ConsumerWatch: Samsung Settles Over Television Blackouts

(CBS) – Samsung Electronics is now admitting that millions of its flat screen TV’s may have problems that cause them to just shut down, and a settlement has been reached in connection with the problems of some Samsung televisions manufactured before December 2008.

Owners have been complaining about these problems for years and were previously unable to get help.

One of them was Brian Kowalkowski, who paid $1,500 for his new Samsung LCD television two years ago. Recently it began clicking, until it eventually turned on. Then, it would not turn on at all.

“It was just dead,” Kowalkowski said. “It was the most amount of money I’ve ever spent on a TV, so I had a hard time believing it. I had no idea what the problem was, but I knew I had a serious problem.”

When Brian checked on the Internet, he found thousands of people with the exact same problem. It turns out repair shops are quite familiar with the problem as well.

It’s caused by apparently defective capacitors that help store energy to smoothly operate the televisions. Each capacitor is relatively inexpensive, about $5 a piece. But if it’s defective it can overheat and shut down your TV.

“You can identify the bad capacitors by the swollenness of the top portion of the capacitor,” Ray Samrah, ABT Electronics Service Manager, says.

“It’s less expensive to repair and replace these capacitors versus replacing the whole TV,” he adds.

Class-action lawsuit filed in three states charge that Samsung Electronics has known for years about the “design and materials defect” that can result in “capacitors failing.” The suits charge that Samsung failed to notify its customers or issue a recall.

It’s a reaction corporate strategy experts see all the time.

“I think companies are doing the cold hard math of what an actual recall is going to cost them,” Paul Larson, an equities strategist at Morningstar, said. “Even if it’s a relatively inexpensive part, it’s quite a significant expense or it can be.

Because his warranty period ended, Samsung told Kowalkowski he had to pay to get his TV repaired. It cost $167 at a television repair shop near his home.

“It should have been zero,” Kowalkowski said. “I feel it should have been taken care of by Samsung.”

Samsung told CBS in a written statement that it confirmed in early 2010 that a small percentage of certain models manufactured between 2006 and 2008 had issues caused by capacitors.

But the Samsung spokesman said he could not tell us what the company’s definition is of a “small percentage.”

CBS has learned that a Samsung attorney admitted in an Oklahoma courtroom, where one of the class-action cases is pending, that as many as 7.5 million televisions could have problems.

The company has just reached a settlement in that case, which will result in a national resolution of the problem, Samsung said. For more information, call (888) 899-7602   or click here.

Samsung’s proposed notice says the affected models manufactured between 2006 through 2008 are as follows:  

LCDs: LNT******/XAA; LN**A******XZA; LNS4041DX/XAA; LNS4051DX/XAA; LNS4052DX/XAA; LNS5296DX/XAA

  The asterisks indicate that the affected models include any that begin and end with the combination of letters listed.



Samsung’s written statements:

“A small percentage of certain models of  Samsung televisions have experienced performance issues caused by a component called a capacitor.  Since originally confirming this issue in early 2010, Samsung has voluntarily provided free repairs for U.S. customers with affected televisions. 

As the leading supplier of televisions in the United States, we remain committed to delivering superior technology and excellent service to our loyal customers.  We encourage our customers to call 1-800-SAMSUNG if they experience any problems with Samsung products.

We have recently reached a preliminary settlement, subject to court approval, for a nationwide resolution of a related class action lawsuit in the District Court of Oklahoma County in the state of Oklahoma. Under the settlement, Samsung will continue to offer the free repairs that have already been extended to affected consumers.

The problem does not affect current models so there is no need to contact retailers. Affected consumers will receive a notice as provided for in the settlement agreement, once approved by the court. Per Samsung’s standard policy, in-home repairs are offered for all sizes above 32”. For 32” and smaller, products must be shipped to NJ, but Samsung will cover all costs (in both directions). Also, once the settlement is approved a process will be put into place to compensate consumers who have already paid for a repair.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Tina Layne

    I had the same problem last August with an LG television purchased in 2007. I was thanking my lucky stars that I had purchased a 5-year in-home service contract, and it was still in effect. The repairman replaced one bad capacitor, and every-thing was fine for about 3 months, then the same thing happened again. The repairman got the manufacturer to agree to replace the entire power supply. The new power supply has more and larger batteries and capacitors, and so far so good.

  • Doug Tinney

    These aren’t the only Samsung TVs with a capacitor problem. We have a Samsung 27″ Slim Fit (TX-T2782) that did the exact same thing. Working fine, then just shut down. A Google search yields many such similar reports. I contact Samsung. No reply. Unfortunately these sets are not included in the class action suit.

  • emd

    Televisions manufactured between 2006-2008? Bull. I have one purchased in Dec 2010 -so I’m two months out of warranty -and three days ago it just stopped. It will not turn on and clicks every few seconds -THESE ARE THE SAME SYMPTOMS OF THE TVS DURING THE TIMEFRAME LISTED. So Samsung is lying when they say current models do not have this problem. I’m somewhat relieved that the cost is so much cheaper than what I was quoted by Best Buy’s Geek Squad -a ‘tech’ who spent most of his time troubleshooting while on the phone describing what the issues were to someone else. They told me $500. Obviously, I’ll be talking to Samsung, and Best Buy again. This is NOT a problem during two years of manufacturing Samsung claims. This company appears to be trying to deceive consumers again.

  • Steve

    Don’t be fooled. This problem DOES affect LED Tv’s too, even though they claim it doesn’t. Symptoms are the same: clicking noise then shutdown. Our TV broke just two months after warranty. Samsung authorized repair center doesn’t simply replace a capacitor, though – they replaced the entire power supply, which is relatively costly.

  • RC

    Thanks! My TV has the same symptom and I’ve been waiting for it to fail completely to have it repaired or replace it. Mine fits the model numbers listed, and always takes 3-4 times to turn on. Once it does turn on, it often has stuck pixels that can only be fixed by turning it off then on one more time.

    I searched the internet a few months ago but did not find much useful on the matter at the time.

  • budm

    Bad capacitors are out there for at least 10years, it affected TV, Monitors, power supply (wallwart). Just look up capacitor plague on WIKIPEDIA.
    or you can see my pictures of failed TV and monitors at user name budm.
    Theu are ALL brands!

  • Lcd Tv Screen - 3D TV Sets - 3D TV Sets

    […] ConsumerWatch: Samsung Settles Over Television BlackoutsSamsung Electronics is now admitting that millions of its flat screen TV’s may have problems that cause them to just shut down, and a settlement has been reached in connection with the problems of some Samsung televisions manufactured before December 2008. … Read News […]

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