Monday, December 28, 2009

The Samsung Saga (Part 3)

I received a call on December 23rd from Samsung’s exchange department directly. I was pleased to hear that rather than going through yet another “customer representative” I would be able to talk with someone associated with the actual exchange department (well, hopefully). He proceeded to tell me that the could offer an LN46B550 for a $500 out-of-warranty exchange fee. I tried to keep my composure over the phone as I calmly explained that was exactly what Samsung offered back in September and October and I was trying to explain – the very fact that the TV was in warranty and the original problem was never resolved – that during the long repair process it became out of warranty. He asked to place me on hold for a few minutes to review the case after I made one last ditch effort to explain this to him. Upon coming back from hold, he informed me that I would indeed be eligible for the exchange and that they could waive the fee in light of the repair history. He asked a few questions regarding the delays in between repairs (quite frankly, most of those delays were on Samsung’s side!) but the largest gap was from advice that I should be able to consistently duplicate the issue. Although I have video (linked) of this recently, the day I recorded it I still couldn’t duplicate it. The exchange guy said he didn’t need the video and I’d be getting a call in 7-14 business days from the freight company to have the TV exchanged. Since I have no warranty, the new TV will come with a 90 day limited warranty.

I suppose it is better than nothing, but I have to wonder if I’ll truly be happy with a TV that is 4” smaller and likely consumes a great deal more power. On the other hand, I can hope that the LCD internal components and lamp will last longer than the DLP lamp / color wheel. I wonder if I should have asked for a few free bulbs and color wheel instead.

It is a shame they didn’t spend a bit more time to fix it I guess, considering that they already corrected 50% of the problem (originally, turning off on a digital channel would prevent you from tuning it when turning it on again. They fixed this with a firmware update).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Samsung Saga Continues (Part 2)

About 6 hours after I posted my blog last week I received a call from the local authorized repair shop. These are the same folks that treated me well in the past. After explaining the situation to them, they said they’d give me a call back. The next day I missed the call, but they left a message explaining that they still only have a main board with the same firmware as the last board they installed, so they’d be contacting Samsung for further guidance, or to perhaps have the set replaced. Where have I heard that before?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Losing Faith in Samsung

Although a company as colossal as Samsung may not “feel the pinch” if they lose me as a customer, I do like to think that in my own little world that I do have an impact. Truth be told, it actually might be an impact when you consider what I’ve done.

Since acquiring my HLT-5075S TV from Best Buy two years ago (a fiasco in and of itself), I’ve had an ongoing issue with the TV. At first, I was surprised to see that the unit itself would not tune digital channels if it was turned on after being left on a digital channel. To remedy the problem, you had to turn the TV off on an analog channel, then switch back to a digital channel after nearly 1 minute of “warm up” once the TV was on. Getting this resolved was a big boon, but the problem persisted when turning the TV on when left off on component or HDMI inputs even after 3 visits from the repair tech, Steve. This wasn’t a big deal to me and it seemed to happen intermittently. I went along for a few months waiting for it to bug me before calling Samsung back. This, apparently, was a mistake.

You see, when I got my Media center PC hooked up via HDMI, the problem occurred more frequently when our TV tuner was in use and I wanted to switch to the TV’s internal tuner so we could record shows and watch one at the same time. It isn’t an unreasonable request – after all, the TV was sold with a ClearQAM/ATSC digital tuner. Upon calling Samsung back for a repair, they sent their local repair affiliate out again. Steve showed up, motherboard in hand with the exact same firmware as the current board. Surprise surprise, the problem still occurs. This was, however, a few days before my warranty was set to expire.

I called Steve and he escalated it to Samsung. Sometime in April, I received a call from someone who said they were a Samsung engineer and need more information to resolve the problem. I described the problem and was very hopeful for a fix. After nearly a month and a half, I called back and explained the situation to the Samsung tech. She was very surprised that this issue occurred for so long and rather than send out another technician she was going to have it escalated to “Executive Customer Service” so my TV would be exchanged. I was very pleased to hear this. Little did I know, ECR would become a pain in my life for the next 5 months.

The first call to ECR seemed to go well – I spoke with an agent, they concurred, and said they’d set up an exchange for a TV of equal size (50”) for no cost. They said it would take a few days for it to process then someone would contact me. A few weeks passed then I called back, and they said they didn’t know what happened and that apparently they went to a new system and it might have gotten hitched up like that so they resubmitted it. Minor hitch, I guess. I’d receive a call back in 14 business days or less.

14 business days came and went and I called back again, now frustrated that I’m not even getting called back and each time I call I need to re-explain the situation. The total time per call is between 20-30 minutes including hold time while they set up the various case numbers. Again, a few more calls went by. Mid-September I was told that I had been authorized for an exchange for an LN46B550, a 2009 model 46” LCD for an “out of warranty” exchange of about $500. I told the person that this was unacceptable due to what the previous person had explained. Not only was this TV smaller, it was $500 and it was an LCD with much higher power draw than my current TV so it would cost a lot more to run. The person became frustrated with me and I had to get back to work so I said I’d wait for the exchange people to contact me. Spoiler alert: They never did.

