Warranty Fine Print

So, as Tom has heard endlessly from me, I've been looking in HDTVs for about 2 years now.  I've pretty much narrowed in on DLP for a rec room (LCD for a living room at some future point); I've heard many people say that it's worthwhile to get the extended warranty on DLP TV's, as a replacement lamp is typically included in the price (and the lamp typically costs about the same as the warranty). 

It's too bad that DLP lamps tend to go somewhat quickly compared to other technologies, however, they are easily replaced whereas plasma and LCD are either impossible or difficult or expensive to replace.  Instead of waiting until I buy the TV to look into the warranty and be pressured to make the emotional decision of "protecting my investment," I thought I'd look into the warranties now, making up my mind before I buy. 

I've slowly been adopting a non-negotiable no-warranty philosophy over the years because most of the time, you don't need them.  In the case that you do, often it's either not covered, partially covered (or has a deductible), or just a hassle to deal with.  At some point, I'll be due for a "I should've bought the warranty" moment, but the money I've been saving should more than offset that.

Nevertheless, this "free lamp with warranty" concept peaked my interest.  Looking at the fine print in Circuit City's warranty revealed this:

B. If the covered product is a television that requires a lamp to generate a picture (e.g. DLP, LCD, LCoS televisions) Your contract covers one (1) lamp replacement per Contract term. Refer to Section 6.E. for lamp replacement details.

Wow!  So it really is true!  A free lamp!  But wait, what's this in section 6.E.?

E. If through troubleshooting a television that requires a lamp to generate a picture (e.g. DLP, LCD, LCoS televisions), We determine that the non-functioning component is the lamp, You will be required to uninstall the lamp and return the lamp to the Service Provider or its designee, at the Service Provider’s reasonable expense. Upon the defective lamp being received and inspected by the Service Provider, You will be sent a replacement lamp from an authorized warehouse for installation by You. Lamps found to be non-defective or excluded from coverage will be automatically returned to You at Your expense. You may be required to provide a credit card number as a guarantee for return shipping on lamps found to be non-defective or excluded from coverage.

Hmmm.  I'm not sure I like the wording of this.  Since DLP (et. al.) lamps don't generally fail (they fade over time), it would take many, many years (I'd imagine) to fail completely.  As for when it should be replaced ... well, that's up to the user's tolerance for a fading picture.  Does a lamp at 50% brightness constitute failure?  Probably not.  Not to mention -- though this is minor -- you'd be out your TV for as long as it takes to resolve the issue as you need to send in the lamp and wait.

I checked out Best Buy's warranty, too, but they don't mention lamp-specific terms.

Comments (1) -

11/30/2006 1:38:14 PM #

Go with DLP you much regret you have will. Sorry...been watching too much Star Wars on Cinemax. Seriously though, we've had this discussion and I'm highly disappointed that you've decided to go with a huge honkin light box.

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