Buying an HDTV tale of woe

So two weeks ago yesterday I pulled the trigger on a Westinghouse TX-42F430S 42" HDTV at amazon. It was sold through, had a good price, the vendor had good ratings, all was set. There was one left in stock.

I also had $200 in amazon gift certificates, so that was a nice discount.

So I ordered on 7/28, a Saturday. On Sunday, Onecall sent me an email asking me to call them to confirm shipping instructions. They went over all the shipping stuff with me, said they’d send all the information in email as well when it shipped. They said it would ship on Monday or Tuesday.

Wednesday rolls around and still no email. I check the order and the TV is now listed as “Backordered.” I call Onecall, and they tell me that I ordered the TV sometime between the time someone else ordered the last set and the time it took for amazon to update. They were dependent on their suppliers for when a new shipment came in, but at the most it would be 7-10 days.

I waited until the following Tuesday. Amazon sent me an email that said the TV should have shipped by now and I should contact the vendor. I replied to the email (as per amazon’s instructions) asking for a status update. I got no reply.

On Thursday (8/9) I called Onecall. I got the same woman on all my calls to onecall (now referred to as “Manycalls”) and she said that they hadn’t gotten a shipment and she had no idea when the next shipment would arrive. I said I would take up the matter with amazon, she said fine.

After much hunting for a phone number, I called amazon (aka a phone center in Bangladesh). The rep said he couldn’t do anything and that I should cancel the order with the vendor. I said I was worried about my gift certificates, and he said those would be automatically credited to my account. I should then buy the TV again, as it was now being sold directly by amazon, instead of a third party. The website said there were 5 in stock.

I called back Onecall and canceled the order. Elsa (who now recognized my voice) promptly canceled the order. I noted that the order was still open on my amazon account. She said it might take a little while to post, but I should take it up with amazon.

I waited two hours. No change. I called amazon. The rep said it would take 24 to 48 hours for the cancellation to come through, but that I should just by the new one anyway. I explained about the gift certificates and he said that I should just buy it anyway and when the cancellation came through the $200 would be applied to my account. After some going back and forth, he admitted that it would not be applied to the purchase of the TV but for my “future purchases” that I would make after buying the TV. I told him that was unacceptable. Also the TV’s were now down from 5 in stock to 1 in stock.

He said he’d put it in my shopping cart and that would reserve the last one.

I called bullshit.

He was actually clueless and had no idea how the shopping cart works. I got tired of arguing with him, and said I would wait until the cancellation cleared before reordering.

I’ve been waiting since Thursday for this cancellation to clear. As I was typing this, I finally got an email that said the order had been canceled (72 hours from the time of the actual cancellation).

I just looked at the TV again, and there are now 5 in stock, sold by Onecall.

At this point I’m so pissed with amazon that I was willing to forego the $200 in gift certificates and order from Newegg, but Newegg doesn’t carry this model. It’s the exact same price on, but I’m not sure I trust Bestbuy unless I can walk out of the store with it.

Should I just wait until Onecall gets rotated out at amazon? Should I buy somewhere else?

I wanted to use amazon because I figured this sort of thing wouldn’t happen with them. I wanted my TV a week ago. Arrrrrrrrrgh.

That’s an awesome TV, I’m watching it right now and love the thing. Shame about all the messup with ordering it though.

use bestbuy and instore pickup for crying out loud. why would you want to pay shipping on a locally available item?

My wife just decided. It’s tax free weekend in MA. We’re off to make the rounds of electronics stores.

Wish me luck!

Uhm, shipping is free for high ticket items like this.

Yeah, this is why I don’t deal with Amazon’s subvendors on anything over $50.

I got a TV from Onecall before without any issues. I didn’t go through any middlemen, though. It seems like that’s where a lot of the issues came from.

That’s weird about how long it took Amazon to cancel the order. I recently purchased a book that went through a third party and then cancelled the order a few hours later when I realized the book wouldn’t arrive before I expected to be going out of town. I then reordered directly through Amazon to get a shipping option that would work.

I wonder if the cost of the item has an impact on how their cancellation system works.

I walked into Best Buy with the model number.

Waited 10 minutes for a salesperson.

Said no to cables.

Said no to BB extended warranty.

Said no to surge protectors.

Walked out with the exact TV I wanted.

Now to hook it up!!!

So it has a happy ending.

The Westinghouses seem so inexpensive compared to, say, the Samsungs and Sharps. Whats the tradeoff?

Brand name.

that is exactly what I was going to say.

Often the contrast ratios and similar features that are more noticeable to videophiles are better on the Samsung/Sony brands.

