Public Mediation

Angry privacy victim vs. Vizio

  • 20% of recovery offered for best resolution

Vizio is requiring customers to register their personal information in order to fully use the TV they paid for

S. T. vs. Vizio
39 Tesla, Irvine, California, 92618-4603, United States
Amount Involved: $1,500.00
Complaint(s): Bad business practices
    • Status: In Negotiation
      This claim has posted for public comment and negotiation. It will remain posted until resolved to the claimant's satisfaction. Suggest a resolution to help these parties reach a settlement.
      (seeking public comment)
    • View response from: Vizio
    • Claimant Seeks: 1 non-monetary items.
    • Claim #: 7609591
    • Amount Involved: 1,500.00
    • Filed On: May 03, 2021
    • Posted On: Jun 03, 2021
    • Complaint(s):
      • Bad business practices
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Statement of Claim
Claimant says:
"I aquired a new Vizio OLED 55-Hi SmartCast TV last Christmas. Within a month or so I could not get to the home screen anymore; it was blocked by a screen demanding that I scan a QR code and register my TV. I could bypass the screen only by hitting one of the dedicated buttons for Netflix, Prime, or Hulu. I finally gave in and tried to register; I was then REQUIRED to provide a valid email address, my phone number, name, zipcode, etc.
Furthermore, I could not talk to customer service without registering my TV and providing my email address so that they could look up my registration.
Under federal law, manufacturers are not even allowed to require customers to fill out warranty cards to use a warranty. See 16 CFR § 700.7 - Use of warranty registration cards.
Vizio is requiring its customers to register in order to use the product they bought and paid for. Once I did this and restarted the TV, the QR-coded screen disappeared and I could access the home screen again.
Articles about Vizio make it obvious why they are doing this. Due to the plummeting prices of TVs, Vizio is relying on more lucrative streaming-based advertising to fire up its growth. This is even more true given its dismal IPO performance. It therefore needs to know who its customers are and be able to market to them.
It's frustrating enough that I have to use another device to view PBS and HBO because Vizio will not provide an app. It's far worse to know that Vizio is pimping out my personal information.
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Exhibits View
Additional Communication Between Claimant and Vizio Hide
  • May 03, 2021, Claiming party added:
  • Screen that prevented me from seeing home screen

  • May 03, 2021, Claiming party added:
  • Registration form requiring email address, phone number, and name so that I could get to the home screen

  • May 14, 2021, Claiming party added:
  • Thank you for your response; I appreciate your willingness to check into this. I'll extend the response time by 10 days and add my phone number to a private message.

  • May 26, 2021, Claiming party added:
  • Thanks for your response. I'm not sure how requiring my email address to respond to a simple tech inquiry about installing apps is going to help if the call is dropped. I've had many companies request that I confirm my phone number "just in case the call is dropped," which at least makes sense, but literally none ever do call back if the call is dropped--it's enormously frustrating. I can't imagine that if your reps drop the call, they'll send an email instead of theoretically calling back. So yes, please do delete my information. I appreciate your ongoing investigation into these issues.

  • Aug 04, 2021, Claiming party added:
  • I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that Vizio is taking this tack. I was actually hopeful that I'd get a real response to the real problem when Vizio's counsel contacted me by phone. I did not expect them to completely avoid the issue and, in lawyerly fashion, just pretend that none of it ever happened. "Not its intended function"....well, then why DOES it function that way?

    I don't care about the cash I asked for; that was never the point. I'm relieved that my personal information has been removed from the system and I've completely stopped using Vizio's interface and built-in apps.

    The REAL issue is that in my opinion Vizio seems to be continuing the exploitation of its customers that the FTC nailed it for back in 2017.

    If anyone is interested, look up the FTC's post "What Vizio was doing behind the TV screen" or the WSJ article "Vizio Settles FTC Lawsuit For Snooping On TV Viewers."

    The best I can hope for is that Vizio has hastily changed its instructions to its service reps and disabled whatever it was that disabled my TV until I signed up for an account, now that they have been called on it.

What Claimant Wants Hide
1. Compensation: Not being able to use the TV I paid for without acceding to your demands May 18, 2021 $500.00
2. Payment due: My personal information that I should not have been required to give you May 18, 2021 $1,000.00
Just make me happy!
Claimant invites Vizio to make a fair offer to resolve this complaint.
Cash total : $1,500.00
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Respondent's Counteroffer Hide
Message from Vizio: Dear Ms. Treadwell,

I wanted to begin by thanking you once again for providing the information related to your claim and allowing us to thoroughly investigate the matter. Regarding the matter of the screen with the QR code not disappearing right away, what you experienced is not its intended function and we apologize for the inconvenience. I am glad, however, to know that you were able to quickly find a short workaround by using other features of the remote to circumnavigate the issue, and that everything is now working properly.

One of our primary missions as a company is to make high quality technology and content for our valued customers, and we strive to deliver those things, along with world class customer service. We also take our privacy and security obligations seriously.

In light of this, as you requested, we are promptly removing your information from our system. Our customer support agent requested certain information from you as part of our standard policy in order to expedite the call and to have your information on record in case the call was disconnected. The request of this information was in no way tied to the television’s warranty (we do not require our customers to register to activate or exercise a warranty under any circumstances).

Please accept VIZIO’s sincerest apologies for your inconvenience. My hope is that the prompt removal of your information from our system will conclude this matter.

Dennis Yeoh
VP, Deputy General Counsel
What By When How Much
1. Kindly see attached message Jun 17, 2021 N/A
Non-cash: 1 items
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  • Contributed Solution: by George Maxwell On 06-03-2021
    Exploitation of individuals' personal data should be reported and ended More...
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