Samsung's Kafkaesque Refrigerator Executive Customer Service Runaround

Jason’s story about his Samsung refrigerator seems, for the first few paragraphs, to be a relatively mundane incident involving a customer who is (justifiably) annoyed when some relatively small features of his $2,700 refrigerator kept breaking, requiring repairs. But when the icemaker and the entire freezer began to fail, Jason’s story took a different turn. A repairman encouraged him to seek a replacement for the frequently failing fridge, which he did. Now his quest for a new fridge looks more like a part-time job, and Samsung’s executive customer service is beginning to look like … regular customer service.

Remarkably, however, this is a story involving Sears where Sears didn’t screw up.

I purchased a Samsung RFG297AARS french door refrigerator back on 3/31/09 from Sears in the amount of $2682.94. Shortly after delivery and set up, I noticed that a whole panel of the interior LED lights were not functioning. Once the Sears technician looked at the unit, he determined there was a faulty control panel and ordered me a new refrigerator.

Once I received the even exchange in 4/2009, it worked great until about 7/5/09 when I noticed the interior lining on the freezer door was starting to crack, thus not supporting a shelf it was attached to. Once again, Sears sent a repairman who told me they could fill the crack with an epoxy. Once he explained that it was a bright yellow substance and would be visible, I told him that was an unacceptable fix for such a costly refrigerator. Sears agreed to replace the freezer door.

Once they replaced the door, I started to notice that the top portion of the door (the plastic trim piece that runs the length of the door) was starting to scratch from opening and closing the freezer door. I called Sears once again the beginning of 6/2010 as the product was still under the 1 year manufacturers warranty and they once again sent out a tech to look at the door. From what the tech told me, another door would need to be ordered as they were unsure as to why it was scratching.

Around June 20, 2010, I noticed that the freezer was not working as all of the food was room temperature. The refrigerator was still cold however because they use separate cooling systems. Also, another issue that has been a problem is the ice/water dispenser on the door. It constantly drips when not in use, causing hard water stains to develop. I cannot use the ice dispenser without it going all over the floor. I addressed the issue with the technician and he told me it was normal. I told him that I disagreed.

So, once the tech looked at the freezer, he told me he had to replace the mains boards (2) and have them calibrated. On 7/2/10, the parts were received and installed. I had gone without a freezer the whole time, suffering approximately $200 in food loss. Once the freezer door was ordered and received, it was finally installed on 7/23/10. I once again spoke to the technician about the ongoing issue with the dispenser that refuses to keep dripping. I now have to leave a paper towel in the drip tray. Sears could care less.

Becoming more and more frustrated over the situation, I contacted Samsung America on 8/10/10 and spoke to R. He directed me to their executive customer relations department where I spoke to C. I explained to him the entire situation and asked what could be done. He took notes and told me he would call me back with an answer.
He assigned a case number to me at that time: [redacted]. When I heard back from C., he informed me that he would be sending out one of Samsung’s techs to look at the refrigerator. He also agreed to extend the warranty out another 90 days.

Once that tech arrived on 8/12/10, he informed me that he needed copies of the receipt as well as any work orders for prior repairs. Once I made him copies and he looked them over, he stated that it was his opinion that we should be either refunded or given an exchange for a new refrigerator due to the high number of repairs. He told me he would submit the documentation to Samsung on my behalf to start the process.

Approximately 2 weeks after the Samsung tech was at my home, I called him for status on the issue. Because he is not directly employed by Samsung, but contracted as an authorized tech, he told me he would call Samsung for me. Once he returned my call he told me that Samsung had my request for a refund as pending.

In the interim, I called the executive customer relations department (1-800-522-7341) on 8/24/10 and was advised by J. that I needed to fax a copy of the purchase receipt to him. Once I faxed over the receipt, I never heard anything back until 8/26/10. This time I received a message via email from a [different] J, who indicated they needed a better copy of my receipt. I tried to re-fax, scan and email and finally take a picture of the receipt with my camera phone and email it to them. I called the executive customer relations department again on 8/26/10 and this time spoke to K. who informed me she had received the receipt via email from me and that it was legible.

She told me she was going to submit my information to the refunds department and that it would take 24-48 hours to get a reply. She also informed me at that time that Samsung would need for me to cut off at least a foot of the power cord and remove the serial number decals from the refrigerator and mail both items to them(!)

I explained to her that I would not be cutting a power cord to mail to them without having something in writing that indicates I was going to receive a refund. And furthermore not having a refrigerator at all in the interim until they gave me my money back to buy a new refrigerator. She then told me they could place a hold on my credit card for the amount until the refund was processed and approved(!) I once again told her no, I wanted an email or letter indicating I was entitled to a full refund. She told me she would email me a pre paid return label via email along with the info regarding the refund. I have not received either.

I called back to the executive customer relations department on 8/30/10 and spoke to B. who informed me that the refund was rejected due to the wrong amount being submitted (it was off by $1). I asked for a supervisor at this point as I was beginning to see the pattern of lies that I was being told. Once I was transferred to the floor supervisor, A., she told me the same info that I was told before, and assured me that they were going to resubmit the request with the right amount. I explained that I found it odd that the wrong amount was entered but gave them the benefit of the doubt, however, the refund department surely has a copy of the receipt by now for their own reference. I was given the same line that it would be 24-48 hours before I would hear back from them.

I called back on 9/1/10 and spoke to D. who informed me that the refund was still showing as pending. I informed her that it had already been 48 hours and unacceptable that it was still pending. She informed me that she would email the refund department and request that they contact me regarding the issue. I then called back later in the afternoon to find out the status from the call earlier. I spoke to C. again who informed me that the refund was incorrect and was adjusted from $2462.40 to $2461.89 due to being pro-rated. That is only 51 cent difference!

I thought it was odd but he informed me that once again they resubmitted this amount to the refund department for approval. I also inquired about the 90 day warranty extension and he told me it did not appear I had one and that would have to be approved by a supervisor! I reminded him that he was the one that offered it to me from the beginning. He did not respond.

I waited until 9/2/10 to call back and this time I spoke to S. at 11:10 am. S. informed me that the refund was once again denied and that the amount was wrong again. I asked what amount they had for the refund and she told me it was submitted for the original amount of $2462.40 and that it was supposed to be for $2494.64. She told me she would resubmit the request to the refund department and I would hear something in the next 24-48 hours. S. also told me that she would email me a return label to return the power cord.

I called back at approx 12:05pm as I still had not received an email containing the return label. I spoke to A. who said she would put in a request for one to be sent to me. I called back again at 12:25 and spoke to F. who stated she would personally send me the email but the email was not accessible at the moment but she would keep trying throughout the day. At 2:15pm I called one more time and spoke to C. requesting the return label. Once I was placed on hold he came back on the line and told me that I would receive an email with the label once my refund was approved. I explained to him that all the other agents told me that to expedite the refund process I should mail in the cord ASAP. He stated that I would have to wait. I told him I did not believe anyone from their department as they have all told me a different story when I call.

I have also called Samsung America Corporate headquarters on 8/30/10 and left a message on G.’s voicemail, who identifies herself as the assistant to the president of Samsung.

All in all, I wanted to voice my complaint about this company and the run around and lies they tell you to pacify you. This has been one of the worst companies in my life to ever deal with and if my letter can save someone else from avoiding this brand than I did my job. They do not value their customers at all and feel as though you should be privileged to speak to them. I will avoid this company’s products at all costs including their cell phones, appliances, televisions, etc.

Maybe it’s the amount of money involved. Maybe there’s something else at work here. Jason has exhausted most of the Consumerist toolkit, short of taking the company to small claims court, and it is getting him nowhere.