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4-year-old TV stops working

We estimate the average life expectancy of a TV to be 12+ years. But Consumer member Murray’s Samsung stopped working after just 4 years.

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He’d paid $2450 for the set, marked down from $3450, but found out it couldn't be repaired and the manufacturer wasn't prepared to offer a full refund.

When his TV gave up the ghost, Murray took it to a repairer. He was told the screen had failed and couldn't be replaced because the model was no longer available. At the repairer's suggestion, he contacted the manufacturer Samsung.

After several calls and emails, Samsung confirmed the set had been discontinued. It offered Murray either a replacement TV or a "depreciated refund" of $490. The company said the replacement would be a higher spec'd model but it couldn’t provide a set with the same number of inputs as the original – a major issue for Murray as he had several devices plugged into his existing TV. He was also less than happy with the offer of $490, given that he'd paid 5 times that amount only 4 years earlier.

At this point, Murray got in touch with us. Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards explained he had the right to claim compensation from Samsung for the television’s loss in value: "As the set couldn't be repaired, the loss in value was total and in our opinion Murray was entitled to claim the full price paid." Maggie also pointed out the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) gave Murray the option to seek a remedy from the retailer.

When Murray went back to Samsung, the company increased the refund offer to $980 stating its original calculation of $490 had been incorrect. It apologised for the error but wouldn't budge further.

Acting on Maggie's advice, Murray decided to contact the Harvey Norman store where he'd bought the TV: "Once they became involved, things moved at a great rate of knots." Within days, Harvey Norman arranged a replacement TV with similar specs and inputs to his old set. Murray was impressed: "I have nothing but praise for them. But the same can’t be said for Samsung."

Samsung told us it believed the $980 offer was reasonable and reflected Inland Revenue’s standard depreciation rates. But the CGA entitles consumers to more than this. In our view, Samsung should have compensated Murray for the full purchase price when it couldn't repair the TV or provide him with a suitable replacement.

Legal points: The CGA requires goods to be of acceptable quality. It also requires manufacturers to have spare parts and repair facilities available for a reasonable time. If goods can't be repaired you have a right to be compensated by the manufacturer for the loss in value.

But you don't have to deal with the manufacturer: you can go back to the retailer and request a replacement of the same type and similar value, or a refund. You can also keep the goods but get some of your money back in compensation. It's up to you.