This morning I've got a $1,000 piece of useless high-tech hardware hanging over my fireplace at home in Oregon. It used to be a fabulous 50-inch Samsung SmartHub television.
Today I'll tell you a story about what's happened, because it illuminates something critically important when it comes to your money – why you won't see me recommend a single retail tech stock – save two.
That may strike you as odd given how often we've spoken about Technology as one of the six Unstoppable Trends we're following, but there's a reason.
Beginning with an experience that may hit close to home for you, too… and fortunately is going to point us to the only two retail tech stocks I recommend as a "buy."
Corporate Bureaucracies Can Be Just as Stifling as Government Ones
Like most families, we like to get in some together time by watching great movies, which look all the better on a big-screen TV. Needless to say, my two sons love the big screen for video games, too.
But the real value for us – and the reason we purchased this particular television – was something Samsung calls the "SmartHub."
It's intended to be a gateway to all your media content from pictures to videos, the Internet, YouTube, Netflix, and more. Samsung wants the SmartHub to be an integral part of our online life.
In reality, the SmartHub is a colossal pain in the rear end now that it's stopped working.
That's because the SmartHub is apparently designed in such a way that it has to talk to Samsung's central servers before any application being run on it will work. If the TV cannot connect, it mistakenly assumes that the set's Internet connection is down and puts the kibosh on any app trying to use the web.
No big deal… That's what comprehensive warranties are for, right?
I wish I were less cynical at times. Then I wouldn't have been surprised when a call center representative named Calvin haughtily told me in heavily accented English across a static-filled line, which made me think he was in an offshore call center, that the software was not covered. Mind you, this is despite the fact that the Samsung SmartHub serves as the TV's operating system and the TV cannot run without it.
Nor was I surprised to hit the Internet and learn that Samsung has known about the SmartHub issue for years, yet apparently refuses to do anything about it or provide a comprehensive fix. Sometimes it's apparently a series of bad boards in the TV, while other times it's a software glitch.
I don't know for sure, though, because I cannot get anybody to examine the TV.
I called Samsung's customer service and was told that I had to go through the warranty company because my TV was 1.5 years old.
I tried calling Mr. Gregory Lee, President of Samsung Electronics North America, for a comment related to this story, but was told by company operators that "he doesn't take calls," a fact that is stupefying to me given his position as head of a customer-focused company. That's too bad because I would like to hear Samsung's side of the story.
My last stop was Video Only, the prominent Northwest chain of retailers where we bought our TV. They were helpful but could not repair the TV set themselves. Instead, they referred me to the repair shop team that would… but only after the warranty company issued a claim, which, according to Calvin, they weren't going to do.
About the Author
Keith Fitz-Gerald has been the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Morning team since 2007. He's a seasoned market analyst with decades of experience, and a highly accurate track record. Keith regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand. In addition to heading The Money Map Report, Keith runs High Velocity Profits, which aims to get in, target gains, and get out clean. In his weekly Total Wealth, Keith has broken down his 30-plus years of success into three parts: Trends, Risk Assessment, and Tactics – meaning the exact techniques for making money. Sign up is free at totalwealthresearch.com.