The rise of disposable goods - are TVs only good for two years?

26 January 2009

Our all-consuming hunt for rogue pricing policies has led us to Amazon, and a rather shiny Panasonic 37" widescreen plasma TV. Nothing wrong with the TV, it's good to go. The devil's in the details here, as Bitterwallet reader Cybergenerx draws our attention to the warranty pricing:

"I would have thought you'd get a discount for taking out a 5 year warranty compared to a 2 year warranty," said Cybergenerx, "but if you work it out by yearly equivalent, the 5 year works out more expensive."

The same is also true when comparing the 2 year option to the 3 year option; the 2 year option is better value. And a quick check of other warranties on Amazon products reveal even more disparate pricing, such as these warranties for a Samsung 42" TV:

The more you think about this, the more you realise it isn't a case of mislabelling. This particular model of television only costs £508 to buy new, so why would anyone buy a warranty that costs over half the price? The message coming out of Amazon (although it isn't them supplying the insurance in these instances) would seem to be that beyond a two year period, it isn't in anybody's interest for these products to be repaired.

You can look at that one of two ways; either the television isn't expected to last longer than two years, or somebody would prefer we just buy new if it does goes wrong, rather than bother with the time (and expense) of getting it fixed.

9 comments

  • jd
    These will include the 1yr you get from the manufacturer anyway so it's really £36.99 for 1 year £55.99 for 2 years (£27.99/yr) £102.99 for 4 years (£25.75/yr) Still a waste of money though, just use your consumer rights!
  • Mike H.
    Errr, not really, because the TV is more likely to break down in 5 years time than it is 2 years time is it not?
  • well w.
    I guess they would always say that a tv is more likely to give trouble the older it gets or the parts will be more expensive as perhaps they are not so easy to come about as time goes on.
  • jah
    Product failures in consumer electronics don't really work like that. Its most likely to break down in the first few months, then with a lot of products their is a high risk at around 1-2 years old (think for example RROD in XBOX, Nvidia GPUs in Dell laptops etc); that said a 5-year warranty is probably not a bad idea with a tellys as backlights in LCDs and the gas in plasmas will certainly have deteriorated after 4 years so you can probably claim a repair/new set...
  • charvel
    Sale of goods act states that the item has to be fit for purpose, so you could argue that something that breaks down on it's 4th/5th year is not fit for purpose. Consumer electronics certainly seem to be getting less reliable, and more likely to break nowadays. When I was a kid my parents had a Sony trinitron which lasted for a good 15 odd years, you wont see tv's lasting that long now.
  • jah
    "Consumer electronics certainly seem to be getting less reliable, and more likely to break nowadays. When I was a kid my parents had a Sony trinitron which lasted for a good 15 odd years, you wont see tv’s lasting that long now." Can't argue with that!
  • Russell
    "When I was a kid my parents had a Sony trinitron which lasted for a good 15 odd years, you wont see tv’s lasting that long now.” Well plasmas / LCD's have not been around that long so it is impossible to claim that. There are plasmas in the meeting rooms here that are on all day everyday, they are 9 years old and work perfectly. I have a six year old one at home, again working fine.
  • callum
    As someone else said, for every year the tv ages, it is more likely to break. As insurance premiums are based on the likelyhood of a fault developing, it is more expensive. Seems quite obvious to me.
  • veedubjai
    You can't beat Sony Trinitron™ technology as I still have my 17" Adi branded monitor that uses Sony Trinitron™ technology & still going strong for the last 10 years. Not sure about the energy consumption on these compare to today's LCD's but CRT technology have been going on for since 1897. But what I like to see in the future is that rather than filling damaged/faulty/dead electronic products into landfill sites is to recycle every possible component. For far too long (in decades) on our generation & the previous generations in the UK have live by throwing junk in to landfill sites & not thought the consequences in the long term. The UK is far from the top EU league for recycling policies & manufacturers, retailers & end-users should be held accountable. Is UK becoming a one big dump site island? Sale of goods act states that the item has to be fit for purpose, so buy a good TV in the first place. Do your research before you buy & do got do impulsive buying for the sake of "I can not wait". Buy cheap then expect higher faults due to low quality of components used. Buy expensive then expect lower faults due to high quality of components used that last long.

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