LG and Square Trade: Never again

*** Warning: Lengthy Consumer Rant ***

This is a smart LG television (OLED55B8PUA, 2018 model):

This is the 13-page Square Trade extended warranty on that television:

I strongly suggest you not buy either.

I purchased this tv in January 2019. The picture is spectacular. No complaints until sometime late last year, I’d guess, when occasionally the onscreen program guide would not populate. The form would appear, but the space for program titles just said “loading” or “no information.” Eventually, one way or another, it usually fixed itself. Meanwhile, my Xfinity remote would (and still does) pull up the Comcast program guide, so I just make do with two remotes.

This is my LG onscreen program guide

Earlier this year, however, the LG program guide failed again and there seemed to be no way to get it back. To be precise, LG occasionally automatically (with my prior approval) downloads software updates to their tvs. After each of these you have to navigate to and approve the “User Agreement” for everything to take effect. The last time this happened, I could not download the User Agreement. This, apparently, was the reason my “auto channel tuning” wouldn’t work and the program guide wouldn’t populate. So, failing to find a solution online, I called LG support on May 5.

After some conversation with an LG tech and a lengthy, tedious troubleshooting routine on the tv, his conclusion was (and I quote from the transcript of our conversation):

“Problem is the software controlling the mainboard is bad ,the mainboard will need to be replaced. I can provide you with information on how to do that …”

By then I was too exhausted from all the troubleshooting to pursue the matter. In the course of our closing conversation, however, the tech did recommend I buy a Samsung next time because LGs have a lot of problems. That was after I mentioned that my previous smart tv, a Samsung, had worked perfectly for 8 years and I replaced it only to get a larger screen.

A few weeks later I remembered I’d purchased an extended warranty on the LG tv from Square Trade (both purchased from Amazon), and decided to pursue the issue.

Knowing the manufacturer’s warranty had expired, I started with Square Trade this time (June 11, per my phone log). The process began by establishing a claim ID online. Eventually I found myself talking to “Jason” (who knows if those anonymous voices on the phone use their real names). More troubleshooting and then a transfer to “John,” a tech at LG.

John had no record of my call back in May, so we launched once again into the troubleshooting routine. Let me note here for those of you who don’t have smart tvs: They are basically just computers with big screens attached. On mine there is a list of 7 different menus controlling picture, sound, network, etc., and each of those menus has several submenus. Troubleshooting entails following instructions step by step to get to different submenus and change the specified settings to see what happens. Depending on what happens or doesn’t happen, more instructions follow. All this after the usual computer fixes: unplug and replug the device, the router, etc.

After perhaps 20 or 30 minutes, with my tv settings a complete mess, John finally realizes that hey, the LG warranty is expired. You should be talking to Square Trade. Meanwhile, all this time I thought ST’s Jason had been listening in on the “conference” call, but no, he wasn’t there. I’ll switch you back, says LG’s John, signing off. (By now we were barely being polite with each other because I was confused and he was impatient.) So the phone call back to ST began ringing … and ringing … and ringing. Frustrated and angry beyond words, I finally hung up. And then spent about an hour getting my tv and Xbox settings back to where they were before all the expert “help.”

If you’re a real glutton for punishment, keep reading. I’m about to launch Chapter 2 of this saga.

In late June, for some reason, I was in a particularly calm and confident mood, perhaps because the weather was notably cooler, and I decided to give it one more try. I gathered all my notes, reviewed everything that had transpired before, took a deep breath, and called Square Trade.

“Huzaisah” (sp?) took the call and I launched into the story. Claim ID number, model number, serial number, and SMC code (whatever that is) gleaned from the label on the back of the wall-mounted tv. Let’s do some troubleshooting, says he. No, absolutely not doing that again, says I. Well, says ST, sounds like it might be a software problem and we’ll need to talk to an LG tech on a conference call. 

Enter LG’s “Sam.” Immediately we’re in trouble. Sam has no record of my previous calls. And although my phone log says the last exchange was on June 11, ST thinks it was June 12 (At this point I wasn’t going to argue about the date). And no, I will not go through the troubleshooting routine again!!

At this point my notes, with all the names and arrows, get a bit confusing, but I think maybe ST’s “Daniel” is now on the line with Sam and me. Bottom line, the two of them end up trying to negotiate a deal of some sort. ST says the problem is software and their warranty doesn’t cover software (news to me). LG says it’s hardware, but their manufacturer’s warranty has expired. LG can refer me to an authorized service center near me who will send out a tech to examine the tv and decide what the problem is. Will LG pay for the service call? No. LG asks ST if they’ll pay for it. No.

Right about then I hung up on their discussion, too disgusted for words.

Oh, I did eventually go back and poke around online again, looking for solutions. Seems LG’s “can’t download User Agreement” problem goes back to at least 2017!

And I did scour the 13 pages of mouseprint and finally found the exclusion that apparently Square Trade is hanging their hat on:

That’s the only mention of software I could find, and I interpret that as meaning if LG’s software “updates” cause the problem, the ST warranty won’t cover it.

Did I mention you shouldn’t buy an LG tv? Did I mention you shouldn’t buy a Square Trade warranty?

Yeah. Don’t. Just don’t.


