My Problem with Samsung

This week I made a few tweets about Samsung and they were not flattering, but one can’t tell the whole story in 140 characters on Twitter, at least I can’t.

So a while back we broke down and bought a flat-panel tv. We had been using the one our wedding party bought us in November of 1996. The picture had been going, but we held out until the day that my daughters received the dvd from their dance recital and it was impossible to tell which girl they were on the screen.

I looked around, did some research, and went to the store. I felt Samsung was a good company that made a quality product and bought a 37″ LCD TV.

About a month ago we started having problems with it when it turned on. In short it wouldn’t, at least not right away. It would flicker on and off a few times and then stay on. As time wore on the process took longer and longer. Finally I called customer service and was told it could be the compacitors and if it was, the service call and replacement was free, but if it wasn’t I was responsible for everything.

I was also asked when I bought my TV, which I couldn’t recall. This ultimately led me to being utterly frustrated with SonyCard and Amex when I couldn’t get logged in to search statements, and then when I could I couldn’t go back to 2008 in both cases for different reasons.

So I ultimately went to the garage, dug through old statements and found that I had purchased the TV in July of 2008.

With this knowledge I contacted the independent contractor that Samsung had referred me to in the town next door. The person had told me it probably wasn’t the compacitors, but bring it in and they would look at it. I told them that Samsung had told me they would come to the house and if it weren’t the compacitors I would be able to get a quote prior to being on the hook for pay.

So we scheduled for the service rep to arrive after 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. The individual arrived at 4:00 and upon walking in and asking what was wrong replied it probably wasn’t the compacitors, before he even had the back off the TV.

He then asked for power to our sofa where the TV was resting facedown. I had to get an extention cord and as I went through the kitchen mouthed to my wife we were about to get ripped off.

I got an extention cord, plugged the TV in, and he set out to test.

I asked him about the compacitors and he said it wasn’t them.

I asked if he could replace them with new ones so we could test it, he told me there were 13 and he was only allowed to replace 2.

We discussed this for a bit. He told me they would explode and acid would be visible, or they’re good. He noted that mine were flat on top and looked good.  I pointed out two that were bulging, clearly rounded at the top. He said they’d last for six years like that.

So he started moving his sensor around and when he noticed I was actually looking at what he was doing and paying attention to the number, he said on the middle the reading was 33 and to the right it fluctuated, but I never saw a fluctuation.

At this point, I told him to replace the compacitors and lets see if it works. He told me there were 13 of them and he could only replace two. I called Samsung and started by asking if he could replace more than two, after being on hold and told they can only replace two compacitors, I asked for her supervisor.

There was no supervisor available, anywhere. No cell phone to make a three way call.

At that point I went ballistic, there is one heck of a customer service phone example available now. Stay with the script. Customer not on script, repeat last answer. Repeat last answer, repeat last answer, $%*#*@!!!!!!

It made sense to me, if there were customer service reps, there must be a manager or some kind of boss, if not, why take a phone call from the type of person I was quickly/had become? At first I was told the supervisor would give me the same answer of denial, and I suggested that eventually I’d get to a person that could say yes. Then I was told they were all gone for the day. Wasn’t buying it.

So I hung up on customer service and returned to the 3rd party contractor. He remained adamantly opposed to changing any capacitors and stayed with his belief that it was the $280.00 part plus the $106 service call and $80 mininum labor. Did I mention it was a 37″ TV?

We talked about a disposable economy, how TV’s today suck, how I won’t get more than 3 years from a TV, how they are all made by a single company no matter how much I pay…

Then his phone rang and his boss authorized him to cut the cost of the service fee to cost plus labor.

I said no, at the end of the day, he spent two hours telling me how much better it would be to have them service my TV than to get a new one or to actually test the campacitor problem. Wow.

Oh yeah, I was also told that Samsung paid $80 for the visit and replacement of 2 compacitors if it was a compacitor issue, nothing otherwise.

Then I was told we only take cash or check, despite being on the phone with them two or three times and this was never mentioned.

So Samsung, what I’d like to know is simply this – for all the parties you contract with, what is the percentage of referrals to reimbursements for these guys compared to nationwide? I’ve reached out to you by phone and Twitter, you know how to reach me. It’s your turn to do some work. You’ve wasted a ton of my time and money.

[update: 7:31am 8/26/11: I neglected to mention that the 3rd party contractor actually told me that they have had instances where a person gave them the TV for repair, they contacted Samsung, and Samsung in turn reimbursed the person in full, so it was best I have them repair it.

Update: 8/26/11 – the Twitter customer team @samsungsupport got back to me today, I apologized: “my apologies to the service rep, mostly lost my mind at the absurdity of the situation” they investigated,  and offered a solution that was acceptable and mostly what I had requested in the first place. I’m still out the fee for the service call, but didn’t expect to see that come back.]

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