Evaluate stores for buying a TV-which wins?



America's biggest retailer has over 4,700 stores in the US, far more than any other retailer on this list. Chances are it's the most likely place for most of you to find a TV.


It's not a great place to look at a TV, though. There's marginal to no light control in the TV area. One store I visited had florescent lights right next to the screens, so it was impossible to tell any differences with all the reflections. TVs on the top shelf are not angled, so you can only see them off-axis (and therefore, can't judge their picture quality in any way). The video feed tends to be ads that don't show off detail or picture quality at all.

Walmart offers a Protection Plan extended warranty, via Allstate, that covers "mechanical and electrical failures from normal use." Assuming the issue is covered, it will "repair your item. If we can't repair it, we'll send you a replacement or reimburse you for one." It does not cover burn-in.

The return policy is 30 days.


Target, the anti-Walmart, has over 1,800 stores. Inside they're pretty similar to Walmarts, though if the ones in my area are any indication, they tend to be in slightly better shape.


TVs at Target. Note how the top row is tilted downwards. This gives you a slightly better idea how the TV looks, compared to straight vertical mounting or sitting on a high shelf.

Like Walmart, the TV section doesn't generally have light management, but the TVs on the upper row are usually angled so you can view them straight on. That's a big improvement over Walmart. There's not much info available about each TV, however.

Target offers extended warranties from SquareTrade (which is owned by Allstate). It says if it can't repair it within five days of receiving it, it'll refund the cost of the warranty. For TVs, it'll "send a repair provider to your house to fix it." It does not cover burn-in.

Costco, BJ's and Sam's Club

Though unrelated on the corporate side (Sam's is owned by Walmart, for instance), for our purposes they're quite similar. They're warehouse stores where you can get that 55-gallon drum of ketchup and that pallet of bean dip you need for watching football. They also sell TVs in their, combined, 1,300-plus stores.

Like the other locations we've discussed already, warehouse stores are terrible places to judge TVs. They're far too bright, with harsh overhead lighting. Usually the boxes for each TV will also be on display, however, so you can at least get some additional info. It'd be better to get the info on your phone, but in a pinch, the box is there with some highlights. On the other hand, to allow enough space below the TVs for the boxes, the TVs themselves are often much higher than you'd normally want to place them, so you're viewing them off-axis, which means some will look worse than they would if you could view them straight on.


Costco has a 90-day return policy on TVs. It also offers two years of tech support. Most impressively, it automatically increases the manufacturer's warranty to two years. If you use its credit card, Costco will bump that up an additional two years. For reference, TVs typically come with one year parts and labor, or in some cases, one year for parts and 90 days for labor.