Vizio Fudges Refresh Rates, Consumers Say

     (CN) – Leading U.S. electronics manufacturer Vizio inflates LCD sales figures by lying about its how quickly its screens refresh images, a class of consumers claim in court.
     Founded in 2002, the privately held company ranks No. 1 in unit share of U.S. sound-bar sales and No. 2 in smart HDTVs, according to an L.A. Biz report.
     With more than $3.1 billion in net sales last year, Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio claims it has sold more than 65 million products in more than 8,000 retail stores across the country.
     Leonard Mastrandrea is the lead plaintiff in the fraud case filed against Vizio on Monday in Orange County Superior Court. The 16-page complaint was the Top Download at Courthouse News on Wednesday and Thursday.
     At issue in the case are refresh rates Vizio advertises for how quickly its liquid-crystal display screens display multiple still images in rapid succession.
     A television with a refresh rate of 60 Hz displays 60 unique images per second on the screen, and Mastrandrea says this specification is a “key component of pricing, just like resolution and screen size.”
     “For the last several years, Vizio has systematically misrepresented the refresh rate of certain of its LCD televisions by overstating, falsifying, and obfuscating their actual refresh rates to improve sales,” the complaint states.
     Mastrandrea says Sam’s Club delivered the 60-inch Vizio E600i-B3 television he bought on May 28, 2015, to his home in Port Hueneme. Sam’s Club is not a party to the complaint.
     Vizio advertised the television as having a 120 Hz refresh rate, but the actual refresh rate is 60Hz, Mastrandrea says.
     Though some consumers do not pay attention to refresh-rate technology, technology writers for CNET and HDGuru have been publishing articles warning consumers about misleading advertising, according to the complaint.
     “These articles detail the deceptive practices identified in this complaint and the inaccuracy of the refresh rate information Vizio is providing consumers,” the 16-page complaint states. “By engaging in … misleading and dishonest conduct, defendant is precluding consumers from making apples to apples comparisons … Vizio engages in this confusing and manipulative marketing scheme to trick consumers into purchasing LCD televisions with the belief that they are receiving higher refresh rates than they actually are.”
     Mastrandrea’s attorney, Deborah Dixon with Gomez Trial Attorneys in San Diego, said this is not the first time Vizio has been sued for misrepresenting its refresh rates.
     “We don’t know how long they have been misrepresenting their refresh rates because we are only in the discovery phase, but we do know that when our client purchased the television, that at least at that time it was false advertising,” Dixon said in an interview. “Our office is handling another lawsuit about the same issue against Vizio, and we believe it is the same model television. Describing it the way they do, it leads consumers to purchase this model over another’s.”
     That lawsuit is still in the pleading stage, Dixon added.
     Attorneys for Vizio could not be reached for comment.
     Mastrandrea seeks damages from Vizio for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty and other claims.
     The complaint comes on the heels of an initial public offering Vizio filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reportedly part of the company’s bid to raise $172.5 million.

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