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.”

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