TV Fell and Went "BOOM!"
November 3, 2007 6:20 AM   Subscribe

My new Plasma TV fell off the wall and shattered. Am I screwed?

I bought a 50" Vizio "Jive" Plasma TV from Sears (on my Sears card) a couple of weeks ago. Loved it. I bought an articulated wall mount from a company on eBay. Their posting said:

"Ideal For The Complete Vizio LCD/Plasma Series: You Are Bidding On A Brand New Cantilever Adjustable Tilting/Swiveling Wall Mount Bracket with extending arm for LCD/Plasma TV's 32-50"

Fair enough. I mounted it exactly to their specifications, and it appeared to be holding up beautifully. Until.

This morning, I was under the TV, rerouting an HDMI cable when it fell off the way, hitting me in the head. It hit a bench seat that was under it, then fell face first on to the ground.

My wife and son, who happened to be in the room, helped me get up, then helped me lift the TV to an upright position. Sure enough, it's shattered.

So, my question, as I'm sure you can guess, is "Am I screwed?" I've already contacted the eBay seller (they touted great customer service and their perfect feedback rating in the post) and Sears to see if there's anything either of them can or will do. My insurance deductible is more than the value of the TV, so that's not an option.

Please, friends, help me get back to vegetating in front of my glorious HDTV!
posted by unclejeffy to Work & Money (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, you are screwed.
posted by humannaire at 6:27 AM on November 3, 2007

Well, you didn't give any info on how exactly the failure occurred, so this looks to me like a $1350 lesson.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:37 AM on November 3, 2007

Did the arm break, or did it pull away from the wall?

How much did your TV weigh, and what was the rating on the arm?
posted by odinsdream at 6:40 AM on November 3, 2007

The arm pulled right out of the wall. It was mounted to an outside wall, which is cinder block. I followed the directions for mounting into cinder block to a "T."

The TV weighs 120 lbs. The mount box says it is for up to 60" TVs and up to 175 lbs.
posted by unclejeffy at 6:57 AM on November 3, 2007

If it pulled out of the wall, you are screwed. You mounted it wrong. Evidence being that it pulled out of the wall.
posted by odinsdream at 6:58 AM on November 3, 2007

It is probably worth calling your home owners insurance. Sometimes these kinds of accidents are covered. Also if you purchased by credit card; check to see if you have any purchase protection.
posted by humanfont at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2007

My American Express covers accidental damage for my purchases for 90 days. I've had dogs eat shoes, a dropped and shattered phone, and a dog eating a GPS, and they just needed proof of damage and a copy of the receipt and they cut me a check. I'd check to see if your Sears card offers anything like that.

Also, if it's within 30 days and if you have access to a truck, just take it back to Sears and explain what happened. Ask for a store manager if possible and tell the truth. You may be the beneficiary of some good will on their part, in the same way that Apple was replacing iPhones for people who dropped and shattered their screens in the first few weeks.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:03 AM on November 3, 2007

As others have noted, you have absolutely nothing to lose by being perfectly truthful about what happened and throwing yourself on the mercy of Sears, but yeah, you're probably screwed here.
posted by enrevanche at 7:09 AM on November 3, 2007

Possibly you could salvage something, like the elector-luminescent backlight panel, and have a photo printed on transparency to display.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:19 AM on November 3, 2007

You're out of luck, barring exceptional goodwill on the part of the store or the eBay seller owning up to their false advertising.

Unfortunately, none of the Sears cards offer any sort of purchase protection. :(
posted by wierdo at 7:59 AM on November 3, 2007

There is an interesting inconsistency between this:
"Ideal For The Complete Vizio LCD/Plasma Series: You Are Bidding On A Brand New Cantilever Adjustable Tilting/Swiveling Wall Mount Bracket with extending arm for LCD/Plasma TV's 32-50"
and this:
The TV weighs 120 lbs. The mount box says it is for up to 60" TVs and up to 175 lbs.
Anyway, as parts, it will be worth something to someone. I wouldn't be surprised if you got more than 10% of retail for it on ebay, but at the very least, someone will be more than happy to take it on freecycle.
posted by Chuckles at 8:20 AM on November 3, 2007

Call sears. Specifically the credit card department and see what htey can do for you. You might have some accidental break insurance.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:29 AM on November 3, 2007

Chuckles: I noticed that inconsistency, too. Makes me wonder if the mount I got was different than the one I bought. I'll pursue this. I didn't realize the parts my have value. Thanks for that information, too.

