Amazon’s first foray into smart TVs seems to have been one of Prime Day’s hottest sellers.
The ecommerce giant said its 55-inch Amazon Fire TV Edition — which is built by affordable TV brand Element but runs Amazon’s Prime-friendly Fire TV interface — was the beneficiary of “the best-selling TV deal in Amazon history.”
The TV typically goes for $US650, but was temporarily slashed to $US400 on Prime Day, a shopping event in which Amazon hypes up several exclusive discounts for subscribers of its Prime service.
When those purchases arrived at their new owners’ doorsteps, though, a number of shoppers appear to have received an unpleasant surprise: a broken TV set.
As of this writing, there are more than 30 verified user reviews listed on the Element Fire TV’s Amazon page that say the TV arrived broken in some form after being purchased on Prime Day. The majority of those say the TV came with a cracked screen. A handful also say their broken TV came in an undamaged box.
A reader who received one of these damaged units first alerted Business Insider to the curious reviews. We have since verified this person’s purchase — here’s what they say their model looked like:
Various other reviews paint a similar picture. “TV arrived completely smashed and broken,” said one review from user Justin M. “Started the return process within minutes of it arriving.”
“Joining in on the Prime Day disappointment with a crushed screen in an undamaged box,” said another review from user Brett. “Curious to see what the replacement looks like.”
The source of the problems is not clear. For what it’s worth, we ran the reviews through Fakespot and ReviewMeta, two sites that analyse Amazon user reviews for potential fakes — both gave passing grades.
All but a couple of the reviews concern the 55-inch model, which was the only one to see significant discounts on Prime Day. Element, whose TVs are manufactured by Chinese group TongFang Global, also sells the Fire TV Edition in 43-, 50-, and 65-inch models.
Amazon and Element acknowledged the damaged sets and said they are working to replace the affected units in a joint statement to Business Insider:
“We are aware that some Element TVs shipped to customers have arrived damaged. We have taken steps to resolve the issue for existing and future customers, and are in contact with affected customers in order to replace any damaged units.”
Amazon announced the new Fire TV-enabled sets at CES earlier this year, and started offering them via Element’s model in June. Element’s sister brand, Westinghouse, started selling Fire TV Edition sets earlier this month.
The Fire TV Edition series is seen as Amazon’s competitor to Roku’s popular line of Roku TVs, which similarly equip affordable TVs with another company’s streaming interface. Amazon’s software is geared much more toward Prime members, however, which makes the Fire TV Edition sets a unique fit for those shopping on Prime Day.
To be clear, various other user reviews have reported no issues with busted sets, and shipping snafus happen all the time. We’ve been testing an Element Fire TV Edition for review purposes for the past three weeks, and have generally found it to be a perfectly competent, if slightly overpriced, entry-level 4K TV.
But the number of similar complaints here can serve as a reminder that buying a cheaper product can come with its own set of risks, even if does have the backing of a big company like Amazon behind it. It also isn’t the best look for Amazon in its quest to get its TV software, which includes Alexa, in more living rooms.