Was this a Surge and Collecting on a Surge Protector's Warranty

Hello all,

A friend of mine experienced what seems to be a power surge the other day. Simultaneously, his HDTV, PS3, and a Dell PC died. All three were on the same house circuit. His HDTV and PS3 were plugged into a Staple's brand surge protection, the is computer was plugged into a neighboring wall outlet.

I can't get the hyperlink to work right. The link has a ":" followed by "D" that the forum keeps turning into a :D. Damn smilies. :pfff:

The HDTV is a brick; it shows no sign of life whatsoever. The PS3 will turn on, but there is no video signal, nor audio. Essentially, the light comes on and fans spin. The PC is also a brick. The surge protector, however, shows no sign of damage at all. The little "protected" light is on, and things plugged into it works. Other electronics in the room also seem to have survived unscathed. A cable modem, Linksys wireless router, and CRT seem ok, but AFAIK they were plugged into a different surge protector. Because three separate components all died at the exact same time, I can only think that this was a surge. My guess is that the surge was just strong enough to damage the more sensitive equipment, but not so strong as to kill everything. Agree?

Second, the surge protector says it comes with $150,000 worth of protection for connected equipment. Have any of you ever had any luck collecting on such a warranty. I can't find the fine print for Staples' policy. I have found one for another company, and it is drafted in such a way that it is essentially impossible to comply with its terms. For example, the equipment had to be registered with them, you have to file a claim within 15 days, and you have to have the original receipts for everything. (side note: as a lawyer I'm not so sure that all those terms would be enforceable; but fighting would be crazy effort). So if any of you have any experience with collecting on these sorts of claims, I would appreciate any insight.

If there is no coverage, I guess he can always turn to the home owners insurance policy.

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  1. gimpy1 said:
    A friend of mine experienced what seems to be a power surge the other day. Simultaneously, his HDTV, PS3, and a Dell PC died. All three were on the same house circuit. His HDTV and PS3 were plugged into a Staple's brand surge protection, the is computer was plugged into a neighboring wall outlet.
    Welcome to reality. BTW, all appliances on both sides of the protector got same protection. Yes, if your appliance is connected to another duplex receptacle shared by the protector, then it is the exact same protection circuit.

    If all those appliances were damaged by a surge, then the surge found earth ground destructively through those appliances. Good luck getting that warranty honored. So chock full of exemptions as to be useless. All part of the game. Same game that, well, where does that protector actually claim protection from each type of surge in numeric specs?

    Your mistake was to let a surge into the building. To let it find earth ground via appliances. Surge protector means a surge is absorbed by earth - does not even enter the building. Reliable facilities use and better earth 'whole house' protectors. Even 100 years ago, telcos connect all wires short to earth via a protector before that wire enters the building. For better protection, that protector is up to 50 meters separated from electronics. But again, that was well understood even 100 years ago. Instead, many are ‘expert’ because it said 'surge protector' on its box.

    Learn from your mistake. Learn why only responsible companies manufacture 'whole house' protectors: Siemens, Keison, Polyphaser, Square D, Leviton, Intermatic, GE ... A Cutler-Hammer (Eaton) 'whole house' protector sells in Lowes for less than $50.

    What provides the protection? Does a protector stop what three miles of sky could not? Of course not. An effective protector connects short (ie 'less than 10 foot') to the same earth electrode also used by the telephone, cable, and satellite dish wires. Essential is the single point earth ground. Then massive surge energy is harmlessly dissipated in earth - does not even enter your building.

    A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Where is that dedicated earthing wire on the Staples protector? Missing - along with any protection claims in its numeric specs. Learn from the experience. Where is that numeric spec that claimed any protection? Does not exist. Why do so many believe it? Because it has a big buck and mythical warranty?
  2. I doubt you get the warranty to go through.

    Good luck on home oners insurance also, same red tape, and also includes "does not cover acts of god."
  3. I don't know if it is an urban myth or not but I thing it took out a PC of mine. I lighting burst close to the house (but not striking the house) can produce an EMP burst or high frequency waves that can destroy electronics. I had lighting burst close to the house but never could find any signs of touchdown. Some componets in the PC were bad and some scattered devices were damaged but I was able to repair the PC. I've been an HVAC tech for 10 yrs so I know the results of a direct hit on a house or even the ground around it. My experience with insurance issues I was never allowed to say surge damage on any equipment because unless I had a data logger in place to prove the voltage increase it would fail in court.
  4. While I must agree with the previous posts regarding "good luck getting that one honored," I would also recommend giving it a shot. Not many people will have these, but it would help a bit if he was able to show receipts for the items he'd like to have reimbursed. At the very least, have handy their current values as listed on your average web site like Best Buy, and be very clear about the total value for which you'd like to be compensated.

    In a sense, this will be a test of one's negotiation skills. Some folks hate this stuff. Some folks relish it. Equate it to a car buying experience. The service rep is naturally inclined to hose you, whether they say you are seeing their best offer or not. "There is nothing I can do." Be polite, confident, ask to speak with a manager if and when you are unable to get the result from the typical service rep. But when you ask for the manager, be polite. Try your best not to come across as someone who thinks the service rep sucks (even though we know a lot of them do, otherwise they wouldn't be service reps).

    A line like "Ma'am, I really appreciate your help in this, but I just feel like I put a lot of faith in the product I bought to protect my home, and this still happened. Is there someone else who could help us resolve this matter and give me back my confidence in Staples products?"

    As a last resort, I might even go so far as to roleplay a little and act like you write articles for TomsHardware and you are considering a piece on faulty surge protectors, which would place the one you refer to in last place from the author's own personal experience. It might be helpful to pull up a quick statistic about how many unique hits TomsHardware gets each day.

    I reckon you'll get a positive result from all of this. And just because the technologically inclined always benefit, I'd record the entire conversation. I've heard of cases where someone will threaten you with fraud to try and scare you away from your claim (US Postal Service). I don't think it would happen with Staples, but you never know which idiot is going to pick up the phone on the other end.

    As stated so clearly in the previous posts, Good luck!
  5. Thanks for the replies.

    So far Staples has been helpful. They just asked my friend to get estimates for the repairs and submit them. So far, so good. I let everyone know if they pay. After all, a surge protector is one thing; a surge protector that pays for repairs when you get a surge is quite another.

    As far as an off-brand, I agree, most people will never see a dime.
  6. I wound up filing a home owner's insurance claim. The policy had a $500.00 deductible which kind of hurt but the insurance company paid for replacing everything above and beyond the $500.00 deductible.
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