As you may or may not have heard, the 46″ Samsung DLP that I bought a little over two years ago from the online arm of a “big box” retail electronics concern died a couple weeks ago. For simplicity’s sake, lets call them “BB”. I had a service plan, so eventually a BB tech came out and had a look at it. He said a couple circuit boards were toast, and he’d order replacements and fix it. The process was expected to take a couple weeks, so that sucked. He called a couple days later and said that it turned out to be cost prohibitive for them to fix it, so we’d be getting a replacement TV. He gave me a claim number which was good for a new TV. Yay.
Last Monday, Miyuki and I went to the BB in Evanston. After looking me up in their system, they said they’d be willing to give us a 50″ DLP in exchange (no one makes 46″ DLP’s anymore). I pointed out that I spent quite a bit of money a couple years ago on a 46″ DLP, so I’d rather they give us a 46″ LCD, which was much closer to what I paid back then, but was still cheaper by a few hundred dollars. They said they couldn’t do that, as they have to match TVs on a feature-to-feature basis and not cost or size, and the value of the old TV had depreciated over the past couple years anyways. They would also be willing to give a credit equal to the cost of a DLP towards an LCD. (The latter of which was presented as a very magnanimous solution.) I called the service plan hotline and they confirmed those policies1, so I went with a 50″ Samsung DLP because the credit would have only covered about 2/3 of the cost of the LCD.
They ok’d everything with the customer service manager, who had to charge my credit card for the replacement TV in order to get it to the store. That seemed a little odd, but she said she would reverse the charge once we picked it up, so whatever.
On Saturday we showed up to get the TV. They wheeled it out. Wow, big box. I handed over all my documentation, including a printout of the original receipt and the claim form for the new TV, and Miyuki went to Starbucks. I’m not entirely clear on what happened next, but here’s what I remember.
The customer service manager had a hell of a time getting their system to do a straight TV-for-TV swap, as should have been done under the service plan.2 I stood there for fifteen or so minutes while the whole customer service deparment stared at her computer.3 Eventually what she had to do was reverse the charge on my credit card and treat the old TV as a normal return and use the credit from that towards the replacement TV. She explained all of this, and mentioned offhandedly that after deducting the cost of the new TV there was a credit balance that she would put on a gift card. To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention, so I mumbled something like “Oh, ok.”
It turns out that when she processed the “return” of the old TV, she did it at the price I originally paid, and not at the “depreciated” value which was magically equal to whichever 50″ DLP I chose. With advances in technology and assorted price drops, the cost of today’s 50″ DLP is lower than a 46″ DLP in March 2006, which is why I now have a beautiful 50″ Samsung DLP and a BB gift card with a credit balance of $1,013.70. Oh sweet, sweet victory.
- Sort of. What the corporate rep said was that there is no overarching corporate policy for this sort of thing and that the local manager has very wide leeway in dealing with these sorts of returns. The “depreciation” line smelled like bullshit before and this only confirmed that they were trying to cut their losses.
- Supposedly this had something to do with the fact that the old TV and service plan were bought online and the exchange was happening in the store.
- The staff was actually very helpful and courteous the whole time and I don’t have any issues with their service at all, but the integration between BB and BB.com could sure use some work.