Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

October, 2013:

Breaking Point

Sometimes, even when the weather is unseasonably comfortable, even when there’s a smattering of rain here and there to keep you happy, even when you are successfully dieting, and even when life in general is good, something can always go bad.

It started about five weeks ago at just about the same time that we finally gave up on cable TV. It’s been a year since the company (the ONLY provider on island) decided to go digital. To say the least, the transition did not go well. In spite of increasing costs, the service deteriorated. To be fair, we gave them a year to work out the kinks but eventually we grew weary of paying more for less and cut the cable, so to speak. That decision led to untold hours spent researching new technology in order to switch over to internet streaming: Neflix and HuluPlus and the handy ip address masking service to make utilizing those services possible. Then we hooked up the Wii (which as never been much utilized for gaming or exercise) to get those services onto the older television in the bedroom and ordered a Roku. We were just getting the lay of the land when the flat-screen TV died again.

You may remember my mentioning last year, just around this time, when that TV died before. (See Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud at http://whaddyadoallday.com/?p=330 ) Back then a miracle occurred. The local repair guy actually had the electronics board it needed so the fix was quick and easy. This year, yes this year (Don’t parts of your television die little by little by little every fall like grapes on the vine? ), a different number of flashing red lights in the sequence meant a different dead component board. So the guy tells us which board to get. Actually emails me the link to buy a specific one online stating that he couldn’t find anyone who had the right one but that this one (for a slightly different model) would work fine.

The part was ordered and shipped to some hotel in some city where Michael was going to be next on some trip. Once home, it was installed in the TV by the guy. We paid the guy, brought the TV home, and settled in all excited to catch up on our Breaking Bad episodes. We flipped the TV on, and it promptly turned itself right back off again – mocking us with an encore of its stupid flashing red light routine.  Michael turned around and drove it right back so the guy could tell him that the board went bad again. He suggested that maybe we could return it as if that was as simple as dropping it in a little, fedex box.

So I called the company. The woman who answered the phone was clearly not born yesterday. Sure they will accept the return provided that I send them not only the board they sold me but also the original board we replaced. It seems that …. wait for it … some folks try to replace boards with similar but not exactly the same boards they took out and then bad things happen. Apparently ‘close but no cigar’ is not acceptable amongst these purist electronics folks.  So Michael told the guy to keep the damn TV but to at least give him back the $80 check we paid him for his bad advice and disastrous repair so we were ONLY out the $115 for the worthless board.

Well, out $115 for the board but also still without a good TV. Thus began the search for a new one. Again, I’m a bit behind on technology. So I polled my brothers and researched online and with Consumer Reports. I brushed up on LED vs. LCD vs. Plasma, 1080p’s and refresh rates.  And finally settled on an inexpensive but seemingly sufficient 46” Samsung LED from Best Buy. Since the freight forwarder is in Fort Lauderdale, I called the store directly to order the TV in the hopes that they’d just drive it down the road in order to expedite my getting it here. I was completely up front with the woman in the warehouse about where the TV was going. She said no problem. They deliver to freight forwarders for export all of the time. Thirty-six minutes and one fraud-alert declined credit card later and my new TV had been ordered. That was Sunday September 15. It arrived here yesterday. The box looked good – in fact less beat up than the box was, the last time we bought a TV. We brought it home, we set it up, we hooked up the Roku, and we settled in all excited to watch another episode of Breaking Bad. It was beautiful. We were happy. Life was good.

Later in the evening, Michael started hearing a strange, repetitive, melodic, chiming noise coming from the TV. It was turning on and then right back off again. There was no stopping it. Chime/Chime. On/Off. I ran to the computer while he called Samsung support. It’s apparently called Power Cycling and as you might imagine, it is not a good thing. In fact, it appears to be every bit as bad as the Panasonic flashing red light of death. Unplugging and rebooting did not help. Neither did the woman at Samsung. And sadly neither did the assistant store manager at Best Buy. At first he said we could return it (which would only cost about $200 in shipping plus the cost of getting another one down here); but oh, wait,  their return policy is only good for 15 days and we are already past 15 days.  When we protested and asked for an exception he said we’d have to take it up with ‘corporate’.

Please understand that I cannot just walk away from a cheap $600 TV with an ultimate landed and delivered price of over $1100. So we’ve already disputed the charge on the credit card, and we’re going to start fresh today by speaking to an actual manager/manager….especially since I had plenty of time to do more research last night (since I wasn’t watching TV) and I now see that there’s a known capacitor problem with Samsung TV’s that can cause this exact issue. We should be so lucky. Meanwhile I’ve come down a notch from last night’s hysteria when I was clearly at my breaking point. (I even threw the diet plan out the window and turned to the comfort of a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of chardonnay!) But I do know that there is one assistant manager in Florida who should be glad my emotional breakdown occurred a safe 1500 miles away because last night I seriously could have gone all Walter White on him.