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Options for repair, replacement, and/or legal action

Sony Customer Service/Relations

Sony troubleshooting

In the past, when customers reported the discolorations, Sony had them perform the following series of troubleshooting actions that did nothing to solve the problem and was a moderate inconvenience:

  • Try different inputs and/or change connection cables.
  • Unplug the TV, remove all connection cables, wait at least 1 minute, replace connection cables, then plug the TV into a different outlet and power it back on.
  • Reset the TV to factory defaults by following instructions in the owner's manual.
In addition, Sony previously required that a local Sony-authorized Service Center conduct an in-home diagnosis/evaluation on your TV to confirm the optical block problem at a cost of about $60 to $100. More recently (starting in ~December, 2009), Sony started accepting photographic evidence of the problem in lieu of an in-home diagnosis by a technician.

Original manufacturer warranty

Many Sony TV's come with a rather generic warranty card that covers multiple models (see the links in the
table above). For most 2002-2005 models, these cards describe a one-year warranty on parts and labor with the exception of the "color picture tube," which has a two-year part warranty. Unfortunately, the latter two-year warranty applies only to CRT picture tube TVs, not the optical blocks in liquid crystal rear-projection TVs. The 2006-2007 rear-projection models have a longer two-year warranty on the optical block part, but labor is not covered for the second year.

Manufacturer warranty extension

Beyond these original manufacturer express warranties, Sony extended the warranty on the optical blocks of all 2003-2007 models, except for the 2005 3LCD models, as described in the table above. The warranty extensions apply regardless of the purchase date. Depending on individual purchase dates, this effectively results in the total warranted period being 3-4 years for most models. Reimbursement is available if repairs were done after the original warranty expired, but before the warranty extension was issued. However, because Sony does not actively inform its customers of the warranty extensions, it is up to customers who have already paid for repairs to discover the warranty extension on Sony's web site and file a claim before the even shorter deadline, which is unlikely in most cases.

Repair by Sony under their manufacturer "express" warranty or warranty extension program

If the TV is still under its original warranty or warranty extension, Sony should arrange for a free optical block replacement. Although the repair costs are fully covered by the warranty, keep in mind that there is direct evidence from many customers that the replacement optical blocks are identical, or virtually identical, to the originals and fail after approximately the same amount of usage due to the same types of defects.

Despite claims by some Sony employees and Sony-authorized technicians, other Sony employees have acknowledged that the replacement optical blocks are only refurbished to the original specifications with the same parts--not re-engineered to remove the defects. Thus, it is very likely that your problem will recur, and that it will no longer be covered by Sony's express warranty.
I encourage you to ask Sony for this information, and if they can provide direct evidence of re-engineering and successful longevity testing, I would be happy to include that information here.

Repair through extended express warranty programs

If you are outside of the time period of Sony's original warranty and voluntary warranty extension (if applicable), you may have purchased an extended warranty that covers optical block problems. Another possibility worth noting is that, if the TV was purchased with a gold or platinum (or similar) credit card, it is possible that the credit card's extended warranty program may double the manufacturer warranty to two years. In either case, you should contact the extended warranty program to get instructions on how to handle the repair. As stated in the section above, keep in mind that any repair will likely fail after a similar time period as the original.

If all "express" warranties have expired, Sony will likely still offer an "accommodation" or "special consideration"

For models that are out of warranty, Sony has been offering discounts off newer direct-view LCD models in exchange for settlements in which the customer agrees to release Sony from any future legal liability. They have done this under what they call "accommodation" or "special consideration" programs, typically handled by the Sony Listens team. Starting around early 2010, the discounts Sony offered became more favorable, and they started offering free shipping. Prior to that, when one added up potential shipping and handling and sales tax charges, as well as the premium price typically charged at the Sony online store, the value of the offers relative to buying the same new TV at another Sony-authorized dealer, such as Amazon.com, BHPhotoVideo.com, OneCall.com, TigerDirect.com, Vanns.com, etc., tended to be minimal or non-existent.

In addition, despite the fact that the Sony online store has a 30-day Purchase Assurance Program that promises to match prices of other dealers with physical stores, Sony consistently claimed to Special Consideration Program customers, that they do not compete with other retailers. The end result is that they would not apply both the Special Consideration and Purchase Assurance Program discounts to the same TV.

If you accept the offer. Sony will instruct you to remove and mail your serial number from the back of your TV to them (apparently, a hair dryer helps the removal process), along with a picture of your TV exhibiting the problem. Sony's warranties state that no coverage applies to TVs without serial numbers. In addition, you will likely have to accept a document that contains the language: "In consideration for Sony making and you accepting this offer, you agree to release and hold harmless Sony Electronics Inc., and its affiliates, officers and directors from any and all claims for damages, loss, cost, expense or liability both known and unknown, which you may have incurred in connection with your television." On the other hand, you will likely get to keep your current TV, and you could attempt a self-replacement of the optical block, although the life span of the replacement is likely similar to your original.

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