I am writing this post because although there is a lot of speculation and help on the internet, along with a lot of complaining about those who are providing service, I rarely see someone who is working with the manufacturer step in and explain things. The opinions and processes and pricing expressed here are not necessarily those of Samsung Electronics of America. This should give you an accurate reflection of what happens on the "other side" of warranty repairs like this capacitor settlement.
We are a Samsung authorized repair center in Washington State. Samsung pays us Labor and sometimes Mileage to go to customer's homes and repair their TV under warranty. In our shop Samsung pays us more than we charge End-Users for a similar repair because we do what we can to help customer's in unfortunate situations. Our financial interest to some extent is to see Samsung cover a repair. We want to help you more than anything. As for the capacitor issue. We have done a ton of these (probably at least 3 or 4 a week since 2010 and sometimes as many as 10 a week).
I feel bad for Dizzy because as far as I can tell I HAVE NEVER run into a cap issue TV that I have not been able to get the board or that doesn't have a repair specification for it.
These generally fall into five categories. No matter the category we have to stick to the bulletin posted in this thread religiously or we do not get paid by Samsung.
1. The TV is listed in the bulletin and is manufactured before 12/31/2008. These are all covered. There have been a couple small stints where Samsung has "stopped" covering cap issues for a month or so due to expiration of the voluntary recall. However, they have continually repealed these expiration dates and as of today are covering them at least until Jan 2014 (as I understand it). The previous capacitor settlement bulletin stated an expiration of Sep 2013.
2. The TV was from a model line introduced in 2008 but the TV was actually manufactured in 2009 (usually March, 2009). These TV's actually have the same parts, model numbers and same issues. However, these TVs will not be covered by Samsung as the Lawsuit states anything before 12/31/2008. We have seen only a few of these (approximately 4 or 5). Sometimes customers call in and are able to get these covered because a call center rep doesn't realize that it is outside of the lawsuit or sometimes they can get a manager's approval. However for the last 2 years they have been pretty strict about this. Our customer's that fall into this category get a $100/Labor bill, Mileage (if over 25 miles away) and we charge them between $3 and $10 per capacitor. Usually they get out of their for $120.
3. The TV fits the capacitor issue in every way but the issue is not related to the power board. Just a quick note on this. We have never ever ever been called out for a second capacitor recurrence in 4 years. The couple the that we have had call back (I think 2 people), have turned out to have a Main Board that was causing the power supply's safety circuit to trip or a Side Jack board that got zapped through the HDMI port (seen a few surges travel through HDMI). Either way, if we come out due to a phone triage that sounds like a capacitor issue and we find that it is not a capacitor issue, we will replace your power board anyway if it has not been done (as the capacitor problem is probably in your future) and then quote you for us to replace the PCB Main.
4. The TV was repaired before the issue was fully understood. Sometimes we go out on a repair and find that a guy named "my friend" (who gives us a lot of business) or even another repair center has already repaired the board. What we find on these was that the previous tech only replaced the caps that were visibly damaged. However, now days Samsung has produced full documentation on the problem and trained its Service Centers to completely repair each board. A good service center knows each and every problem capacitor in each and every problem TV Samsung produced. There are always at least 4 capacitors to replace and in some cases up to 11 capacitors that need to be replaced. Only a Samsung Authorized Service Center has access to these bulletins and training material. There are some boards in which they tell us we are not allowed to repair but we are instead supposed to do a swap on. Again, I have never had Samsung not stock these boards. Sometimes they are on back-order but Samsung clears about 90% of their back-orders within a week, so you won't wait long.
5. The TV is definitely have a power issue but their are not visibly damage capacitors at all. Samsung will cover ANYTHING power board related (except physical/user damage) on this recall. If the caps are damaged then there should be at least one visibly bulged cap but this is not always the case. Some caps "blow" out the bottom or vent on a seal. Some boards have other issues not related to the capacitors. However, rather than leave it up to one guy in the field with limited equipment to determine, we are told that first we try caps and then we replace the entire board. Either of these two repairs are covered under the settlement. We are however not allowed to simply replace every board (they will ding us for that) and we have to justify board replacements.
When we get a call or a ticket from Samsung our first step is to prepare for a successful first time service event. We call the customer and interview them. For a cap issue model number, we will ask questions like "Does your TV have trouble turning on?", "Does the TV click and click like it is trying to start up a number of times before actually turning on?" and "Has the issue gotten worse and worse?". We get answers like "Yes and now it doesn't turn on at all, it just clicks." then we are 99% sure it is capacitor issue.
