When my 17 year old Philps TV finally bit the dust, I decided to take the plunge and get an HDTV. I purchased the above mentioned 16:9 widescreen CRT HDTV. The TV is used with an antenna for off-air reception, and to play video tapes and DVD’s. About a month after I bought it, I began to notice a number of small, but annoying problems. Since it was past the store’s 30 day return limit, I contacted Philips Customer Care on 2 different occasions and was issued 2 reference numbers. Here’s the sad saga in full detail:
Monday, August 8th, 2005: Purchased TV at Best Buy.
Sunday, September 11th, 2005: Begin noticing a number of problems, including:
AUTOCHRON feature always defaults to Atlantic time. Even after setting it to eastern time, menu keeps reverting to Atlantic time zone.
GUIDE feature shows programming content, but time shown is 1 hour off, and takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 3 hours to update with correct time, regardless of which station is used to set AUTOCHRON feature. GUIDE shows incorrect time even when time stored in TV clock is correct. Appears to be related to how software deals with daylight savings time (more detailed explanation appears farther down on page). Philips Customer Care suggests fixing problem by setting clock to incorrect time zone.
The AVL (Auto Volume Level) feature in the digital tuner keeps turning itself off whenever TV is shut off, switched to analog mode, switched to an AV input, or scrolled through all channels and inputs using CH+ or CH- buttons. AVL appears to work OK in analog tuner.
Horizontal linearity is distorted in 16:9 mode when watching true 16:9 HDTV broadcasts. Left and right sides of picture slightly compressed for about 3 to 4 inches on each side. Scenes which pan have effect of looking through wide-angle lens or fun-house mirror, and problem is very noticeable whenever crawler-type graphics are used.
TV channels on digital tuner randomly lose legacy channel numbers. For example, channel 40 will suddenly show blank screen with NO PROGRMMING icon, even though signal strength shows high and guide feature still works. Switching to 55.1 (40’s DTV channel assignment) will allow viewing programming, but guide feature disabled as if there were no data available. Channel 61 does same thing- NO PROGRAMMING icon on 61, but video present, minus guide info, on 33.1.
When TV channels jump as described above, picture size often changes. Picture on channel 40 (ABC) shrank to 70% of full size for over a week, while picture on channel 61 (FOX) enlarged itself to 110% of normal size, making most on screen graphics extend off screen bottom and unreadable. Click here for examples of spontaneous picture resizing!
Friday, September 16th, 2005: Called Philips Customer Care center to report continued problems. Given name of closest warranty service center (COMPANY S), and assured they will provide in-home service scheduled “at my convenience”.
Thursday, September 22nd, 2005: Contacted COMPANY S for warranty service. Told by technician that he’s already working over 12 hours a day repairing all the stuff Philips is dumping on him. Says he’s way too busy to come and fix TV, and suggests I “call Philips back and tell them to deal with it”.
Friday, September 23rd, 2005: Called Philips Customer Care center to report results of contact with COMPANY S. Given name and phone numbers for other 2 warranty service centers in area (COMPANY C and COMPANY L).
Monday, September 26th, 2005: Contacted COMPANY C, and told they are too busy and “if I didn’t buy it from them, they weren’t going to fix it”. Called COMPANY L next. Told they will repair set under warranty, but will only call on Fridays between 12 noon and 4 PM (I thought Philips said it was going to be at my convenience?). Make appointment for Friday, September 30th.
Friday, September 30th, 2005: Take time off from work to be at home for 12 noon to 4 PM window. Service man arrives around 4:30 PM. I demonstrate problems, he opens up TV, and guesses it needs new processor module. Takes down part numbers and says he will contact Philips and order part.
Sunday, October 30th, 2005: Problem with GUIDE feature not updating time goes away with switch from Daylight Savings Time to Easter Standard Time. Problem appears related to how software deals with DST.
Monday, November 14th, 2005: Called COMPANY L for status on repair. Nobody there, left message on answering machine.
Thursday, November 17th, 2005: Called COMPANY L again for status on repair. Nobody there, left message on answering machine.
Friday, November 18th, 2005: COMPANY L returns call, says Philips has no record of order, must have lost it. He will re-order part, and expects delivery by next week.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2005: Received call from COMPANY L- part is in, installation to be scheduled on Friday, December 28th, between 12 noon and 4 PM.
