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Why you should NOT buy Target’s TruTech brand

Here’s a rant/report on an experience I had with Target Stores that might prove helpful as you think about your interactions with customers, how you support them and what it does for a brand — and a huge caution if you ever considering buying Target’s consumer electronics brand, TruTech.

Before I get started some disclosure is necessary: my wife was once the audio buyer for Target and I was a manufacturer’s representative calling on her with Pioneer Electronics (no…I didn’t ask her out while she was a buyer but waited until she was promoted out of the area into a non-conflict of interest position…but I digress). So we both know this game well and I can only imagine what Joe SixPack thinks since alot of “Joe’s” seem to be having similar experiences.

In November of 2006, I purchased a Target brand TV/DVD combo for my first year college daughter (this Target “TruTech” model). It was cheap but more than sufficient for her needs. When plugging the batteries into the remote I remarked on how cheap it was and — having broken and lost many remotes in my day — was not terribly concerned since universal remotes are so easy to find and cheap to buy…

…unless you’re a major mass merchandiser that buys from multiple vendors that do not offer or publish their remote control codes and have one place to buy a replacement for nearly 17% of the retail price of the unit itself!

(Please note the updates at the bottom of the next page)

I couldn’t find the original manual (who of us with *any* geek street cred would keep a manual for a TV/DVD combo for God’s sake!) so didn’t have the customer service number. Turns out there are no codes available *and* Target has used multiple OEM vendors to make the TruTech branded consumer electronics. Therefore, no universal remotes work. I bought one figuring I’d solve the problem, and after a couple of hours of screwing around (and reading this and all of these on Google, for example), I ended up at Alco Electronics support (just one of the Target TruTech OEM vendors) who indicated that “LG or Goldstar codes might work”.

They didn’t nor could the universal remote find a compatible code in “seek” mode.

I finally reached out to Target customer support. The first guy was helpful and indicated Starlite Consumer Electronics had supplied these particular models (which I think is Funai Electronics in Hong Kong) though calling back later a second woman hung up on me which was disconcerting. The Starlite 800# call was next and I talked to a very curt woman who sternly proclaimed, “NO…we do NOT publish the codes and we’ve TOLD THEM IN HONG KONG what a problem this is but they haven’t done anything yet.

She indicated that — even though I could purchase one of a dozen or so universal remotes on a Target endcap for under the amount — she’d help me get a replacement remote for $30 and it would ship “sometime in the next couple of days and you will probably get it next week.

$30 for a cheesy and cheap plastic remote (which is why it broke in the first place) for a TV/DVD combo set that retails for $179?  It might ship in a couple of days and I might get it next week? WTF is THAT all about? In a day of great customer service, conversational marketing and precision in shipping information, this is baffling for a retailer the size of Target.

My wife calmly explained to me over lunch that writing a letter addressed to Target Corp and “video buyer” would probably be the best way to reach someone and indicate change was required. I thought I’d do this post first and reference it in the letter.

Here’s the deal: this is completely unacceptable and my time is too precious than to spend more than 10 minutes on this matter (which has been about the amount of time I’ve spent in the past replacing remotes for an untold number of devices). If it wasn’t for my little girl asking, “So Dad…have you been able to get me a remote yet?” I would’ve given up and bought another set (and for what I charge for consulting I could’ve bought 3 or 4 of the damn things and been done with it…but it’s the principle of the thing that gets me).

Furthermore, not either stocking replacement remotes or using the power, might and buying influence of Target Stores to DEMAND that the OEM manufacturer bend-over-backwards to support this TruTech brand by publishing codes or buying infrared (IR) chips from a mainstream vendor so universal remotes are supported is mystifying.

My faith was in the Target brand and the ethics expressed by my bride when she was buying audio (as well as other buyers I’ve known over the years). I expect nothing less of *anything* Target carries but I’ll *never* buy TruTech again and suggest you don’t either until such time that Target gets their act together.

UPDATE 10/25/08: Two
pieces of interesting news today: One is that I just checked, and there have been 37,086 pageviews of this post since it went live in May of 2007. The other is the most distressing as my daughter just informed me that the TV is making such a loud audio crackling noise (she hits it to make it stop) that she wants to make it go away (and we’ll buy her a new one for Christmas, no doubt, and there isn’t a snowballs-chance-in-Hell it’ll be a Trutech!).

