Are Kogan TVs any good? Here’s how it all went wrong for me.

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Recently I found myself in the market for a new TV. After moving to a new house, my old 42″ LG LCD panel was looking smaller than ever – or perhaps my eyes simply aren’t as good as they used to be? Whatever. I felt like there was a hole in my life and the only thing that could fill it would be a brand new flatscreen – something in the order of 55-inches or bigger.

Like other people who have found themselves in this situation, I first jumped online and trawled the websites of all the local retailers. I knew exactly what I wanted – a 55″ LED LCD panel which could display 4K at 60Hz, plus a minimum of 4 HDMI inputs and DVR capabilities via a memory stick made up my short list. After seeing a mate’s Smart TV in action, I decided to forgo those capabilities and instead rely on my existing Playstation 4 and Google Chromecast to satisfy my video streaming needs. A quick price check on models meeting my needs suggested that I’d be up for a minimum of AU$1,200, moving up on a sliding scale beyond AU$2,000. And then the Aussie online retailer Kogan.com got my attention.

Kogan were offering their self-branded 55-inch TVs (KALED55UHDYA) built using a 4K Samsung LED panel for just $789. After reading a few favourable reviews, I took the plunge and placed my order online. But was the deal too good to be true? Well, I found out just 5 days later when it arrived on my doorstep on October 2nd.

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First impressions were good. The TV was packed well and looked fantastic – with a nice slimline black bezel surrounding the huge 55-inch screen. After hanging it on my wall-mount, I marvelled at how perfectly sized it was for the room and the distance at which I was sitting… but something was wrong. By default, the screen looked overly bright – colours were washed out and blacks were far from black. Luckily, I was able to rectify these issues after I played with the image brightness, contrast and gamma settings for 5 – 10 minutes. But unfortunately it wouldn’t last…

Kogan, we have a problem…

Unfortunately for me, when I powered on my brand new TV the very next day I was greeted once again by a very washed out looking display. After flipping through the display settings, I noticed that the adjustments I had entered the previous day had all been forgotten, and the TV had returned to the default. Thinking nothing of it, I quickly adjusted the display back to where I liked it and continued enjoying my brand new TV… until the next time I turned it on. Yup, it forgot my settings… again.

At this point, I began to regret the decision I made of buying something as large as a TV online. If I’d of purchased it from a local retailer, I could have returned it to the store and either exchanged it for a new one or obtained a refund – but with Kogan you’re sort of screwed in this regard.

I called Kogan’s support number and spoke to one of their service representatives, who claimed they would send me new firmware which would fix the issue. Great! I felt so relieved as I downloaded the file and copied it onto a USB so I could load it onto the TV. A few restarts later and I confirmed that the new firmware had indeed fixed the problem – an awesome result. But unfortunately for me, Kogan’s new firmware may have fixed my existing problem, but at the expense of creating a brand new one.

While my TV was now remembering the custom display settings I had entered, the Backlight brightness setting was now working incorrectly. The Backlight setting is a sliding scale from 1 – 10 which affects how bright the screen illuminates, with 8 being the default I left it at. But while the Backlight may have been set to 8, every time I turned the TV on the screen was incredibly dull – the equivalent to having the Backlight set to 1.

Confusing? I know – so I recorded a quick video above so I could explain to Kogan exactly what was going on. While the auto-exposure setting on the camera fails to convey the difference in brightness fully, you can still clearly see what is going on. The TV would turn on with low Backlight brightness, and any adjustment of the Backlight setting would force the brightness to jump back to where it should have been in the first place.

Kogan’s support team had no way to resolve the issue, and suggested that I return the TV to them for inspection. At that point, the question going through my mind was “Can I live with this problem for the rest of this TV’s lifespan (5 years?) or do I send it back to Kogan for repair, which at the very least would take a few weeks?”

After mulling over it for a week, I had to chose the latter.

And so the long wait begins

The danger with buying from an online retailer like Kogan is that generally the cost to return a faulty item is the buyer’s responsibility. Luckily for me, Kogan organised a courier to collect the TV on October 18th at no cost – which was a bonus I guess. It would have cost a bomb to freight something that large from Brisbane to Melbourne.

Kogan received the TV on October 24th, and suggested that they’d need up to 14 working days to rectify the problem. Once you take weekends out of the equation, it meant I was going to be without a TV for almost 3 weeks – and that doesn’t include the 4 or 5 days required to freight it back to my house when they’re done with it. So make that a month.

To make matters worse, Kogan’s 14 working day claim meant they should have fixed my TV by November 10th… which is today. But surprise surpise, I contacted them and the response was “the new firmware isn’t ready yet“, and that maybe next week it will be. This boggled my mind, and to me there is only one way I can summarise this situation, and that is:

Kogan’s returns policy ensures you’re treated like a second rate citizen

I mean in what other retail environment would this sort of outcome be acceptable? Imagine buying a brand new iPhone 7 from Apple’s online store, only to discover you received a faulty handset when it arrived on your doorstep a few days later. So long as you returned it to Apple within 14 days, they’d immediately offer you a brand new replacement phone or even a full refund should you be that dissatisfied with your experience. But with Kogan, there’s no such luck. They’ve already got your money, and you’re left waiting like a fool for weeks on end while they attempt to repair the bloody thing. No brand new replacement. No easy fix to make the customer happy.

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So, would I recommend Kogan.com?

After reading the above, what do you think? Absolutely not.

While their are significant savings to be had on items such as flatscreen TVs, my overall experience thus far means that in hindsight I would have much rather paid a little bit extra and purchased a new TV from one of the many retailers in my local area. I simply don’t have any faith left in Kogan, and I fully expect that the TV will still have an issue of some kind when it eventually turns up on my doorstep again – who knows when.

Once the TV is returned I’ll update this article with the result, but for now, it’s back to my old 42-inch LG TV. *sigh*

Thanks a lot Kogan.

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