Is Service the Key to HDTV Sales?

Consumers continue to be confused by all the HDTV choices (as well as all the talk about the unrelated end of analog “over the air” broadcasts of television programs), so manufacturers and retailers are looking for effective ways to differentiate their offerings from the competition. Philips has decided that service may be the answer, and last week announced the Simplicity Advantage Program.

This plan provides buyers of Philips TVs up to 26″ with a free replacement unit if a technical problem crops up in the first 30 days after purchase and can’t be resolved. If the problem occurs after the first 30 days, the buyer may be able to get a free refurbished unit as a replacement. For sets 37″ or larger, the plan includes lifetime technical support, next-day in-home repair service, and if local service is not available, a streamlined exchange program. More information is available at the Simplicity Advantage Program Web site.

This blue-ribbon approach to service may help put consumers more at ease about plunking down a wad of cash for a new television. You certainly can’t expect to get this sort of support from most of the “opening price point” brands; at the prices they charge, they can’t afford to provide a lot of support. One very curious aspect of the Philips plan, however, is pointed out on the Web site: “Program is not available on 32” televisions.” If Philips doesn’t have the confidence to stand behind those models, maybe you should think about picking a larger or smaller model.

Put an end to HDTV confusion with Professor Poor’s Guide to Buying HDTV, now available in paperback from Amazon or other fine booksellers.