you mean it's not covered? You covered it two years ago?" asked Arlene.

"'We don't cover that lamp,' and I said, 'According to my contract, the one I bought, it doesn't say that it doesn't cover it,'" says Jack.

The warranty company had been sold to new owners who called the prior coverage "a gift."

So, the O'Connors paid $314 for a new lamp, then called 7 On Your Side who contacted Assurant. Sure enough, it pointed to a contract clause saying the warranty doesn't cover "consumer replaceable items" like the O'Connors' lamp. To double check, we looked at the Toshiba owner's manual, and right there on page 128, it says the lamp is replaceable and shows how to do it.

"Every few years, you have to change the light bulb but most people don't like it," says TV repair expert Richard Wong from Art's TV Service in San Francisco.

Wong says many projection TV owners are surprised to find out their lamps will blow out every couple of years. That's why the TVs are so much cheaper than other big screens.

"The light bulb usually lasts between 5,000 to 8,000 hours," says Wong.

Jack and Arlene are certainly surprised to hear this too.

"So apparently this type of projection TV has a history of lamps going out every two years. Well, we weren't told that when we bought it," says Jack.

But that isn't the warranty company's fault. Still after 7 On Your Side pointed out the company had paid once, there was a change, the company said "We decided the right thing to do was reimburse the cost of the replacement bulb due to the historic issues the customer had. We look at each issue on a case-by-case basis and work to do what is right."

"And they completely did a reversal. Almost two weeks later, I got a check in the mail. I don't know what you did, but it worked a miracle," says Jack.

Art's TV says it's easy to replace the bulb yourself. Just use a lint-free glove and wait till the TV is totally cooled down.

Projection TVs are now being phased out, in large part because they need bulbs replaced so often.


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