On October 7th, 2009 I called back and spoke with “Liz”. Pretty early on in the conversation I asked for a supervisor after explaining that I wasn’t receiving callbacks and was becoming very annoyed. I was on hold for 11 minutes while Liz tried to “track down a supervisor” before she came back and said she spoke with one (really?) and that she’d set up a “case review” so someone could look at my case. After it was completed, someone would contact me.

On November 16th, 2009 I called back to inquire about the status of the case review. I was told by “Craig” that the case review was completed on October 7th and that the original case manager was overruled by exchange department because my TV was out of warranty. I tried explaining to him that my warranty was in fact valid, then he proceeded to say that they had extended it. The warranty wasn’t extended for a repair, ever. When I purchased the TV, I was told to go online to register the TV for a “free 3 month warranty extension” that apparently screwed me for this repair. I got a bit heated with “Craig” for which I apologized, when I was attempting to explain that the original problem was never fixed and he said he couldn’t extend the warranty a second time when I suggested that instead of an exchange. Before hanging up, Craig said that he would try – if I’d hold – to extend the warranty again. Craig said he’d get that set up for this “one last repair” and that he’d give me a call back within the next 15 minutes.

That was at 12:30. It is 1:51.

Samsung, know here and well that your outsourced customer support has cost you this customer. I called your reps from a Samsung phone, staring at my Samsung HT-DB600 home heather system below my Samsung HL67A750 TV in regard to my Samsung HLT-5075S TV. I’m personally responsible for the sale of another HL61A750 and an LN46B550 to other friends and family. While it may not be much in the grand scheme of things, know that my crusade doesn’t end here and now with this blog post. My voice will be heard, and you’d better bet that as far as my reach extends, that voice will be saying “Do not buy Samsung, and here is why.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ah, crap. Literally.

This blog began with me talking about my move in experience with my septic fiasco.  Well, all things come full circle.  You see, it is 2 years 6 months since we bought the home so I figured I should have my tank checked.  Sure enough, it was time.  I uncovered the lids myself, and when the guy showed up he inspected the tank as he pumped it.  Unfortunately, there were major, major problems.  Problems that, upon reviewing my original blog post, make me wonder how the heck this thing passed O&M in 2006.    As I know now, there was supposed to be baffle on the pipe below...and the inlet should be, you know, connected.  What in the world happened?!

I'm going to do my best to see if there is any sort of action that can be taken to have this bill be sent to the septic company who passed this O&M in 2006!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Serves them right: Die, CircuitCity, Die!

Sorry employees, but your company sucked.  And those of you who aided in those actions ought be punished too.

Yes, I am still bitter about the Circuit City incident.  We've never put a penny on our card that we got for that purchase and never will.  

On a lighter note, this evening I ordered an HL67A750 from Vanns.com.  We'll see how that buying experience goes.  The lamp on our HL-T5075s is right around its usable life after only a year.  I checked the lamp hours and was shocked - we watch a lot of TV apparently.  At any rate, the warranty on it will expire in March, so I'll get a new bulb installed before then, then put that TV in the bedroom.  This should save us a few hundred in the long run since the bedroom doesn't see a ton of usage.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CES SiliconDust: HDHomeRun with Cablecard?

I was over at The Green Button and saw a video blog post from CES.  I decided to check it out since there was mention of SiliconDust, and I am considering purchasing an HDHomeRun to augment my Hauppauge 2250 for my HTPC.

The SiliconDust employee mentioned that a CableLabs representitive inquired as to why they weren't certified, and said that it was rather simple to become certified (for a fee, I am sure).  I got a little giddy when I thought of a possibility of a HDHomeRun-type device (network attached tuners) that are CableCard ready.  It could finally set non-OEM users free from the clutches of the likes of Comcast and other cable providers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Adventures with Vista Media Center

Over the past year or so I've slowly been building up our entertainment equipment - starting with the HLT5075s that we purchased from BestBuy last year.  Since then, I've set up a Home Theater PC with a Blu-Ray drive, and begun using Vista Media Center.  It is very slick.  Most recently, we added a Hauppauge 2250 TV tuner to the machine as well as a Linksys DMA2200.

Overall I have been pretty pleased, although I was very miffed when it came out that Comcast announced that they were killing their analog service!  I bought the 2250 specifically for that feature, and would have just picked up 2 clear QAM tuners for $30 less had I known.

At any rate, we've been rather pleased to date.  Media Center has recorded shows like clockwork and it has been fantastic.  My wife picked it up no problem, so bonus points there.

Tonight, however, was a different story.  One show she had set to record was receiving no video signal, so it didn't record for her.  This was very disappointing as it was a January premiere she had been waiting since mid-November to see.  Luckily I was able to acquire the show quickly from another source so she could view it.  Still, it wasn't pleasant to experience it, especially since the source appeared fine when I viewed the same channel when she reported the problem.