I've now been in touch with several departments at Sears, both locally and at corporate. So far, no go. (I have confirmed, as wierdo says, there is no purchase protection on my Sears card.) I may try to take it in to the store where I picked it up (I bought it online), as several have suggested, and throw myself on their mercy in person.

At the suggestion of a Sears rep, I contacted Vizio. I threw myself on their mercy, admitting up front I know they're under no obligation to do anything. Can't hurt, right?

Thanks, all, for your ideas.
posted by unclejeffy at 8:47 AM on November 3, 2007

Hopefully your Sears isn't like mine. This isn't about me, but they lost my business for life over a $14 issue.

That said, nothing can hurt - I'd ask any and everyone you can think of for help on this. Even if someone can't hook you up with a replacement TV, they might be able to sell you one at their cost or something.

Sometimes stores will have the store manager's picture and name posted somewhere. Maybe a plea to him or her will help. You can always ask an employee for the store mgr.'s name too - but if you can just find it and call/write, it will may be more effective. (more spontaneous, and it won't look like a typical escalated customer issue).

If they help you, they've satisfied a customer at the minimal cost of getting a TV to their store. You've got a story that would bring customers to their store.

Good luck!
posted by altcountryman at 9:12 AM on November 3, 2007

Mounting in cinder block is really quite difficult, especially for something so heavy. If they advertised that their mount was suitable for cinder block mounting, and if you truly mounted it correctly, then you may very well have a claim against them. Take pictures of the mounting, the damage etc. Not only might you have a claim for the TV but for your injuries. If they refuse to compensate you I would pursue the matter in small claims court.
posted by caddis at 9:54 AM on November 3, 2007

The mount was bought from Ebay.... so I don't small claims is going to help in that case.
posted by crewshell at 10:31 AM on November 3, 2007

Why not? The fact that the item was sold on eBay will not shield the manufacturer from suit.
posted by caddis at 10:40 AM on November 3, 2007

You also might want to invest in a wall mount safety strap next time. Basically a thin steel cable that attaches to the back of the TV and into the wall. In case your wall mount pulls out again, the cable will hold it, letting it only fall a few inches against the wall instead of onto the floor. I know people in earthquake areas use them a lot.
posted by sanka at 11:27 AM on November 3, 2007

I second the American Express angle
posted by matteo at 11:42 AM on November 3, 2007

Are you OK? That's a big thing to hit you in the head.
posted by MarkAnd at 12:22 PM on November 3, 2007

How is your head? Get checked for concussion.
posted by meehawl at 12:23 PM on November 3, 2007

Thanks for your concern, but it was more of a glancing blow. My shoulder took the brunt of it, but it feels fine.
posted by unclejeffy at 12:41 PM on November 3, 2007

1.) Document everything. Take lots of pictures of the damage, especially the failed mount. If you can say you were injured in the least bit, get it documented.

2.) Was the wall mount seller in the U.S.? If so, the fact that they sold through eBay is utterly irrelevant.

3.) I don't recommend immediately jumping on the "I'm going to sue bandwagon" against the seller, but if it comes to that, the fact that you were hit by the TV could be advantageous. You don't seem badly injured, but on the surface, "I was injured by your defective mount" screams of a million-dollar lawsuit, whereas, "My TV broke" screams of, "I want my $29.99 refunded." A neat negotiation tactic is to play like you're going for a huge medical suit, and then "agree" to take a replacement TV. Note that I am not a lawyer and that immediately trying to sue them is probably not a good idea.

4.) Check with your insurance company! Your TV fell off the wall and shattered. They might just cover it.
posted by fogster at 1:02 PM on November 3, 2007

It seems it was not installed properly in the cinder block wall. Since it pulled out (did not break off) it must have been the installation. Do you have a picture of the anchor(that you mentioned) to install it in the cinder block wall?

I think you do not have a case that you can prove to anyone. Homeowners insurance probably would have covered it, buy you mention your deductable it to high for that. You will just have to eat the loss.
posted by JayRwv at 3:12 PM on November 3, 2007

Wow, sorry to hear about that! At least your head didn't crack...

Unless the mount itself failed, I don't see where the eBay seller has any obligation to unclejeffy. The seller didn't install it, and that's where the failure occurred. I'm afraid he's screwed in terms of getting a replacement, with the only consolation being that big screen TVs like his will be sold at very low prices this Christmas season. Check Fatwallet's Hot Deals forum. Sears in particular is having some nice deals; some Fatwallet-ers are trying to take advantage early by buying now (with online rebates) and pricematching on Black Friday for even better deals.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:58 PM on November 3, 2007

You mounted a 120 pound TV, on an arm, on a cinder block wall, and got under it?