Friday, December 28th, 2005: Service man from COMPANY L does not show up. Get phone call around 5:30 PM stating technicians car broke down, and call will need to be rescheduled.
Friday, January 13th, 2006: Technician arrives and installs new main board per Philips recommendation. TV will not turn on. Horizontal oscillator tries to start and shuts down repeatedly. Technician removes new board, examines it, says there is a short on it. Unsolders something with solder wick, reinstalls board, and TV starts up, but is now in factory service mode. Technician cannot get TV out of FSM, so he removes the new board and takes EPROM module from my old board and uses it to replace the EPROM module which was installed in new board. TV now out of Factory Service Mode, but picture badly distorted. Wide screen mode (16:9) now same size as 4:3 mode, and 4:3 mode now more like 4:2 aspect ratio, with picture narrower than it is high. Both modes show severe barrel and linearity distortion, with left and right sides of picture so severely bowed they look like parenthesis ( ). Service tech tries to adjust geometry, but cannot get into service mode. Around 7 PM, technician says there’s nothing more he can do, and current state of picture “will have to do” until he contacts Philips on Monday. Problem with AVL feature turning itself off still there. Click here to see what picture looked like after first repair attempt. UPDATE- not only was replacement board defective, but service shop said the board Philips sent them was for a 27" TV, not my 30" wide screen!
Sunday, January 15th, 2006: Noticed TV now has thin horizontal white and black line across entire screen in analog mode, which slowly scrolls up through picture on analog channels 57 and 61. Click here to see example of new analog problems. TV now also occasionally makes a sound similar to horizontal oscillator unlocking and high voltage arcing when tuned to weak signal in digital HDTV mode where screen is blank (black) for more than 10 seconds.
Thursday, January 19th, 2006: After not hearing from repair technician all week, called Philips Customer Care number again, and switched over to Customer Relations line. Inform them of the above saga, and state that it is now over 4 months since they issued service ticket number, and TV is still not repaired. Philips employee says they need to investigate the situation further, and will contact me within 3 to 5 days with results.
Friday, January 20th, 2006: Company L calls and states Philips has determined what I really needed was a new EPROM module. They are sending a new EPROM and a new service programming tool to COMPANY L, which is to be installed in the board originally removed from my TV on Friday, January 13th. COMPANY L expects new EPROM and service tool to arrive on early next week, and will contact me when part arrives to schedule repair.
Friday, January 27th, 2006: Still no follow-up contact from Philips Customer Relations regarding results of their investigation. COMPANY L arrives and installs old board back into TV with new Philips EPROM module. Technician performs geomety alignment using new service tool, but geometry is still not right. Problems with AUTOCHRON and AVL still there. Click here to see what picture looked like after second repair attempt.
Sunday, January 29th, 2006: This web page is created to warn potential purchasers of this TV about its various problems and flaws, as well as the extremely poor customer service of both Philips and its warranty service providers.
Monday, January 30th, 2006: Now 7 business days since Philips Customer Relations said they would call me back in "3 to 5 days". Called Philips Customer Realtions and told by rep they are behind schedule and working overtime to clear the backlog. She says my problem has "not been issued a resolution owner yet". Ahh, if only my Philips HDTV had not been issued an owner....! Rep says somebody will hopefully get back to me by the end of the week, and gives me another reference number (third one so far). I give the rep the URL for this web page so they can see first hand what I am watching. I also hope it will save me the trouble of repeating my long, sad tale of woe to each new customer service rep that gets stuck with this case. The rep looks up the URL while I am on the phone, and views the photos of distorted picture. Philips rep's only comment is "Oh my, you've been busy!" Oh well, so much for watching the Super Bowl in high def.
Thurday, February 2nd, 2006: I'm getting tired of being jerked around by Philips Customer Relations, so I kill some spare time by calling my state's Consumer Protection Department. After describing the problems I've been having, they feel there is a strong possibility this product is in violation of a number of my state's consumer protection laws. They mention failure to meet suitability of merchantability (amount of time I have spent watching badly distorted picture on a "new" product), selling a defective product (software bugs in DTV menus and features), false advertising / misrepresentation (the number of available local warranty service providers who will actually work on it, as well as promising service will be scheduled at my convenience), and defective service (inability of service provider to fix TV). They feel I have been more than patient in giving the manufacturer an opportunity to correct the problems, and give me information on how to proceed with legal action should I need to persue that venue.
