Smoking near your TV voids warranty, says Panasonic

The company is refusing to repair an £800 set

Thomas Defty with the faulty television.

Panasonic is refusing to honour the warranty on a broken £800 television set - because the owners are smokers.

Thomas Defty, 53, and partner Denise Head, 60, bought the 42-inch HD LED TV in 2012, with money Ms Head was left by her mother. It came with a five-year guarantee.

However, the set later developed shadows on the screen and the couple returned it to the Seaham, Co Durham store where they had bought it. It was sent off to one of Panasonic's service centres, and the couple were told that the television would be repaired.

But after hearing nothing more for two weeks, Mr Defty called Panasonic - who told him that they weren't going to help.

"They said they wouldn't be fixing the TV because of nicotine smoke. It's disgraceful. They should be replacing the screen. It's wrong," he tells the Sunderland Echo.

"They said there was external damage, smoke damage and pressure marks."

Mr Defty says that he and Ms Head smoke about 20 cigarettes a day each, but with the windows open.

"I'm not buying another thing from Panasonic again, and we've told our friends and family not to either," he says. "We used to get everything from them, but not any more."

The couple have since bought a new television at a cost of £500.

Panasonic defends its decision by saying that smoke is 'an environmental cause of damage' and that only manufacturing faults are covered by the warranty.

"In order to cool the panel – the screen – the television injects air from its surrounding environment and this is passed through to the viewing panel," a spokesperson says.

"The panel is manufactured with many layers of diffusers; when the set is exposed to air that contains nicotine this is subsequently also passed through the television and to the panel, which can then cause damage to the picture quality."

The company may be on slightly shaky ground here, as smoking is still a relatively widespread habit, and isn't highlighted as an exemption in the warranty.

But it's not the only manufacturer to object to its customers smoking: Apple, for example, has on several occasions refused to repair devices if they contain cigarette smoke residue - on the grounds that this represents a 'biohazard' for its engineers.

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