RT-Mart fined by judge for selling explosive Heran TVs

Hsinchu District judge in Taiwan rule RT-Mart is liable for selling explosive Heran TVs in 2015

RT-Mart store in Neihu District in Taipei City, Taiwan.

RT-Mart store in Neihu District in Taipei City, Taiwan. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)Hsinchu District Court judges ruled recently that one of the nation's largest retailers, RT-Mart (大潤發), and big Taiwanese TV manufacturer HERAN (禾聯) need to compensate a house owner surnamed Wei (魏) NT$529,525 (US$17,452) for damages incurred from an exploding TV made by HERAN, reported Apple Daily.

The house owner surnamed Wei demanded a total compensation of NT$1.08 million from the TV manufacturer HERAN, retailer RT-Mart and her tenant Huang.

RT-Mart objected the judge's ruling, stating they should not be held responsible for the fire caused by HERAN's hazardous TV.

The ruling can still be appealed.

Wei's tenant Huang purchased a defective 42-inch HERAN LCD TV with the serial number HD-42DC32 on May 3, 2015 from RT-Mart's branch in Hsinchu County.

TV images soon became blurry on May 12, 2017, and Huang quickly shutdown the device and called RT-Mart to schedule repairs.

However, he forgot to unplug the TV power cable, and a few hours later white smoke started to rise from the cables. A TV explosion ensued that burned down the rented house, but fortunately no one was injured in the process.

Judges held the missing tenant surnamed Huang responsible in the case, and fined him NT$400,000 for not removing the TV power supply after calling RT-Mart. Huang did not appear in court, and Wei has not been able to contact him.

Hsinchu County Fire Department identified the source of the fire was the top of a short cabinet in the living room, and notified the cause of fire was electrical. The department did not rule out LCD TV as the main cause of fire at the time.

The judges based their decision on a Hsinchu County Fire Department report, which noted no other electronic appliances were around the short cabinet at the time, and Wei replaced and installed new electric cables in the house in 2012. Hence, cause of fire was caused by the HERAN TV, the judges ruled.

Wei noted this was not the first time that HERAN TVs exploded. At least two other netizens by the user names sallwr and ktpenga have made similar complaints on reputable Taiwanese consumer electronic forum Mobile01 in the past.

HERAN, which prides itself as Taiwan's greatest LCD TV supplier in terms of volume, previously claimed electric cables at Wei's house were outdated.

In the judges' verdict, HERAN TV products passed product quality inspection and registration spec requirements, but failed to offer safety test certifications.

The company could not guarantee its TVs were faultless, and must take compensation responsibility, ruled the judge.

RT-Mart also is liable in the case because they did not tell Huang to unplug the power cable when he reported the TV needed repairs.

Under Article 8 of the Consumer Protection Act, "for injuries and damages caused by goods or services provided, traders engaging in distributing and marketing goods shall be jointly and severally liable with those engaging in designing, producing or manufacturing.”

Headquartered in Taoyuan City, HERAN began as a LCD TV original equipment manufacturer in 2002, and launched its own TV brand two years later.

The Taiwanese company specializes in electric appliances including air conditioners, and has received Taiwan's Excellence Rewards from Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) for seven consecutive years.

The company products are available at major retailers nationwide, and it claims to have sold 250,000 TVs in 2016. According to the company statistics one out of every five TV consumer chose their brand over other competitors.

According to market insiders, HERAN's TVs are usually sold nearly NT$10,000 less than competing brands, which enabled it to grab large market shares in Taiwan.

For instance Chimei's (奇美) 55-inch ultra high definition (UHD) TV usually sells for NT$36,900 on online retail platform PChome, but the same spec HERAN TV usually sells for just NT$26,900.

HERAN and RT-Mart spokespersons could not be reached for further comments by Apple Daily reporters.