The Big Picture

My kids are constantly asking me to look at something. Usually it is a YouTube video of a buzzer beater or the latest animal to become an Internet sensation. I have gotten less and less adept at feigning interest. Well, except for that dog that shuts off the Roomba vac. That dog deserves his moment in the sun.

So, on a recent Saturday night when my son told me I should come see something, I ignored him. Right up until the point when he nervously said the basement television wasn’t working. Because I am the mother of three boys, any time something is not working, I assume there is a story behind it, one that has been crafted and rehearsed to shed the best possible light on my offspring despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

Even after a few beers with dinner, it was obvious that the multi-colored lines across the screen and black blob in the corner were all wrong. To make matters worse, the black blob was smoking hot to the touch. Fueled by the annoyance of burning my finger, the interrogation began. Like prisoners of war, the boys were not ceding to the enemy. They swore they were just as flummoxed as I was. I took them at their word; this was technically their TV with a gaming system attached.

Fearing the screen was going to burst into flames, I turned off the TV and got another beer. I rationalized that it was more productive to watch the Wizards go down in flames instead. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about that TV—it was only a year or so old.

Pretty soon I was going to be mumbling about how things don’t last the way they used to and the good old days.

I tried to remember when we purchased it. Let’s see, I knew I volunteered to run a bake sale the day the guy was coming to install, and the bake sale was in May. It was crazy; I mean everything happens in May, why would I volunteer? Anyway, using that timeline, it seemed we were within the year warranty period. Now, no, wait. We had it installed then, but I recalled sitting at a baseball game and having a very public, very testy phone call with the installer debating an earlier date because we had bought the TV two weeks beforehand.

The only way I can keep track of days and time is to chart it through my kids’ past events. So, was it a year? Less?

The only way to find out was to leave my comfy chair and find the paperwork. In times like these, I love my overly organized husband the most. The paperwork was in the drawer with all that other warranty stuff instead of being in the bottom of one of my piles with all my good intentions heaped on top of it.

And the date on the yellow and blue Best Buy receipt? April 22, 2016—exactly one year from that very day. Excellent.

I grabbed the mountain of paperwork I found in the drawer, the phone and my beer and headed for the dining room. Everyone in my house knows, the serious phone calls happen in the dining room. It’s the only time that table sees any action at all.

First up, Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The snarky gentleman who answered informed me they are only helpful if you purchase extended warranties, service contracts and put them in your will. Having done none of the above, they sent me packing with a number for Samsung service.

I dialed the number and took a giant swig of beer to cushion myself from what would, no doubt, be a long wait. After I followed numerous prompts, listened to detailed instructions on replacing defective, exploding Samsung phones and counted the nail pops in my dining room ceiling, a rep came on the line.

I was smart enough to get the serial number off the back of my flat screen before our call. Armed with info, I expected things to move along quickly.

I am just a fool.

What followed was a two-hour odyssey that I was not qualified to embark on. I ran self-diagnostics with the remote and buttons on the TV itself. I took pictures of the screen from the front, from the back, from the side, with the power on, and with the power off. I then uploaded those pictures to some random email address. I had to scan and upload a picture of my receipt from Best Buy and send it to another email address after I got a prompt. I had to unplug everything from the television (attached with approximately 50 wires) and run the diagnostic with the remote again. I ran up and down the stairs, crawled around on the floor, sneered at my family every time I passed them sitting watching the Wizards game in the family room and burned my finger again. Oh, and I asked the rep at least 100 times to confirm that we were still under warranty.

I was not PAYING for the pleasure of performing like a circus monkey.

I did not get any confirmation from the rep before we got off the phone. She said all documents would be evaluated and a technician would come to my house and assess if we were warranty worthy. It was 11 p.m., my beer was warm, the Wizards lost and I was exhausted.

A few days later, the technician came out and most importantly vindicated my children. He sucked in his breath when he saw the black blob and told me that it was a burn mark on the screen. One of the LED bulbs had exploded and singed the TV. I am sure I used some prehistoric term, like picture tube, but he was kind enough not to laugh at me; what I got was more like pity.

After he replaced the screen (sort of like they do for a cracked iPhone), I asked about the warranty for the new one.

“Ninety days, ma’am”

“Only 90 days? What if this happens again?”

“Ma’am what happened to your TV only happens to like one in every 15,000 TVs.”

This news did not make me feel special like it should have. All in all, I put more time into this repair than the technician who came to my house. In 30 minutes he evaluated, replaced, reconnected wires and hauled away the trash.

But when I told the boys I had something to show them, the look of gratitude to have Netflix and the PS4 back in action was worth every minute of investment.

Now if we can just fix the Wizards. …

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