You're a braver man than I.
posted by flabdablet at 8:41 PM on November 3, 2007

Just ignore all these people focusing on the eBay seller. I am not sure what kind of drug they are on. It is the manufacturer, not the seller, who is the primary defendant in such actions. All the idiots who claim, with no further evidence, that it was installed incorrectly are similarly mistaken. It might have been, but the OP said that there were directions for installing it in cinder block and they were followed. I think you have to assume that the OP is correct. Why do you say the OP is lying? Were you there? If a product is used as per its instructions and it fails there is a good products liability case. All you idiots who say it was just installed incorrectly or that because it was an eBay seller should do your research. Did this cause a soft tissue injury? Suit could be had for tens of thousands, not that I am recommending that but frankly all the chicken littles should just SHUT UP. /O'Reilly
posted by caddis at 10:51 PM on November 3, 2007

Call the manfacturer. They are the people to talk to. Don't email, call. Make sure the device you were sold was the device advertised and the one that was spec'd on the box and detailed in the manual.

Screenshot the eBay ad and take photos of it all. If you mounted it according to the instructions then the manufacturer is the one to take it up with. If you did what it said, and it pulled out of the wall then their instructions weren't clear, or it simply wasn't suitable for that type of mounting.

If the device you received wasn't the one that was advertised, or didn't relate to the box or the manual, then the manufacturer will want to be taking it up with the seller and may be willing to see you right as a good will thing.

Post your story on Consumerist, they are a powerful force - and ma encourage the manufacturer to fix it for you for the 'bad guys do the right thing' followup. Although be prepared to the immediately blamed and abused by the unwashed masses on Consumerist, they really jump on the blame the victim bandwagon.

Use the Consumerist's advice on reaching executive support and call the big guys at Sears and the TV company. They will be the most willing to make you happy if they see some need or benefit in doing so.
posted by sycophant at 2:08 AM on November 4, 2007

I work in the audio-visual industry. I don't know the warranty policy on the Vizio line in particular, nor the warranty on the mount since you don't mention the name of the manufacturer, but I do know that the warranties of many projectors, plasmas, LCD TV's and other audio-visual products are voided if the products are installed by a non-authorized professional. I would suspect you will get a similar argument if you try to get the mount manufacturer to cover the cost of your loss ("Did you have it mounted professionally? No? Well there's your problem, you mounted it wrong")

I sympathize with you, but have a hard time believing either Sears or Vizio will feel any obligation to replace your TV because an unaffiliated, 3rd party product failed. In my experience, it's hard enough to get service or returns authorized for legitimate service issues; I can't see them replacing a product that was in perfect working order out of the kindness of their hearts.
posted by The Gooch at 8:13 AM on November 4, 2007

Go buy a second one, swap the broken one for the working one, then take the boxed broken one back to Sears and say to the gal at the return counter, "Hey honey, what's the big idea selling me a broke tv?!? I demand a full refund this minute!!"
posted by wfrgms at 9:24 AM on November 4, 2007

I have no legal background. I do have a lifetime moral background.

It would seem that the dilemma you face is a moral/ethical junction.

Only you know which road to take.

On the one hand, if you bought and installed the products per warranty and "the reasonable man" principle, I think many of the suggestions above may apply. Don't product liability laws exist just for cases like this?

If an investigation would affirm that you did everything to spec and voided no caveats, I think you have a case against the mount manufacturer. I wouldn't discount the blow to the head, either.

On the other hand, if anything you did was shoddy or risky, you must choose to eat the mistake. Do you deserve a remedy?

If a reasonable man would have purchased the described products, and installed them correctly, expect a flawless and lasting outcome? If you can answer yes, go for it. You were sold something that didn't perform as described. Product liability.

Your only recourse with Vizio or Sears would seem to be the "goodwill" factor. If either were to view your experience as worthy of corporate benificence, it might be very worthwhile to them. I think the suggestion to write regardless is a great one. Let all parties know at the outset that you will submit your experience, good or bad. If you've been wronged you have an opportunity to make these companies look like heroes. Apprise them of that.

If you were the weakest link, eat it. Otherwise, you should have expected a reasonable outcome. You paid for that outcome. And you paid dearly for the outcome.
posted by private_idaho at 12:32 PM on November 4, 2007

All the idiots who claim, with no further evidence, that it was installed incorrectly are similarly mistaken. It might have been, but the OP said that there were directions for installing it in cinder block and they were followed. I think you have to assume that the OP is correct. Why do you say the OP is lying? Were you there?

It's perfectly reasonable to question someone in order to better assist and come to a correct answer. No one has suggested that the asker is lying about anything. Your outburst is unreasonable.

