How Harvey Norman Screwed Up Over Hitachi Plasma

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The demise of Hitachi raises serious questions about the business practises of Harvey Norman and the way in which this retailer, who has a major share of the consumer electronics marketplace makes demands of vendors.

Several weeks ago we revealed that Harvey Norman had demanded that Hitachi rebate consumers who had purchased via a Harvey Norman store a 50″ Hitachi on the basis that it was sold as 1080p when in fact the Hitachi 50″ plasma TVs sold in Harvey Norman stores was only 1080i. 


Click to enlarge
The Harvey Norman Catalogue advertising Australia’s first 1080p Hitachi 50″ plasma TV. This is false advertising.
These rebates were up to $1,500 and in some cases consumers were able to keep their new plasma TV. In other cases Hitachi were forced to rebate the entire cost of the plasma screen.

When we broke the story Harvey Norman management insisted that they were the ones who had been misled by Hitachi.

 They also forced Hitachi to accept responsibility for the problem and demanded that Hitachi offer customers rebates of up to $1,500. They also telephoned customers to offer them a deal on a new non Hitachi 1080p TV at the expense of Hitachi.

However investigations by SmartHouse have revealed that it was Harvey Norman who engaged in misleading conduct by syndicating thousands of Harvey Norman catalogues that offered for sale a Hitachi 50″ plasma which they said was 1080p.

The catalogue advertisement that is shown here claimed that the Hitachi 50″ plasma was Australia’s first 1080p plasma.
This was clearly not true.

A  simple check by Harvey Norman of either the Hitachi Australia or the Hitachi global web site at the time that this catalogue appeared would would have revealed that Hitachi were in fact only delivering a 1080i Full HD plasma TV and not a 1080p Full HD plasma.

The catalogue clearly reveals that it was Harvey Norman who engaged in misleading practises. Howver instead of accepting responsibility for their mistakes, Harvey Norman demanded that Hitachi accept responsibility.

We believe that the onus is on Harvey Norman to not only check  the specifications of what they are buying but to then communicate the correct information to consumers. In this case they failed to both independently check the accuracy of the information and then communicate the right information to consumers.

Harvey Norman also, according to many emails recieved at SmartHouse, told consumers buying the Hitachi 50″ plasma TV that it was a Full HD 1080p model. 

 

The copy in the Harvey Norman catalogue said at the time:


  HITACHI (50″) 127CM HD TV


16:9 aspect ratio, integrated digital tuner, three HDMI inputs, One Touch remote control.
They also claim that the Hitachi plasma TV features innovations such as frame rate conversion, an image processor which inserts additional frames in the image for smoother playback of 24 frames per second cinema content.

The advertisement also claims that the TV delivers “Energy Bonus” savers. However the retailer fails to qualify what energy saving the Hitachi screen delivers. My understanding is that plasma is energy hungry and compared to several other TV technologies fails to deliver any energy savings.

 

When SmartHouse first revealed that Harvey Norman had been selling Hitachi Plasma TVs as 1080p and not 1080i the company blamed Hitachi claiming that Harvey Norman had been misled by Hitachi.

Now it appears that Harvey Norman has failed to properly research what they were buying. Visits by SmartHouse to several Harvey Norman stores during the period of the controversy revealed that Harvey Norman staff was still telling customers that the TV screens were 1080p when basic research would have revealed that they were in fact 1080i.

Early this month Hitachi decided to quit the Australian market.

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