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Call Kurtis: Replacement Parts Run Out For Giant HDTVs

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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Even when he’s not at the game, Bailey Varnado has the best seats in the house.

“The JumboTron!” he said, laughing. “That’s how it looks.”

His living room and family room are each fitted with identical 82-inch rear-projection HDTVs from Mitsubishi — an expensive investment totaling more than $23,300, but one worth every penny to Varnado.

“You pay for longevity, you buy stuff that’s gonna last,” he said.

He was happy until he started getting messages saying the bulbs were going out — and until Mitsubishi told him the replacement bulbs aren’t made anymore.

“That just means I have a big box,” he said, gesturing to his TV, “[a big box] that doesn’t do anything.”

Customers spend a lot of money on electronics. Generally, Varnado’s notion holds true — the more expensive products tend to be higher in quality and oftentimes last much longer.

It was exactly what happened when Varnado bought a 65-inch Mitsubishi TV in 1987, he said, and almost 25 years later, it still works.

So can companies just stop making parts? The answer is two-fold.

California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires manufacturers have to make parts for “at least seven years after the date a product model or type was manufactured.”

Varnado bought one of the TVs in 2004, and the other in 2006, but both were manufactured at the same time in 2004, according to the TVs themselves.

That means his TVs are just a few months outside the seven-year window.

“What really is going to matter is the actual manufacture date of the television,” said Russ Heimerich of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs.

Mitsubishi told CBS13 it ran out of the lamps in June, and said: “Every once in a while, we run into a situation like this where a vendor runs out of a part. If that happens, we do our best to satisfy a customer with a heavily discounted price on a new TV.”

Mitsubishi offered Varnado a new 82-inch TV for $2,500, including tax and shipping, but said it will not offer anything further to Varnado until his bulbs officially die.

Varnado didn’t think that was a fair price, and now he isn’t sure what to do with the TVs.

“I don’t know. Probably the dump” he said. “I don’t know, but I still have to pay to get it moved.”

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