So this means that THIS TV LASTED FOR ONE YEAR AND FIVE MONTHS since there’s no way it would be cost-effective to have it repaired.

UPDATE 12/25/07: I’ve been amazed at the hundreds of pageviews of this post every day between the day after Thanksgiving and today, Christmas day (over 16,000 total so far). I’ve received emails from people, you can read the comments, and see for yourself that there is a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction with the Trutech products. Please note that I cannot do anything myself but have, in fact, reached out via email to Kimberly Youngstrom (kyoungstrom@kaplowpr.com) who is the person sanctioned as responsible for public relations for the Target Owned Brands. Ms. Youngstrom is with Target’s public relations agency in New York, Kaplow PR. I’ve emailed twice, the last time on November 26th but there has been no response.

UPDATE 9/3/07: This post has been amazing in the HUGE number of people that have read it (especially during this back-to-school season) and, most troubling, how many have commented AND have sent me emails asking for help. Target has used at least two vendors to make electronics for the TruTech brand. I’ve tried to locate the electronics buyer for Target Stores responsible for this brand, but after four hours of trying I’ve given up. I’d recommend calling Target Customer Service (1.800.440.0680) and let them know of your displeasure and what you could and should do.

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

Comments

  1. Steve Borsch says:

    TruTech was what is called a “house brand” of Target Stores. That means that Target’s buyers went to Asia and “sourced” electronic products and placed the TruTech name on them. But here’s the thing: TARGET NO LONGER SELLS TRUTECH BRANDED PRODUCTS!

    This means that if you bought one—or have one sitting around unused in a box—Target won’t take it back. If it’s broken, they won’t service it nor is there any place (that I know of) where you can get it serviced.

    This is why I originally wrote this post: Target should be ashamed of themselves for selling such a crappy product line; an electronics line where it was impossible to obtain service; and then never saying one word to anyone about it online.

    This is why I do not buy *anything* from Target unless it’s a brand name I recognize…even their housewares and other stuff.

    Guess you’re out of luck.

  2. I have a Trutech lcd flat screen tv( and not a very good picture I might add) and the remote does not work and yes it is a crappy cheap plastic thing…there is no numbers on the remote and so I was told that maybe it was not for that tv that I purchased (I have had the tv hooked up to a extention and never needed a remote until now when we put it in a bedroom for our guest) I spoke to Target and that is what they told me…the remote has no numbers, no name on it nothing,!! So after reading this I guess the only option is to take a hammer to the thing and at least get a little satisfaction? Any suggestions? Thanks

  3. I have a Trutech TV/DVD player combo and don’t have any trouble with the remote, although most of my surfing is done with my cable remote. My problem arose when the DVD player suddenly started telling me that every DVD I tried to play was INVALID, even though I could play them fine on another player in another room. This was definitely not a good deal. Live and learn. Don’t buy TruTech.

  4. To whom it may concern,
    I had purchase a dual trutech (dvd connected to tv.) i moved to another area of New York and when the man from
    cablevision came to hook up my TV he could not get the code to work from there cable box, the code was not working at all, because the code I had in their already from my other remote that I had on Long island could not be changed and I would have to call Trutech on the phone and have them change the code.TOTALLY RIDICULOUS. I WILL NEVER BUY TRUTECH AGAIN.
    sorry for the caps, this is the way I feel about trutech.

  5. Steve Borsch says:

    Though you might be reacting to the commenters, I think you missed the point of my post.

  6. norma stites says:

    I have a wall mounted true tech, has been up for 3 years and Iv’e had no problems. just lucky I guess.

  7. My Trutech 19″ has been working since 2005. hahaha But the Funai people are nightmarish to deal with. At least they were when I repaired the occasional TV.

  8. We purchased two 7 inch DVD player/TV for big/small car trips at least 4 years ago – both still work perfectly. If their taken care of there may not be issues unless its just plain out defective from manufacturing or shipping. All brands have defaults no matter how reputable or inexpensive, I’ve bought a top of the line TV and the screen went out within 6 months. My brother had screen issues with two TV’s in a row with his expensive, name brand TV. Good thing we had insurance!