Friday, February 3rd, 2006: I get home from work, and find a message from Philips Customer Relations waiting for me. I return the call, and my briefly buoyed hopes are quickly dashed when I discover my newly assigned "resolution owner" knows absolutely nothing about my case, and is calling merely to tell me she will call again sometime next week. The rep is totally unfamiliar with my case history, and has not yet viewed this web site. It's obvious that this is what is known within call center lingo as a METRICS CALL. The call served no real purpose other than to reset the clock, and make the call center statistics look better than they actually are. So although I have received no service as of yet, the official call center metrics now show my case is being worked on. I tell my new resolution owner that I have contacted my state consumer protection department (as related in above entry), and that after 5 months of this nonsense I am done with warranty service. I want Philips to take this dog of a TV away and give me my money back!
Wednesday, February 8th, 2006: Philips Customer Relations rep calls back to say the geniuses at Philips have decided they want the service tech to try replacing the digital/analog tuner module, which is kind of funny, as that's the module he wanted to replace originally during first service call on September 30th (over 4 months ago). It was Philips which insisted he replace the main chassis board instead, and then sent the wrong board! The rep doesn't quite understand why I am so frustrated and irate- her excuse is that she's only been working on this problem for 3 days. I guess the concept of a customer dealing with a defective product for 5 months while Philips jerks them around is something they didn't cover when training reps. I ask her what are they going to do if that doesn't fix the original problems, not to mention the fact that it isn't going to do a thing for the totally screwed up picture geometry. She says if it doesn't fix the problems I'm having, they will have to refer my case to the level 2 technicians. I inform her that my living room is not a test lab for Philips product engineers to work the bugs out of a poorly designed product, and they should pick this piece of crap up, return my money, and figure out where they went wrong in their own lab. She is not amused. I agree to 1 more visit from service provider, but state if this TV isn't perfect when he leaves, I either want my money back or the address where to send the legal documents for a law suit.
Friday, February 10th, 2006: I get home from work, turn on TV, and nothing. It's dead. Stick a fork in it, it's done. TV now does exactly what it did when tech changed main board the first time, before he "fixed" the new board. When TV is turned on, you can hear what sounds like an overloaded switching power supply trying to start and going into protection mode. TV emits a number of short, quiet high pitched squeals (about 2-3 per second) for 4 or 5 seconds while power light flashes 5 times, pauses, and then just keeps flashing forever while the TV makes its funny chirping sounds. I call Philips customer relations again and let them know the TV is now completely dead. Rep says they will try to contact service shop and get right back to me. Yeah, right. 3 hours later, the Philips Customer Relations Department shuts down for weekend, and still no return call. Why am I not surprised? We are expecting a snow storm here this weekend, so looks like I'll have plenty of free time on my hands to work on my Mass State Consumer Protection Laws Chapter 93A 30-day demand letter. Click here to see my new 135 pound paper weight and some ideas for new Philips marketing slogans!
Saturday, February 11th, 2006: Filed complaint against Philips Consumer Electronics with Better Business Bureau.
Sunday, February 12th, 2006: Would sure be nice to be able to watch the Winter Olymics in hi-def, but since my 6 month old Philips 30PW9100D/37 is totally dead, fat chance. Maybe I can watch them in hi-def next time in 2010! Click here to see how I'm experiencing the realism of the 2006 Winter Olympics
Monday, February 13th, 2006: Philips called this morning and said they contacted service guy to make sure he received the new digital/analog tuner module. Rep says repair shop will be contacting me to schedule service call. The repair shop called tonight around 8 PM to say they have the tuner module, and schedule an appointment for tomorrow at around 4:00 PM. I ask repair shop if Philips told them TV is totally dead, and guy on phone is surprised and asks me to describe problem to him. What we've got here is a failure to communicate!
