Crucial Tips for Second-Hand 4K TV Deals: The headaches could be heavier than the savings
Stephan Jukic – February 28, 2017
Premium 4K UHD TVs, whether they’re the latest 2017 models or older 2016 and 2015 televisions, can be quite pricey. This applies particularly no name brand former or current flagship TVs from the likes of Sony, LG and Samsung and it applies even more so to the best TVs with today’s best display technology, OLED.
With this being the case and plenty of potential buyers working with a tight budget, it’s easy to understand why you might want to look out for incredibly good deals on these kinds of TVs and get excited if you find them. This we can all understand.
Thus, we’re not talking here about new TV purchases from authorized new-model retailers like Best Buy, Amazon and other smaller players. Often they’ll have superb discount prices on high-end 4K HDR TVs and if you stumble across them, go for it if you like what you see. For our tips on buying those TVs, check out this post. Even used TVs bought through Amazon or other retailers can be a great deal assuming there’s a warranty involved and you know exactly what that warranty covers. It’s second hand and other secondary market 4K TVs that get sold under some less than ideal conditions that might be problematic for you as a buyer.
In other words looking for a deal by itself obviously isn’t the issue. No, the problem is what might happen when you get so hooked on a too-good-to-be-true price for a very high-end TV that you forget to worry about warranty protection and the potential for crappy product quality. Let’s go over the pitfalls and possibilities.
Modern TVs are pretty tough and a unit that’s fresh out of the box will almost certainly work just fine for a long time before it starts glitching up. However, TVs are also far from failure-free and they are indeed very complex pieces of hardware with expensive parts. Furthermore, even completely new models can sometimes breakdown quickly and unexpectedly, or come right out of the box defective. If you bought a brand new premium TV, having these defects happen is annoying but easily fixed by a call to your retailer or manufacturer.
With used TVs from second-hand retailers, private sellers or other kinds of unusual retailers who offer major discounts in exchange for lack of replacement and repair coverage, what you paid for is what you get and there’s no going back on the deal. So even if your newly bought 2016 Samsung SUHD KS9000 TV cost you $700 less than it would new from some second-hand seller, if you come home to find the screen unable to display light, you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Worst of all, paying to get the TV fixed will possibly eat away almost all of the savings you thought the TV had given you (and this is not to mention time lost driving it to a repair shop and back again).
Bottom line here: You absolutely should get a solid warranty and preferably from the manufacturer itself, for at least a year of coverage. This is worth more than any used TV discount.
Untrustworthy retailers and used/open-box TVs
The internet is a great place for buying great electronics at seriously competitive prices from reliable, honest retailers but at the same time, this huge space can be an ocean of shady sales practices and shady sales websites. Some websites offer suspiciously deep discounts on premium 4K TVs and while the offers they present can look tempting as hell, they’re a serious case of buyer beware. From used TVs with high likelihoods of damage parts to mostly new 4K TVs with after-market parts which void their factory warranty and also void their normal factory standards of quality, all sorts of consumer-unfriendly sales practices can be found on the web from lesser-known third party sellers.
This isn’t to say that these types of retailers are all dishonest, far from it, and the majority are probably going to do their best to offer a great product at a competitive price, but if you see a website selling a premium 4K TV like one of Samsung’s 2016 SUHD HDR models, Sony’s premium HDR 4K televisions or even OLED HDR TVs from LG at discounts that cut hundreds of dollars off the typical retail price. You might be buying a TV that’s already been used too much, returned and possibly had some of its parts replaced with cheap knock-offs that don’t deliver the same sort of quality. (This can be a particular problem with TV display panels).
One possible example of at least part of the above that recently came across our attention here at 4K.com was a case of a retailer called Abe’s of Maine which one of our readers claimed was offering exceptionally deep discounts on Samsung’s 2016 flagship, the KS9800 for as low a price as $2,399 and supposedly claiming that they were selling two different versions of the TV on their site! with the more affordable version being a Chinese-made model with a 4-bit display panel. Now while we ourselves have never dealt with this retailer and can’t vouch for the validity of the reader comment in question, we’ve never heard of KS9800 modles with 4-bit panels. Furthermore the claim described sounds very familiar as a sort of bait & switch offer on a used, previously repaired TV that no longer comes with the original quality parts it’s supposed to include. A run-through of reviews of this particular retailer indicated that multiple consumers had experienced similar situations with other electronics bought through them.
In another possible discount TV scenario, you might be getting your hands on a an “Open-box” TV that’s basically “new” in the sense that it hasn’t been used much or at all but which was at some point removed from its original packaging for some reason and then placed back in. TVs under bought with these conditions attached to them may end up working just fine but they could also end up defective and, again, with no complete factory warranty to cover you if they break down. Again, deep discounts are worth little if they mean a high likelihood of damaged goods or failure shortly after purchase.
It’s also worth noting one more reason to be suspicious of overly large third party retailer discounts on what should be a new, fairly high-end 4K TV model. Most major manufacturers try to sort of protect their biggest retailers’ sales margins and they do this mainly by establishing what is called a “unilateral pricing policy”, by which they convince retailers not to discount prices too much by threatening to refuse further product shipping or not honor factory warranties for those who overdo their MSRP discounts.
Finally, there’s the issue of shipping problems with used 4K TVs of any kind. The premium HDR TVs of today are robust, well-made pieces of consumer technology but their original factory packaging offers the best overall guarantee of their quality at the time they were made and boxed. This applies to their safety during shipping too. Every subsequent time these TVs get pulled from their padded boxes and repackaged for any further sales makes them less secure during whatever secondary shipping they go through and makes the likelihood of defective parts and problems with the TV much higher.
What you absolutely want to aim for is a 4K TV that has been packaged and shipped as minimally as possible and new TVs from reliable retailers or the manufacturer itself are the winners at this.
A Final Word
We’re not at all saying that you should completely stay away from any 4K TV unless you can buy it from its manufacturer, Amazon, Best Buy, or some other mega-corporation. Supporting smaller re-sellers while trying to get a legitimate good deal are both great ideas. What we are however recommending is that if you’re going to go buy what you hope is one fantastic piece of home entertainment technology, you might as well make sure to get the best product protection you can for it. This is worth more than pinching on sales price savings and your best bet for such protection is to avoid all the pitfalls above.
Story by 4k.com