  9. anybody know how to get the dvd player working on my trutech tv it say wrong disc all the time never been able to get it to work. 2006 model

  10. Steve Borsch says:

    Sorry tadpole…no idea.

  11. This is for tadpole and his/her ‘wrong disc’ issue with a Truteh tv. I had the same problem with a Coby dvd player. Go into the menu for the dvd player and make sure it’s set for ‘Region 1′ (North America). Any dvd you buy in the US will only play on players set for Region 1. There are other regions for other parts of the world, but we are in Region 1. And some players will let you set the region only once or twice, so don’t play around with the setting.
    The only reason I’m on this website is that my parents are giving me their old Trutech tv/dvd combo today and Mom isn’t sure she has the correct remote for it. So it looks like I may have a potential problem, what with the comments from Steve Borsch.
    To Steve: thanks for all the info you’ve provided about Trutech. I wouldn’t buy electronics from Target anyway, but my parents did long ago, and they recently bought a new tv for their guest room, so I get the old one to replace my old CRT and component dvd player.

  12. Bought a standard true tech TV 4 yrs ago at Target worked fine till about a month ago now it won’t even turn on
    never had such a junky TV sorry to say have had other TVs for over 15 yrs and no problem at all.

  13. I purchased 2 19″ tv/dvd combo, 1 for my husband and I and one for our son about 5 or 6 years ago for Christmas. We have not had any issues with the tv’s, however both of our remotes recently stopped working. My son’s I think is from the abuse of a teenager throwing it around, ours just stopped working. We have a universal remote but I can’t get it to work, so now I am on a hunt for a new remote, because it is very annoying to go old school and physically change the channel or set the timer.

  14. I have lost the remote for my granddaughters 19″ TruTech TV/DVD. Is there a code for the universal remote??

  15. I bought my TruTech ZV450TT8 DVD & VCR combo recorder for $10.00 to use only as a player for my extensive VHS collection-which I’m converting to DVDs- something to do since retiring. I am an pld geek type and it took me forever (as in too long) to find that Funai universal remote codes turns the unit on/off and works the dvd player. I’M SO GLAD I DIDN’T BUY NEW-THANKS FOR THE POSTS!

  16. Dana Timmons says:

    I bought a trutech dvd for the car. Two screens. I’ve only owned it for 8 months and probably only had my kids use it for 14 or 15 times in that 8 months. Now it doesn’t work at all. It will not read the dvd’s, but will however play MP3 music…who gets this. I’m trying to find somewhere that I can contact to let trutech know what a horrible product this was and to let them know it no longer works after 8 months. I would like in return for trutech to send me a replacement unit. Do you think this may be possible.
    Signed a mother of two kids riding in the back seat of a car long distances with no dvd players.

  17. Can you remove the comment from: Steven P.q says: May 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm please?
    It is deliberately inflammatory just to get people to click on it and it is really a link to webpage called StopCrying.com – they are using this comment thread to advertise their site.
    Thanks, Ayn

  18. Are you aware of a site/link to download the manual for a Trutech PLV3119S1 LCD DVD PC Monitor? I am not able to use the Trutech as a monitor when connected to my laptop. Screen says no signal. Yes i used the function button to choose PC in.

  19. Steve Borsch says:

    Sorry…don’t think it’s even available online (did a quick search and found nothing). I’d call Target’s help line and hammer on them.

  20. Steve Borsch says:

    You know this is a blog and not a support forum, right? Also, this post is really old. Sorry, can’t help you.

  21. Looking on replacement parts for Tru Tech. I have the DVD players for the car and the cords broke. I can’t seem to find where to buy these parts.

    Thanks!

  22. I’v spent 2 days attempting to locate an owners manual for a Truetech T2000D. Truetech says they
    did not manufacture this model and did not know who did. Target could not give me anyone to
    contact, and seemed rather put out that I had called them. None of the websites who advertise
    that they have ALL manuals had none. Any suggestions ?? I noticed in the blog folks are looking for
    replacement remotes for the T2000D. Ebay has a pretty good supply.