We pre-repair boards. We have a stack which includes almost every capacitor board in our shop. One stack is dead and one is repaired. We would rather send out our techs to do a board swap in the home then have them light up a soldering station on someone's couch or coffee table. Plus the skill-set for board soldering is not something all of our employees have, but I can easily have any tech go do a board swap. For these reasons we have a couple guys on our staff that sit down every few days and repair all the boards that we have. It usually takes just a few hours for a handful of boards but it makes our trip to a customer's house clean and quick. It also means that whether it was the caps or the whole board, we have fixed it quick and painless (no solder first and replacing a board second). We then would figure out if the board was bad back at the shop and charge Samsung for the correct parts (capacitors or boards).
We are authorized for a number of Manufacturers but I can tell you right now that Samsung is serious about helping their customers. They have the best products overall. When you buy a TV from Samsung you are paying extra for 3 things. Cutting edge technology, best picture quality, and great service after the sale.
That being said Samsung also is the strictest when it comes to the rules (because of their scale). On the customer's end this means they may not "bend the rules" to cover something that shouldn't be covered. On our end this means that we finish 90% of our repairs in 7 days. That we have nearly no customer complaints. That we have high quality of service scores. We meet these expectations or we get ax'd or yelled at or any number of unpleasant things. Samsung pushes its service centers to be the best on a constant basis. If we have not contacted a customer within 2 days of receiving the ticket, they call and remind us. They also call every few days for ticket updates if we are falling behind (we call these guys the ticket police). We compare this to other manufacturers we work for and they just send us a ticket and then give us no support when the part is unavailable. I had one popular Department Store Brand that literally gave our shop and the customer the run-around on a part for 3 months after sending us the ticket. This is not the exception with this company it happens more often than not.
There is a difference between Manufacturers and Assemblers. There are only a few TV manufacturers in the world. Samsung, Panasonic, LG are among them. There are hundreds of Assemblers on the market today. Sanyo, Visio, Westinghouse, etc are all assemblers. The difference is that when you open an Samsung TV will find Samsung parts or at least parts from a Samsung subsidiary. When you open an LG or Panasonic TV, it is the same thing. Samsung, LG and Panasonic all sell their parts (usually old run parts) to companies like Sanyo, Visio, Westinghouse, Element, etc. Assemblers make a chasis and logo and custom firmware and then put it on the market. There is generally nothing wrong with Assemblers but you can tell the difference in build quality on the inside. For some reason the inside of a 2012 Samsung TV or an LG TV is like a Cadillac and the inside of a 2012 Sanyo TV is like the back of a dark box van. Assemblers don't innovate, they copy. If they copy something good then they make a great TV. However, if they copy something bad not so much. This is why many people will say that they love their Visio but industry-wide it is seen as being about 50% good 50% bad. They have had good TVs and bad TVs mostly because of the parts they decided to group together into a TV and not because of bad engineering.
Last thing I want to say before I end this book is that this isn't your parent's TV. Old tube TVs had a shelf life of 20 to 30 years. I here constantly from people who say, "My old 37 Inch Tube TV (CRT) lasted for 20 years what's wrong with this TV." First these are different times and different technologies. We are trading the CRT for LCD/LED or Plasma. The benefits are a larger TV in a smaller space with MUCH better picture quality. The trade-off is that we are using a technology that is largely unproven and young. No one has owned a plasma for 20 years because they weren't invented. The difference in technology is like comparing the mileage of bicycle to that of a car. They are different technologies that give us different benefits. For the old timers out there, they may even remember a time when CRTs needed regular "Tube" maintenance. The point is that it is more likely than not that you WILL have problems with your LCD or Plasma TV within 5 years. Do you want to wait 3 months for the repair or 7 days? I am also not a fan of Extended Warranties. I think it is easy to poke $1200 aside and if your TV goes out in 3 to 5 years then use the money for repair or replacement. If not then use the money somewhere else after your warranty would have expired. That being said, because you almost definitely WILL have problems in the next 3 to 5 years and because the cost of 1 service event is $200 to $400, there is a good chance that the $300 to $600 warranty plan you buy at Best Buy will end up paying for itself in some way. We have seen a ton of people who got a line in their screen on a $1200 TV and they paid $300 for a warranty and the warranty paid for the $900 repair or paid them to go buy a new TV. TVs and computers do seem to have a higher rate of failure and that makes extended Warranties more value to the customer. Like I said though it is a matter of hassle and gambling as you can also produce an "extended warranty fund" for all of the items in your home and run repairs out of that and not gamble at all.
Hope this help clarify things for people. Feel free to email me john (at) hamiltoncompanyllc.com if you need help or parts or want us to schedule service for you. We love helping people.
Hamilton & Company, LLC