Ok, guys, this is for informational purposes only the law on some of these points varies by state, but you may find it is worth a consult, and don’t be afraid to show this to your lawyer, because he might not be thinking along these lines. However, I don't represent you as a lawyer by providing you this information. And I’m certainly not trying to get you to sue AVS, they don’t deserve it. I think the manufacturers are the bad guys. But if they dumps this post, I will understand.
Although, lawsuits are an expensive proposition which are usually best left to large disputes, there are exceptions for cases like this. Most states have a version of the Model Deceptive Trade Practices Act. That law was created so you could sue over a toaster and motivate a lawyer to do it. They do that by allowing you to recover attorneys’ fees. Most state DTPA (as it's known) statutes/laws have a "laundry list" of violations, one of which usually has to do with having important (material) information withheld from you in order to make a sale. Surely if we many of us found out that we had to spend about $400 every 3 or 4 months to maintain the advertised lumen level, we might decide to sit closer to a large flat panel instead (though I know many wouldn’t).
Nevertheless, that provision is important because a lot of the projector manufacturers, and THE bulb manufacturer typically don’t provide hour projections in their literature. (They don’t want to get themselves in trouble, because they know what’s going to happen and that some of us will get mad about it when we figure it out.)
You have three targets (and although they are all probably out of state, the amount in controversy will be small enough to keep it in state court for simplicity). The targets are: Philips (who brags big-time on the bulb hours in their general literature-but never along with any sale), your projector manufacturer and your retailer. Some of the manufacturers and retailers provide lumen ratings and some also provide bulb life estimates. Those two representations are almost always MISrepresentations, and the kind that will support a DTPA claim. And if they don’t make any such representations, they have still hidden the ball on bulb brightness characteristics and life. Wouldn’t you have love to have known that you were going to immediately start losing brightness, and after only one quarter of the typically advertised bulb life you would be at 50% of the lumens so that you simply couldn’t rely on the advertised lumen levels and you needed to do your calculations for you set-up completely differently (probably buy a different screen material or size, maybe a shorter throw (before you built all that stuff in), get a brighter projector or just forget it and go flat panel)? It certainly would have been news to me. Your lawyer and you can decide whether to sue one, two or all three of the targets, depending on how much confidence, money and time the lawyer has. They are pretty much all on the hook, but the retailer and the projector manufacturer probably have simpler cases to win.
Now for the real strategy required to motivate a lawyer. You can’t settle early, at least for peanuts. That possibility will make sure your lawyer won’t want to bother, so you need to get that straight with your lawyer right up front. You have to commit to go all the way. Your lawyer will be charging you an outrageous hourly fee. He doesn’t have to actually collect it as you go, and that fee will be the basis on which you and he “prove up” and collect attorneys fees in court, even though your contract with the attorney says that he is prosecuting the case on a “contingent fee” of 40% of the total recovery, to be paid only if and when there is a recovery, and the attorney advances all the expenses of litigation as part of the deal. In this way any payment to the lawyer will be at the end, and only if you win. But you have to have a pretty sharp trial lawyer who isn’t afraid of the courthouse. And you have to be willing to stick it out until the other side finally figures out they are going to lose big (or they have already lost big). The key here is that you may get a jury to award you the money you will have to spend over the (short) life of the projector, or some other trivial damages, perhaps a grand or two at most, BUT your attorney’s bill might well be between $35,000 and $70,000 as established by his large hourly rate. And guess what? Those attorneys fees are awarded as your money and not his, you just have to pay him the 40% plus expenses.
Are you doing the math? You might make $15,000 to $30,000 out of the suit. The lawyer will make twice that, and that is what motivates him. It’s a swearing match between you (who have been keeping track of your bulbs performance) and a big company who is keeping dirty little secrets to make sales. It’s a good case.
So if you are mad enough, or interested in getting even, or interested in a legislatively encouraged windfall, talk to a local lawyer. The guy you’re looking for will not be a big shot. All that guy’s cases need to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum. You need to find a lawyer who will be interested in a good chance at a fee of $40,000. There are plenty of those around. This is pretty simple law, and the cases don’t require that much in the way of expenses.
PDF the website where you bought the projector if it contains representations of lumens and bulb life. And keep any brochure or advertising materials or manuals with such information directly from the manufacturer.
If you are charmed and inspired (rather than uncomfortable or offended) when you first interview your lawyer, he will probably have the same effect on the jury, assuming he is willing to try cases. Ask him/her about how many cases he has tried to verdict. Some “litigators” like to try cases, and some just can’t make themselves do it at all. If you get the latter, your opponent will know it, and your case will go nowhere.