    What a way to run a business. Truetech probably made lots of loot contracting to make and supply Target.
    Target probably used the cheap products as a loss leader during sales and by way of that made
    money. Here we are, lots of unsatisfied buyers who cannot get our problem with the product concluded.
    Beam me up Scotty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Code for trutech tv for direct tv is emerson 10178

  24. Have an old 19 or 21″ inch tv/dvd combo from trutech, the remote has started working on and off….sometimes it functions, sometimes nothing at all. Batteries switched in and out, new fresh batteries makes no difference. It can work for 1 minute then stop for the next X hours then work again randomly. Pain in the #*#, sometimes its not working for days even. Have tried universal remotes and nothing seems to work right…or if it does, only powering on and off works or the Volume +- only toggle mute on/off, etc. Not a huge deal but a bit of a pain in the butt, especially since its in a 7 year old’s room that is scared of the dark so we like to let him fall asleep watching Disney(he’s also still learning English) and have the timer set to turn the TV off. Can’t do that now, $20-30 for a new remote when I could probably find an entire TV on ebay or at goodwill or something for just slightly more anyway just doesn’t seem worth it.
    If anyone knows a code to get this old CRT style TV/DVD combo to work with comcast/xfinity cable box remotes please let me know! Or if theres any cheaper universal remote you got it to work with.

  25. What Josh said! Sometimes the remote works, sometimes not. The built in DVD player crapped out after 2 years of limited DVD watching. Totally frustrating that the remote will work to turn on the the TV, then suddenly, can’t mute the commercials.

    The remote didn’t have issues until this spring (I purchased it in summer of 2008), and I wonder if it is an radio interference issue?

    I’m glad I spent less than $200 on it, but in no way has it ever had *true* HD resolution and I think if I hadn’t been seduced by the price, I would have noticed it doesn’t even have an HDMI output….

  26. Have to chuckle finding this site while hunting for the remote codes on a 7″ Digital Labs LCD TV model DT191SA. BTW: I paid a bargain $13.15 incl. tax from a Kohl’s store on clearance. This was in Sept. of 2010 and it still works great including the original remote. All I wanted was the code so one of my satellite remotes could operate the TV. None of the guru sat. / remote / TV expert sites know of any codes, let alone of this Ping Pong connection of a company.

    The instructions has an address listed Starlite Consumer Electronics (USA) Inc. 280 Machlin Ct. City of Industry, CA 91789 Phone 1-866-387-2027 but no luck. If someone finds out the remote codes for this brand, please post them.

    Also, is the following the same connection or renamed company?
    Starlite International
    Fremont, California
    USA

    TEL
    510-790-2800

    FAX
    510-790-3400

    EMAIL

    info@starliteintl.com
    strint@aol.com

  27. Sorry to fester this thread but I found the following if it helps anyone later on.
    Go to http://www.griffininternational.com
    They’re based in Minn., and Starlite Consumer Electronics (USA) Inc., works out of that office. 1-612-344-4700 phone number

    Trutech remote codes
    529
    559
    584
    good luck

  28. Jema Mc Load says:

    I have been able to record with TruTech MP3 player and used it to record my English instructors lecture.

  29. Steve Borsch says:

    Gee…I don’t think any 3rd party remotes work with Trutech products…at least I never found one!

  30. Steve Borsch says:

    Sorry…no idea what might be wrong.

  31. Dave Meinert says:

    Trutech remote control numbers from Comcast.
    11723 and 12006 are the two TruTech codes, for use with the Comcast remote
    One of those 2 codes actually worked to let the Comcast Remote operate the TruTech TV.

    Years ago, I bought this same TruTech TV for my mother-in-law.

    Comcast switched from direct cable to a converter box.
    Their remote was designed to control the basic function of the TV. (on / off, volume), The set was supposed to remain on “channel 3” for the converter box to work.

    They provided a manual, which had these two “codes” listed for Trutech.
    One of them worked. TruTech 11723, 12066

    Then my mother-in-law had to move to assisted living. Back to the complicated remote of TruTech.
    I tried to use a large button remote, designed for the elderly.
    However it would NOT lock on to the TruTech TV.
    t works with our Panasonic TV, or another Toshiba. Or a Broksonic.
    But it won’t lock onto the TruTech. Now I am considering buying her a new TV, but bringing along the large button remote, to test the TV prior to purchase.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GR1YZ0?ie=UTF8&tag=theeldercar09-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002GR1YZ0

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