There is absolutely no question at all that the mounting was done improperly. The arm did not break. It pulled out of the wall. The next logical question would be "Why was it mounted improperly?"

And, from there, you would lead into whether mounting hardware, if included, was incorrect, whether the instructions were inadequate or incomplete, whether the wall itself was damaged, or whether the asker simply made a mistake in mounting it. All of that is worth figuring out, but we can all agree that the arm and TV were mounted incorrectly without necessarily blaming any party.
posted by odinsdream at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2007

There is absolutely no question at all that the mounting was done improperly.

That would be true only if you assume that the mount was properly designed and came with proper instructions for mounting in cinder block. If unclejeffy followed the instructions properly and it still fell out of the wall then the mount failed and he has a products liability claim against the mount manufacturer. A whole bunch of idiots just screamed at him that he did it wrong with no further information. Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn't, but to say that it was all his fault without further information is ignorant.
posted by caddis at 4:15 PM on November 4, 2007

Your only recourse with Vizio or Sears would seem to be the "goodwill" factor. If either were to view your experience as worthy of corporate benificence, it might be very worthwhile to them.

I'm genuinely surprised by the number of answers recommending unclejeffy contact either Sears or Vizio to get his television replaced when it was actually a third party product, unaffiliated with either Sears or Vizio, that failed him. These comments remind me of the scene in Lost in America where the Albert Brooks character tries to convince a casino owner to return his life savings (which his wife had lost the previous night gambling) in exchange for good publicity.

I think it is delusional to think either Sears or Vizio is going to replace a $1000+ television that was in perfect working order at the time of purchase because they think this will somehow improve their public image. Seriously, do you think the New York Times is going to stop the presses for the goodwill story about some random guy who had his TV replaced out of the kindness of the manufacturer's (or Sears') heart? Or do you think either company would want it publicly advertised that they take back any broken product, under any circumstances, no questions asked??? Neither company did anything wrong - they sold the OP a perfectly good product. How will threatening to expose them with negative Internet postings going to do any good when they did nothing wrong in the first place?

If any company is responsible for the TV it is the mount manufacturer (or the company that represents them). Focus your energy in that direction and ignore the pie-in-the-sky ideas some are suggesting.
posted by The Gooch at 4:48 PM on November 4, 2007

caddis, I explained that in my post. The mounting of the arm to the wall failed. That's perfectly obvious, because the arm and its connection to the TV are apparently fine. Why is the question, and there are, as I just said, a number of possible reasons. Nobody is screaming that it's all his fault, but of the available options, that's a possibility.

1. The mounting hardware included, if there was any, was wrong. This is very, very common, and is why mounting hardware is often not included, or the product comes with a huge notice that says you should get mounting hardware specifically for your own walls and circumstances.

2. Mounting hardware wasn't included, so he purchased his own and chose the wrong thing. This is also easy to do wrong, especially if you don't know for sure what kind of walls you're mounting into.

3. The instructions included with the arm were wrong, or unclear. Also easy to understand, considering translation issues.

4. He picked the right mounting hardware, and followed the directions, but physically did something wrong, like mounting into a mortar joint instead of block. Again, easy to do.

This is simply a matter of trying to figure out what happened. It doesn't help to be harsh about any of it, but it also doesn't help to avoid examining what could have gone wrong.
posted by odinsdream at 7:19 PM on November 4, 2007

Nobody is screaming that it's all his fault

Actually, you did: If it pulled out of the wall, you are screwed. You mounted it wrong. However, it gets silly to argue about this now. If he mounted it according to directions and it failed he has a pretty decent products liability claim for damage to his TV, perhaps damage to his wall, and perhaps damage to him, plus the refund on the crappy mount, and then mental anguish, punitive damages, etc., and then there are all these internet gadflys who blamed him, and inflicted mental anguish..... ;)
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on November 4, 2007

Based on the reasoning that (on ebay) there is eyelash dye you are required to be a hairdresser or similarly qualified person to buy. And there is eyelash dye that any old ding dong is allowed to have if they want it.

If it's marketed for any joe blow to do, it's illogical that you would then hire somebody to do it for you. So unless that is relevant, then I would suspect it's not.

Was it ripped out as a result of the toppling? Or did it come free and result in the toppling? It might be a bit of a case of the chicken or the egg to a certain extent? (but just ignore this paragraph if it does nothing for your argument there)

A tv fell on you! If their acme anvil holders aren't up to code then they should be taking all possible steps to ensure that...
-well at least that they do not get $ued!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2007

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