Couple left fuming after they're told Â£800 TV has been ruined by them smoking
Thomas Defty and partner Denise Head were given a five-year guarantee with the £800 set, which was bought with inheritance money she was left by her mother.
Problems began when the 42in HD LED television started to show shadows on the screen.
And now Thomas, 53, has been left fuming after Panasonic said it would not fix the screen – because damage was caused by smoking.
They couple bought the TV from Calverts, in Church Street, Seaham, in 2012 and say both they and the store were told initially the screen would be repaired.
But the pair said they were later told by Panasonic that, after investigations, the damage had been caused by nicotine smoke and was not covered under guarantee.
Thomas, of Shakespeare Street, Seaham, said: “Panasonic said they’d sent photos away and we heard nothing for two weeks.
“Then when they phoned back they said they wouldn’t be fixing the TV because it was because of nicotine smoke,
“It’s disgraceful, they should be replacing the screen. It’s wrong.
“That television cost £800 and we’re both on benefits. I can’t see how it’s happened.
“They said there was external damage, smoke damage and pressure marks.
“Me and Denise smoke. We have about 20 a day, but we’re not in the same room all day and we have the window open, so it’s not a smoke-filled room.
“I’m not buying another thing from Panasonic again, and we’ve told our friends and family not to either.
“We used to get everything from them, but not any more.”
Since the problems, Thomas and Denise, 60, have spent £500 on a new television.
Thomas praised Calverts for their good customer care, saying the store took £200 off the cost of a new console.
A spokesman for Panasonic said the TV was taken to one its approved service centres and added: “Upon investigation and receipt of photographs the service centre advised that there was evidence of smoke ingress and a smell was also present which seemed to have caused the shadowing in the panel.
“Unfortunately this meant that the fault was not covered by the extended five-year warranty.
“The exposure to nicotine is classed as an environmental cause of damage; this unfortunately is not something that is classed as a manufacturing defect and was therefore not covered for repair by Panasonic.”
Smoke is likely to have made its way into the television set because they are not sealed units.
Manufacturer Panasonic said: “Our television sets are not sealed units, in that they have vents built in.
“In order to cool the panel – the screen – the television injects air from its surrounding environment and this is passed through to the viewing panel.
“The panel is manufactured with many layers of diffusers; when the set is exposed to air that contains nicotine this is subsequently also passed through the television and to the panel, which can then cause damage to the picture quality.
“I appreciate that it appears to be a rare occurrence; however, it is not something that is covered by us as the manufacturer, nor under the terms and condition of the warranty.
“Usually in these cases the customer is either then presented with the option of having this repaired at a charge, where applicable, or purchasing a new television set of their choice at a cost.”
Cleaning experts say a soft microfibre cloth should be used to clean a television regularly to remove nicotine.
Specialist LCD cleaner can also be bought or created using distilled water and rubbing alcohol, sweeping it across the screen in circular motions, making sure not to press too hard.
The cleaning.tips.net website recommend carrying out the process a couple of times a month. It also recommends quitting smoking, adding: “As long as you smoke near your TV, there will be a nicotine build-up.”