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Buying a TV this spring? Beware shorter return policies

Many people spending stimulus or refund on new TV
NerdWallet What To Buy
Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 11:28:41-04

CINCINNATI — Many people will be spending their tax refund or stimulus check on a TV upgrade this spring.

But before you toss the box, make sure you know about shorter return policies these days.

Gladys Watson has a giant 75-inch blank screen in the living room of her apartment in Cincinnati's West End.

She purchased the $700 Hisense TV at Walmart this past Christmas. The screen went dark a few weeks later.

Watson called the store, but learned she had missed the 30-day return window for bringing it back to the store.

Calling manufacturer leads to frustration

She called Hisense USA, which launched her journey through weeks of frustration.

First, she says, a customer service agent helped her reset the TV.

"The television played for another two or three days, and then it went back out," she said.

Finally, after several more calls, Hisense agreed to send a repairman.

"He changed two parts, but he said, 'I can't guarantee to you this is going to work,'" she said.

Sure enough, a few days later, her picture went to diagonal lines and then a black screen.

That's the problem with trying to fix a flat-screen TV — it is often easier and cheaper to just replace it than repair it.

Very short return windows

But store return policies are so short that returning it is often no longer an option.

  • Walmart lets you return a TV for 30 days, unlike 90 days for most other Walmart items.
  • Amazon also gives you just 30 days.
  • Target is also 30 days.
  • Best Buy gives you just 15 days unless you are a paid premium member, in which case you get 30 days.

If you miss the deadline, you have to deal with the manufacturer, and they will usually try to repair it several times before exchanging it for another.

Adding insult to injury, Watson received an email saying her case was closed.

"The letter stated that the television was fixed, it's completed," she said. "And it's not."

So we contacted Hisense USA and asked if they could please swap out her TV for one that works. The company is now looking into her case.

This is a reminder to always open a TV box and test it as soon as you get it home.

Never wait a few weeks, even if the room it is going in won't be ready for a while.

That way you can return it if necessary, and you don't waste your money.


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