My Panasonic, for example, has a 3000:1 contrast ratio, compared to the 1000:1 of that Westinghouse.

I had something of a similar experience, though in store. I had done quite a bit of research both online and with store pamphlets, and after much deliberating my girlfriend told me: walk into BestBuy, choose the one that looks the best, and walk out with it now, or we will never get it because I over-research everything into paralyzing indecision. Fine, I’ll do that.

We walk into BestBuy, we both decide we liked the 42’ Phillips 720p. When the saleperson ambles over, we ask if it’s a reasonable decision, and he of course tells us we’re fools, and that we should be looking at the Sony or LG 1080p. After waffling between a TV that looks good for $1400 and a TV that looks the same kind of good for $2400, we tell him no, we’re going to do the Phillips because my girlfriend likes the stand better.

We go through 20 minutes of filling out forms and credit information and buying cables and all that, and once we’re done, tells us to pull the car up.

10 minutes later we’re waiting outside the store and the salesman comes out. He’s sorry, the store is doing inventory right now and they can’t bring out any TV’s. They made the announcement over the intercom as we were doing the sale and now it’s too late. We can pick it up tommorrow, though. I say, hell no, I bought this in store so I could walk out with it. It’s sunday, I have time to install and play with it today, tommorrow is a long work day and I have other things to do, give me my TV now. We go talk to a manager, who says it’s the salesman’s fault for not hearing the call, he’ll have to live with screwing up. I tell him I don’t care about the salesman, I have to live with picking it up tommorrow and I don’t want to, give it to me now. He says he can’t, apparently the customer is NOT always right, even after paying and not receiving a $1400 Tv that’s sitting in the back room 30 yards away.

So after some more arguing, I say ok, cool. We jump in the car, I go straight to circuit city, see a nice 42" Toshiba for $1400, buy it, put it in the car, drive back to best buy, wait 20 minutes in the returns line, and get them to refund my money.

It took them several minutes of confusion and two employees to pull my sale up though… the saleman had copied my last name wrong.

fuck best buy!

Spiffy: that’s an amazingly fucked up customer experience.

It wasn’t exactly smooth when I went to get my westy at best buy either. I pulled my van up and waited over a half hour to pick it up, eventually they decided they couldn’t find any in the back, and said they could refund me or give me the display model for $250 off. Since the display model is the one that I’d already decided I liked… I walked with the display model. It didn’t have a remote control but I didn’t care since I was going to use a universal anyway.

SD processing. My wife and I bought a Westinghouse (different model number) and returned it because the SD processing was so poor. It looked great with HD sources, but we still watch a lot of DVDs and SD shows, and the SD looked like hell. Also, the audio sounded very tinny compared to the Sony we ended up with. If you watch only HD signals and have a good sound system to hook it up to, Westinghouses are fine.

I have one of the slightly older Westinghouse 1080p 42" units and in my experience, Cyrano’s right and its mostly about the SD. The Westinghouse units have a good scaler so the SD doesn’t look horrible, but it doesn’t do anything fancy to fix the signal like some of the higher end HDTVs do so it doesn’t look as good. In my case this isn’t really an issue because the only thing being pumped into it that isn’t HD is the Wii, but that looks fine on the set because unlike your typical tv signal, the graphics are very ‘clean’ (at least they are over component).

FWIW, I bought mine off newegg and had zero problems receiving it fast and without any issues. There were a few places that had it for close to $100 cheaper than newegg but I went with them because I’ve bought a ton of shit from them over the years and never had a single bad experience.

Also, I’m with Raife about Amazon. I still use Amazon somewhat regularly, but the quality of their non-in-house vendors is very hit or miss these days and I’m really reluctant to buy things from their site anymore unless I’ve triple checked that the product is coming from Amazon itself and not one of those Amazon branded sub-stores.

Onecall, from what I’ve heard, is typically not that bad of a company to deal with. It really sounds like it was playing the middleman game through Amazon that was screwing you in this case.

Also, why is it that people always use the word “discount” when they talk about redeeming gift certificates. As though the certificates weren’t already an asinine interest-free loan of actual money, we also have mindfucked ourselves into thinking that using them is giving us some sort of doubleplus-good deal on items we purchase?

Ah, good to know. Right now, most of what we watch is SD (hopefully that will change when the DTV bird is turned on and we get an additional 50 or more HD channels.) But even on the networks, there are at least as many SD shows as those broadcast in HD.

I made the mistake of researching in the AV forums, I should know better (I used to be a very serious audiophile.) I was settled on a Sharp Aquos, then I started reading entire threads on “banding” on the Aquos LCDs. Argh!