Australia’s leading consumer electronic retailer Harvey Norman has moved quickly to replace Hitachi 1080i 50″ plasma screens that were being sold as Full HD following complaints from consumers who claim that they were mislead by Hitachi advertising and marketing.
Customers who are upset that they were sold an Hitachi 1080i plasma under the guise of a superior 1080p model due to misleading advertising from the Japanese electronics brand, can receive a full refund for the TV if they contact their local Harvey Norman store – but neither Hitachi nor the retailer are advertising this fact.
SmartHouse News was contacted today by a disgruntled consumer who bought a 50-inch Hitachi 1080i plasma, as it was advertised as ‘Full HD’, for use as a client viewing monitor in his HD edit suite at media company Trace Elements Media in Adelaide.
According to the consumer – Trace Elements Media managing director, Tim Ash – the Harvey Norman store at which he bought his Hitachi plasma offered him a “replacement screen”.
“The store owner Branko Uzelac has just phoned [me] back and he is more than happy to swap the screen over for a better Full HD model. He was very accommodating and understood my issues straight away,” said Ash, in an email.
Upon investigation however, SmartHouse News has discovered that Hitachi itself is actually offering consumers a full refund of their purchase, in a move that essentially shows the company as acknowledging it has mislead consumers – contrary to a statement made by the company last Friday in which it stood by its actions wholeheartedly.
According to Harvey Norman Auburn franchisee – electrical, Grant Knight, if customers contact their local Harvey Norman store they will receive a refund which will come from Hitachi. However, Harvey Norman is calling the system a “replacement process” to encourage customers to spend their refund on another high definition screen from a Harvey Norman store.
“If someone is upset that they have a 1080i screen instead of a 1080p one then they get a refund,” said Knight.
One franchisee at Harvey Norman Bondi Junction has actually contacted two valued customers to let them know of the debacle and offer them a “replacement”.
The customers declined however, according to franchisee – electrical, Scott Lindsay.
“We’ve had no customer issues. We called customers but they had no problem,” he said.
The email that SmartHouse News received this morning from Trace Elements Media, however, suggests that Harvey Norman hopes to keep its customers despite the Hitachi Full HD debacle.
“Looks like the problem is solved nice and easily for me,” said Ash, who will now choose a “better Full HD model” from Harvey Norman City Cross’s other plasma offerings.
Branko Uzelac of Harvey Norman in Rundle Street Adelaide said “Hitachi have agreed to take back their screens. They have been misleading as I see it is is like buying a Ford Territory. There is the Ghia and there is the Ghia Turbo. 1080p is the Turbo”.
He also claimed that Channel 10 were misleading customers by claiming that their new HD TV Channel was Full HD. “It is not” he said.
Barry Mason of NSW wrote in an email to SmartHouse “Hitachi nor anyone else for that matter should be allowed to pass 1080i HDTV sets as anything else but what they are which is High Definition and not 1080p Full High Definition.
There is a clear difference between a 1080i and 1080p signal so why should it be anything else.
Channel 10 have compounded the problem further by advertising that their HD signal is Full High Definition when it’s clear that it isn’t. You don’t see channels 7 or 9 or ABC saying their HD signals are full HD just as you don’t see Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Pioneer or any other manufacturer. If I had purchased a Hitachi Flat panel display thinking it was full HD 1080p (because Hitachi said it was) only to find out it wasn’t I would be asking for my money back”.
In a clarification of an earlier claim Laurie Nolan Marketing Manager at Sharp said “I am not a proponent of a common logo. At the Wednesday 31st October meeting of the Australian Digital Suppliers Industry Forum (ADSIF – part of AEEMA), I voted in favour of individual supplier logos, but that we as an industry should have a … “common understanding” of what Full HD means. This would need to be expressed either as a “Code of Practice” or possibly written into an appropriate “Australian Standard”.
When SmartHouse News contacted Hitachi to comment Geoff Hannaford the National Sales and Marketing Manager for the Japanese Company said “We’re not talking to SmartHouse. The best thing for you to do would be to speak to our lawyers.”
When SmartHouse contacted Hitachi’s in-house legal Counsel George Siiderous a very emotional Mr Siderous said” This is all bullshit so are your stories. No one in Hitachi has told you to call me”.
“You have never spoken to Harvey Norman the issue has been blown out of proportion. Get off this line”. He then hung up on SmartHouse.