On Your Side: Panasonic HDTV Warranty Problem

I bought a Panasonic HDTV last year at the Yokota Air Base Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). A month after the one-year warranty expired, the TV would no longer turn on. On Panasonic.net, I found contact information for Panasonic in Tokyo, where I'm stationed. The reps that I contacted said that they wouldn't service an American-made mod­el and that I needed to get service through the store where I purchased the item. The AAFES directed me to a repair service on base that is contracted with Panasonic. After taking my TV in, I contacted Panasonic.com to see if it would cover the repairs, but its reps just referred me back to Panasonic.net (a completely different site). Can you help?

Valarry Smith, SMSgt, USAF, Tokyo

OYS responds: A quick Internet search showed that other people were having the same problem with Smith's particular model. After we contacted Panasonic about Smith's issue, a company representative arranged to have the repairs expedited and to cover their cost. Smith says the TV is now working fine.

When shopping for a big-ticket item such as an HDTV, it pays to research if other people have reported trouble with the model you're considering. An easy way to do that is to conduct a search using the brand and model names and the word "problem" as keywords. Then if a particular issue--power, for example, or warranty--catches your eye, learn more about it by doing a search using that term; in addition, in­­stead of using "problem" in the search string, use the phrase "problem solved" to see if results show that the issue can be dealt with easily.

Missing Number

Mary Alice Hunter of Portland, Oregon, contacted us after she downloaded some software but couldn't get a working li­­cense registration number for it. Hunter paid $23.90 to register Adblock Pro, an add-on for Internet Explorer. Despite twice e-mailing the company (named Adblock Pro as well), she didn't receive the necessary number. Adblock Pro took a week and a half to respond to the first message and didn't reply to the second.

Because Hunter hadn't been able to get what she needed within a month after her purchase, she had no confidence that the product was being supported and wanted to get her money back. After we contacted Adblock Pro about Hunter's problem, a company representative gave her a refund.

Recall of Hazardous Fake BlackBerry Batteries

Asurion, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is recalling about 470,000 counterfeit BlackBerry-branded cell phone batteries. The batteries were used in refurbished BlackBerry devices distributed by Asurion through a handset protection program prior to November 1, 2009. The counterfeit batteries can overheat, posing burn and fire hazards. Asurion has received two reports of such overheating, causing minor burns to a consumer in addition to slight property damage. Consumers should immediately stop using the batteries and contact Asurion to arrange a free battery exchange. For more information, call the toll-free number 866/384-9175 or visit the company's battery-exchange Website at www.001batex.com.

Do you have a problem with a hardware or software vendor involving customer service, a warranty, a rebate, or the like? E-mail onyourside@pcworld.com. We can't address every issue, but we will try to handle those of greatest interest.

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