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006: I get out of work a little early to make sure I'm home for my 4:00 PM service appointment. Service tech is running late and shows up around 6:45 PM. He verifies TV is dead, and replaces horizontal transistor. TV now powers up. He then replaces digital/analog tuner module per Philips instructions. He turns TV on and tests- all previous problems (autochron, AVL, thin lines in picture in analog mode), terrible geometry and linearity still there. Service tech puts TV back together, and before he even has a chance to put all his tools back in toolbox, TV goes dead again right before his eyes! Same symptom now. Looks like horizontal transistor shorted again. So still with no TV. Click here to see what picture looked like after third repair attempt.
Wednesday, February 15th, 2006: Called Philips Customer Relations to update them on current status of TV and last repair attempt. Tell them all problems are still there, TV is still dead, and that I want my money back. When I mention that I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the Philips rep says that she can no longer talk to me and must end our conversation since everything now has to go through their legal department. Gee, if I had known one simple call to the BBB would have gotten me off the hook from ever having to deal with Philips Customer Relations again, I would have done it weeks earlier!
Saturday, February 18th, 2006: My Philips 30PW9100D HDTV is still dead. It's been dead for 9 days now. No word from Philips or BBB regarding complaint which was filed with Philips 7 days ago. Went to Manny's (local electronics and appliance dealer) and checked out a really nice Sony 34" CRT HDTV. As a public service to other owners of Philips TV's, I add the 101 USES FOR A DEAD PHILIPS TV section to this review. I get to watch the Daytona 500 tomorrow on the 4" color TV I found at the dump 3 years ago.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006: It has now been 14 days since my Philips TV died. No word from Philips or from BBB regarding complaint which was filed 9 days ago. Went back to Manny's (local electronics and appliance dealer) and bought the SONY. Supposed to be delivered this Saturday.
Thursday, February 23rd, 2006: TV repair shop calls, says they have good news- Philips has called them to let them know they are shipping a brand new 30PW9100D to replace my dead one. I inform the service shop they better call Philips back and cancel the shipment, as I will not accept another TV. I WANT MY MONEY BACK- as detailed in my Better Business Bureau complaint. I am done with Philips electronics, and will never purchase another product from Philips, even if it were the last remaining TV on earth! I have no desire to repeat the last 5 months of agony and frustration. Had they offered me a replacement TV back in December, I may have accepted it. But now it's too little, too late. Right up until the very last conversation with my Philips Customer Support "Resolution Owner" on February 15th (right before she disowned me when I informed her of my BBB complaint) Philips still had no intention of replacing the TV or refunding my money. I have absolutely no faith in Philips products, quality, or their after sale service and support.
Friday, February 24th, 2006: I get an email today from the BBB stating Philips has replied to my complaint. In my original complaint, I stated that I wanted my money back. In the part of the complaint which describes the resolution desired, I again stated I WANTED MY MONEY BACK. Philips, with their typical, arrogant screw-you attitude, responded to the Better Business Bureau stating they will send me a replacement TV due to the amount of time my 30PW9100D has spend being serviced. They completely ignored my desired resolution, and decided to attempt shoving another piece of crap down my throat. Their attitude towards customer service appears to be "here's what we feel like doing- deal with it!" The arrogance and total disregard for the consumer on the part of Philips Consumer Electronics is utterly unfathomable! I have never dealt with anything that even remotely approaces this level of contempt for the consumer.
Saturday, February 25th, 2006: Manny's delivers my new Sony WEGA 34" HDTV in the morning. I can finally watch TV again! After watching the Sony for only a few hours, it becomes obvious that the Philips 30PW9100D had even more problems that I had realized! The 30PW9100D may be dead, but the Philips firmware faults continue to fester! Here are some more defects which I discovered after comparing the Philips to the Sony:
The Philips TV would go nuts and lose lock on DTV channels 10, 11, and 12 whenever I turned on my laptop computer. The computer didn't even have to boot up- the problem would appear the moment power button was pressed. Being experienced in RF, this case of interference seemed odd, as the TV was 20 feet away from the computer, being fed by an antenna which was 2 stories up in the attic, delivering a +15 to +35 dBmv signal through commercial CATV coax! The laptop is a Sony PCG-FXA53, running somewhere around 1.5 to 2 Ghz clock speed. It has been used for the last 3 years for ham radio logging, weak signal decoding, SSTV, and packet. This laptop has never interfered with ham radio, either on HF, VHF, and UHF bands (500 KHz to 1.3 GHz). Well, once the Sony was up and running, I turned on the laptop computer and- nothing! The Sony doesn't even know the laptop exists, even with the laptop plugged into the battery charger and phone line- both of which have the potential of increasing radiated interference. Obviously, the original problem was caused by poor design and/or shielding in the Philips TV.