Note: A few days later, after consulting the internet yet again and trying several suggested solutions to the problem, I made a wee bit of progress. One of the suggestions mentioned disconnecting the tv from my existing home wifi and trying a different one. So I fired up a hotspot on my phone, changed the tv’s wifi to the hotspot, and did somehow manage to download a User Agreement, which I promptly agreed to. I then switched the tv back to my home wifi. The signed User Agreement was and is still in place, but the program guide croaked again the next day and remains as seen above. 

(Kudos to you if you actually read this entire post!)

12 thoughts on “LG and Square Trade: Never again

  1. Aargh!! What a nightmare! My sympathies!

    I never buy extended warranties, just for the reason you experienced. There’s too much wiggle-room for them in the mouse-print (nice turn of phrase, that.) Another couple of thoughts. I have noticed on Consumer Reports that different products from the same company often have different reliability histories. We have an LG refrigerator that’s 4 or 5 years old now and it’s the best appliance we’ve ever had, easy to clean, perfect design, works flawlessly (including the ice maker.) And, speaking of technical service, the main reason I have stuck with Apple for phones and computers is their outstanding tech service. It’s sure a complex world out there!

    1. This was the first extended warranty I’ve ever purchased, and it will be the last. It just seemed like a good idea, given the price of the tv and the many hours a day I use it. I’ve always liked and trusted LG products, but from now on, there will always be some doubt … Perhaps, as my son suggests, I should think of it not as a product failure but as a customer service failure, which it certainly was. For all I know, I’m just one obscure setting away from a fully functioning program guide, but customer service failed to get me there.

    1. Seriously!? An LG battery? Lots of us out here want to know about electric car problems — for future reference. (Frankly, though, I expect my 10-year-old gasoline-powered Subaru Forester to outlast me. It’s paid for, has laughably low mileage, and still runs great.) (Er, knock wood)
      Not going to start over on the TV just yet. It is a magnificent picture, and I’ve only had it since January 2019.

  2. Samsung customer service is just as bad if not worse I hear everywhere….
    (I get so tired of repeating and repeating to various levels from the beginning …then to call back later and be told “there’s no record of your call…”)

    1. Oh, terrific. There go the two top brands. Maybe that’s the problem. They have no need to serve their customers. Honestly, wouldn’t you expect in this day and age that they’d have every minute of your prior conversations completely and thoroughly documented? Especially given how expensive their products are. Reminds me of my old personal mantra — customer service is everything. Good service earns my lifetime devotion.

  3. What a shocker, but so real life. I think we have all got stories to tell along the same lines and I think it is all a big con on the public. Software is always a problem no matter what uses it. It goes out of date and contains glitches. Our home computers get regular updates you need to download. Unfortunately some of them have new glitches that need patches to fix, which you have to wait for. We have an old Samsung LED 46in, which we have never had a problem with. I was eyeing up a bigger OLED tv, because of their superior picture quality, but I think i’ll wait! In the new smart world they are creating these problems are only going to get worse. Luckily none of our appliances are smart so we are still in control.

    1. For me it’s become a matter of keeping my tv screen, my glasses, and my eyes all matched up well enough for me to read the small type in my video games. To date, only one of the three has software problems.

  4. I’ve had Samsung tv’s for years now and love them. Are they perfect? Far from it. But I’ve always been satisfied…. for the most part. Bought a bit 55″ curved screen a few years ago. Just about one-year later, a faint dark “column” started showing right in the middle of the screen. Eventually, the entire right side of my screen started fading black – as if the saturation was too dark. Well, manufacturers warranty had ran out. I emailed photos to a local tv repairman and had something to do with a chip. I looked online and apparently that was a fairly common problem with that specific model. Repairman could fix it, however, being a curved-screen model, there can be complications – basically, the screen breaks. So, I just opted for a new tv. Same thing, for the most part, as I love the tv. Samsung, 55″, curved screen. But it’s a newer model and that problem was solved. Bought it at Best Buys (shudder) and purchased their Geek Squad extended warranty this time. That was last November and so far, so good. I love it. Has all the newest bells and whistles. Apps galore – but I only use a few. Now I do use 2 remotes. I use the Xfinity for regular tv. But then switch to my Samsung remote for apps, Netflix, Amazon, etc.

    I never expect tech to be perfect so when something I’ve bought (I almost have all Samsung products – phone, tablets, TV, refrigerator, etc) has problems or fizzles, I just move on to getting the newest model. I love upgrading. Although, now, post-pandemic (?are we really post-pandemic?) I definitely don’t have the same income so I’m just hoping my tech continues working without problems.

    1. I don’t understand the appeal of curved screen TVs, but since I’ve never seen one, I can’t really draw any conclusions.

      I use the two remotes to have full access to my TV’s functions, particularly the program guides, but all my streaming content and apps come via my Xbox. (Actually, I think most also are accessed via the TV, but historically I’m used to using the Xbox, and I’m getting increasingly reluctant to tackle new technology. I use the LG remote to change the input to the Xbox, and from there I use the Xbox controller to navigate. I love upgrading too, when I can afford it. I’d love to get a new phone, but hard to justify it when the current Pixel 3XL works just fine and the new Samsung phones now exceed $1,000. Ouch!! But then I could get a smartwatch to go with it. Double ouch.

      What can I say. I have a love-hate relationship with modern technology. But mostly love.

... and that's my two cents