My Polaroid TV Went Dark: Help Me, WalletPop!

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Q. I purchased a 37" LCD Polaroid TV in 2006 at Walmart. The total purchase price was $738, plus two years of warranty. In the last year, my TV has had some problems: The remote stopped working and the TV just turns off by itself sometimes. Then the TV went out completely -- no picture, no sound, not even the Polaroid image when the TV first comes on.

I contacted the company's technical support and the representative informed me that they had a lot of power failure problems with this model TV and that it can be fixed with a replacement part for $222. He said I could fix it myself with a screwdriver, and they would refund $100 back to me once I returned the old part. I asked what would happen if the same problem came up again and he said it shouldn't happen again, but if it did, I would have to purchase a new part again.

I have read tales from other people who are having the same problem with the same TV, and they say that after 90 days, their TV went out again. Why didn't Polaroid issue a recall on the TV if so many consumers were having issues with the product? Can you help me with this issue?
-- Latoria ChapmanA. Latoria, Polaroid tells me that this model was distributed by Polaroid Consumer Electronics (PCE), not PLR IP Holdings, LLC, which is the current owner of the Polaroid brand. Unfortunately, PCE filed for bankrtuptcy in 2009, and the company is no longer offering support for the televisions that it sold. PLR didn't have any historical information about the design or performance of the products issued under PCE's name. So, we can't really say why a recall wasn't issued or whether there were enough defective products to warrant one. Typically, though, recalls are issued when the defect causes a safety problem.

However, PLR does try to provide support for Polaroid TVs that were distributed by PCE, and they've offered to help you out. The company tells me that a replacement circuit board module is available for the TV for $249.99 plus shipping and taxes. When you return the defective part, you're credited $100 -- as the representative told you -- so the net cost to the consumer is actually $149.99. The part is warranted for 30 days, but if it doesn't resolve the issue, it can be returned for a replacement or a refund.

In your case, though, since you had such a negative experience, Polariod is offering additional assistance with the cost. It will waive the $100 part return holdback fee, and offer you the replacement part at 50% of cost, or $75. It's also going to extend the warranty on the part for six months, in case it does stop working after 90 days, as you've read.

The company is going to get in touch with you directly to work out the details, so look out for a call from them.

Finally, I want to give you a pat on the back: Good for you for researching this part before forking over the extra cash. That's exactly what you should do in a situation like this.

Consumer Ally problem solver Jean Chatzky is the "Today Show" financial adviser, a longtime financial journalist and best-selling author.
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