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Hard to recall

Do product recalls make you think twice about a company or technology?

Pam Carroll

Pam Carroll

Commentary I believe that most vendors try to do the right thing by their customers, but occasionally things go wrong. It is significant news today then, that Sharp is undertaking a recall of its 42-inch LCD TV models due to a potentially serious overheating and electrical problem.

For the proponents of LCDs who are trying desperately to stake a bigger claim in the popular 42-inch size bracket that has traditionally been the domain of plasma TVs, the recall is a set-back. Sharp's apology and determination to "protect the integrity of their Brand in the marketplace" is admirable, but one statement in its press announcement has me concerned.

After explaining where to find the model and serial numbers on the TVs, it goes on to say "if a green dot is found on the identification plate, the 42-inch LCD TV has already been inspected and corrected and there is no need for further action." What does that imply? How long were they working the green dot system before they decided the recall was necessary?

I appreciate that in addition to the PR disaster, companies with problems with home theatre products that require in-home visits by repair personnel to fix must also wear huge expenses in terms of both time and dollars. Just ask LG.

A few weeks ago, CNET.com.au contacted LG on behalf of one of our readers who was still waiting for a repair visit to deal with LG's problems with frozen digital TV transmissions. Some six weeks after LG announced its in-home software upgrade, the feedback from LG on the status of the exercise was that roughly 60 percent of customers had been completed at that time, at a rate of over 600 units per day. Clearly, it was no small task.

UPDATE June 1, 2007: CNET.com.au has had a conversation with Denis Kerr, Deputy Managing Director, Sharp Corporation of Australia, and can now reveal more detail regarding the state of the company's recall of its 42-inch LCD TVs.

  • The total number of recalled units across Australia and New Zealand is 2500. Of that number, approximately half have been recovered from retailers' stock, leaving the total number of consumers affected in the neighbourhood of 1200-1300.
  • The green dot system on the identification plates of the recalled models, which denotes that the unit has been inspected and fixed, applies to stock that was "frozen" in the Sharp warehouse at the time of recall. Therefore, fixed models with green dots have only been available for sale post the recall announcement on May 26.

Kerr reiterated that the problem was identified through internal company testing and that no incidents of damage of any kind have been reported by consumers. The voluntary recall relates to a small piece of conductive foam that the company believes could have slipped its double-sided adhesive tape mounting to damage the circuit board. Australia and New Zealand are the only countries that require this foam protection in the EMC area of the television and the fix involves replacing it with a more secure casing.

Does Sharp's product recall make you think twice about Sharp or LCD technology? Is it just a one-off case of bad luck? How much does a company's customer service record impact your future buying choices?
Tell us what you think below!