To Repair or Replace LCD & LED TVs — That is the QuestionRobert Coolidge
TV flat panels are bulky, expensive and generally difficult to deal with. Panels inventoried years ago to serve as repair replacements are often pricey due to freight, core charges and inventory costs. As such, the industry has elected to provide whole unit replacements or retail gift cards instead of attempting repairs on TVs under warranty.
Although buyout options may seem on the surface to be the most economical and logical path of least resistance, there are several factors to consider that may warrant reconsideration of panel repair.
Cost – The average TV replacement cost is about $750, but a 50”-65” flat panel TV can be repaired for less than $375 including parts – assuming 20% panel replacement, transportation and labor. We estimate more than 150,000 TVs are replaced every year that could potentially have been repaired and kept out of the waste stream. If these estimates are correct, the industry is conservatively losing more than $50 million annually paying out the product value. Boards are the likely source of a failure more than 75% of the time. Regardless of price, when a panel is required and available, the overall cost of ownership for the warranty will be less.
Brand Displacement – Issuing gift cards as compensation for a defective panel opens the door for consumers to buy competitor products. Manufacturers should do whatever it takes to keep their brand in the customer’s home. Even if you just break even on a panel repair, at least you haven’t risked losing your customer to a competing brand.
Unnecessary Replacements – When troubleshooting a TV failure, inexperienced servicers are likely to opt for the easiest route, which is to simply diagnose a bad panel. Customers get a new TV (potentially of a different manufacturer brand), and servicers get paid trip charges. However, paying quick trip charges for replacement is just pennies on the dollar compared to potential revenue share of repairing.
Plus, when a panel is truly defective, it’s in the industry’s best interest to support the service network and enable a repair. We must support the system to keep the process healthy; otherwise, we risk creating a market full of waste and service mediocrity.
Environment – E-waste and its toll on human health and the environment is like the kitchen of your favorite restaurant: you know it’s probably not good, but you don’t really want to know. However, the reality is recent reports show that the U.S. generates around 9 million tons of e-waste annually, with TVs making up a great portion of it. Toxic chemicals leaking into landfills and potentially contaminating our drinking water is a real concern, and we should collectively be working to minimize the amount of electronics we discard. Extending the life of TVs by repairing their largest component is one way to achieve this.
This trend toward replacement is unnecessarily costing manufacturers and underwriters millions of dollars annually in warranty reimbursements while negatively impacting our environment. It’s potentially affecting brand loyalty among consumers, and it’s weakening the service industry. Let’s reevaluate what is truly the proper behavior to minimize replacement; boost repairs to grow company profits; improve product brand equity; fuel the service community and keep our environment healthy. If TV replacement accounts for 15% of your repairs or more, it’s time to take a deep dive analysis into your processes.