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TV SET ON THE BLINK FAILS ON ALL CHANNELS

Q YOU ARE MY LAST resort before sinking major money into my 1-year-old television set.

We purchased this set at the end of August back in 1989. In the spring of 1990, a problem developed, preventing us from picking up any channel above Channel 22. The cable company says it's the television set (and, I had to pay them to tell me that). About a month ago, another problem developed. The television set doesn't even go on! Sometimes, the on-off button needs to be pushed 100 times (not an exaggeration) before it kicks in.

To top things off, the picture quality is becoming shabby. I think I've been stuck with a lemon! No warranties cover the period when the problems began. I don't think I should have to put all that money into a set that we just purchased a year ago. I can't find a number to find Zenith, anywhere. The store that sold us the set and their local service center are of no help.

Isn't there some kind of appliance "lemon law?"

-- S.L., Cheektowaga
A NO, NOT REALLY! But there hasn't been a current need for that kind of legislation (thank goodness) because the appliance industry in general has for many years adopted a policy of self-compliance, and a policy (in most cases) of common sense, in the handling of consumer complaints.

Keep in mind that much of that "common sense" was born of necessity rather than cooperation back in the '60s and '70s, when consumerism first became a force to be reckoned with, and "self-compliance" became a palatable alternative to new state and federal consumer-protection legislation.

Whatever the cause, the result has been that an "appliance lemon law", in the form you suggest, has never become necessary.

Getting on with this particular problem, we've heard from Bruce Schiemann, a customer service spokesman for Zenith in Glenview, Ill., who tells us, "First of all, we are sorry to hear that this customer did not know how to get in touch with us. Our address and phone numbers are printed on the back of the operating guide which accompanies each product.

"In any event, we would like to investigate her complaint to determine what, if any, corrective action may be appropriate. Accordingly, we have sent a copy of her correspondence to our regional distributor service manager for review.

"We have written to this consumer and advised her of our action. If it is difficult for us to reach her during our normal business hours, we have asked her to please contact our representative at Wittenberg Distributors Inc., 405 East Hiawatha Blvd., Syracuse, N.Y., 13208, at 1-800-347-3100, asking for Mr. Frank Piccolo or Thomas Kircher."

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