Another problem encountered with the Philips 30PW9100D involved playing back VHS tapes through the composite video inputs. My 7 year-old Samsung VHS Hi-Fi VCR played fine through my old analog TV. However, when I tried to play tapes on the 30PW9100D, many of the videos looked more like a freeze-frame slide show than a video. The picture would appear to update about 5-10 times per second. The problem was intermittent, and occured on both commercially prerecorded tapes as well as on tapes recorded off-air on that very VCR. The problem appeared unrelated to video quality. Some tapes, which had perfect images, suffered from this problem severely, while other tapes with very poor quality might play perfectly. Manually adjusting the tracking until the image was on the verge of losing lock sometimes helped, sometimes didn't. Since the TV was brand-new and the VCR was 7 years old, I assumed it was the VCR finally going bad. Well, as Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise! Surprise!". The Sony plays back all the tapes which the Philips had problems with! Again, the problem now appears to be related to poor design in the Philips HDTV!
One of the local PBS outlets here changes their DTV virtual channel line-up daily. During the day, they broadcast DTV on 57.1, 57.2, 57.3, and 57.4. During the evenings and weekends, they broadcast HD on 57.1, and DTV on 57.2. On top of that, they sometimes pop in another DTV channel, 57.5, day or night. When I first set up the Philips 30PW9100D using the auto station scan feature, it found 57.1 and 57.2, but since the other virtual channels were not on the air at the time, it never knew they existed. It was over 2 weeks after the initial installation before I stumbled across them when I accidentally hit the wrong button on the remote and initiated another channel scan. It took another week or two before I stumbled across 57.5. Again, another famous Philips firmware faux-pas! The Sony had no problems finding all the virtual channels 57 was broadcasting. When they activate additional virttual channels, the Sony just automatically adds them to the channel line up. When the additional virtual channels are not on the air, the Sony just removes them from the line-up automatically. It's a much nicer solution than having to step through multiple black screens with the NO PROGRAMMING message box flashing on screen on the Philips- that is, of course, if the Philips 30PW9100D managed to even find them in the first place! What a piece of junk!
Monday, February 27th, 2006: The Better Business Bureau forwards my response to Philips Consumer Electronics. I did not accept their offer of a replacement TV. I also took the opportunity to remind them that according to Massachusettes State Law, M.G.L. c. 93A, a merchant is not allowed to limit remedy in the case of a defective product. Under the Implied Warranty of Merchantability Law, the consumer has the right to choose repair, replacement, or refund. I again remind them, I WANT MY MONEY BACK AND THE DEAD TV REMOVED FROM MY HOME.
Buying this TV was the second most expensive mistake of my life, right next to getting married. Although this TV had a nice HDTV picture and pretty good analog and digital RF front ends (when it was working), the internal software appeared be flawed and full of bugs. It looks like this TV was rushed into production without proper testing. Two out of the three local Philips recommended warranty service centers flat-out refused to even look at it, and the one that did had to deal with Philips sending incorrect and defective replacement parts. Even Philips Customer Care phone reps have stated TV is so new, they don’t know much about it. Over five months of warranty “service”, and still no resolution. Total waste of hard-earned money.
Only plus side to this ordeal is that wait times on Philips toll-free Customer Care line are relatively short, and all reps I have dealt with are easy to understand and have an excellent command of the English language, which is important since you’ll be spending a lot of time calling them if you buy this dog of a TV!
Unfortunately, once they bump you up to Customer Relations, everything changes. The Philips Customer Relations department motto should be "CRAP HAPPENS- DEAL WITH IT!" Nobody is in a real hurry to get anything done, and they really just don't understand why customers are getting so upset over these things.
If you’re in the market for a new TV, avoid the migraines and RUN past the Philips display as fast as you can straight to the Sony TVs- I wish I had!