TVs should have a best before date

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

Coming from an age (please, no sympathy required) when, if things lasted a whole week or even a month, you felt grateful, one item caught my eye recently.

I came across a vice (think carpentry, not a liking for alcohol or tobacco) being offered with a 25-year manufacturer’s guarantee.

This made me ponder the prospect that it could outlive it’s potential owner, me.

I pointed this out to the super duper salesman who was talking me through what it did (as if I needed telling), while considering that he had probably spent umpteen minutes or more, even seconds, standing in front of the bathroom mirror trying to keep a straight face and muttering the glaringly obvious about the workings of a vice (I’d love to hear him going on about a hammer).

After all, how often do you use a vice? It’s not like it’s in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So, bearing in mind that it only has four main parts – a base, sliding jaw and a threaded device with a bar – why does it need to carry such a long guarantee?

The bench it’s bolted to may go first due to a delayed bout of Dutch elm disease or a particularly nasty attack by an angry woodpecker.

In light of this, I asked whether, due to my advancing years, it would be possible to have it with, say, a 12-year guarantee and a reduced price.

Sadly, I must relate that this was not an agreeable solution – he didn’t even feel the need to check with his supervisor.

What a shame, I would love to think of the reading of my will: “To Algernon Proudfoot, I do leave my vice, an eight-inch capacity super deluxe model with quick release jaw feature, with the remainder of the 15-year guarantee to run pro rata, as in page seven of the aforesaid no-quibble document relating to ongoing ownership.”

Oh, the simple joys of material ownership.

Returning to more material matters, I noted a major retailer was offering a reasonable flat screen television at a very reasonable price.

Having done my homework on the model, I reserved it online and received an order number to enable me to pick it up from my local store. So far, so good.

In the meantime, I picked up a brochure giving a breakdown (electrical, not emotional) of the various care packages I could take out to cover its lifespan (hang on a minute while I get it ... talk among yourselves if you must ... now, I know it’s here somewhere ... ah, yes – got it).

I noted that it was possible to get a four-year cover for it conking out for £74, which I didn’t consider to be unreasonable.

I presented myself at the counter in store with my order reference number, at which point I was asked if I wanted to take out an extended warranty.

I replied in the affirmative, stating that I would like the four-year jobby. I could tell by the look on her face that she was either lost or had just been told that the staff cigarette break was no longer being affiliated with the tea break.

I was told that they only did a three-year plan at just over £69.

I pointed out that there was a whole pile of brochures at the end of the counter which states quite plainly that there is a four-year deal available.

Plan B. “I’ll go and ask my supervisor,” said the cashier, and off she went.

On her return, she confirmed there was only a three-year cover available as – wait for it – “televisions today don’t have a long life.”

This told me all I needed to know and underlined the fact that our present model – now in its sixth year – is running on borrowed time and I should think about getting it put into a care home for old age tellies pronto.

Based on this information, I wonder why manufacturers don’t mention this minor point in the blurb for their products ... that they, apparently, have a shelf, or wall life, depending on where you hang it, that is probably a bit longer than a best before date on a decent loaf of bread.

By now, we had an outbreak of silence and I was asked what I wanted to do. I said I would cancel the care plan as, if they couldn’t supply what I required as printed in the company brochure, then it was pointless.

I mentioned the Sale of Goods Act and I think the cashier thought I was referring to something to do with non-motor driven ships and boats.

Disenchanted, I came away and found a model online with similar specifications and price, with free delivery and a five-year guarantee included in the price. It arrived yesterday.

I have printed the email off with the reference number, plus the brochure, and will leave them in my will to show you can’t believe everything you read, with the exception of the said will, that is.