When Mike had a problem with his lovely Ultrabook’s trackpad, there was no reason to fret: it was under warranty. He shipped it off to Samsung’s repair depot and waited for the return of his freshly repaired computer. He didn’t know that he was actually doing the opposite: that he was sending his notebook to Samsung’s top-secret anti-repair facility, where your devices somehow emerge more broken than they were in the first place.
I bought a Samsung Series 5 ultrabook in February from Amazon. When the right speaker stopped working in May, I thought I would be okay and just live with it. However, when the trackpad stopped responding to any input, I knew it was time to start troubleshooting.
I work in IT so I was able to do all the basics – uninstall/reinstall drivers, test external mice, play around with sensitivity, etc. When I called 1-800-SAMSUNG the rep on the phone at least didn’t make me jump through hoops. He set up a repair at a depot, and while it was about 20 miles away, their hours didn’t jive with my work schedule. I sent the laptop in for service on August 6th.
On August 16, it came back, but no better for the wear. The sound and trackpad are fine, but whoever put it back together did so with a small divot pushing UP FROM THE INSIDE OF THE PALMREST. As in there was about a 1-cm raised pimple-like protrusion coming upwards. Moreover, the wireless network card was degraded to uselessness – I only got two bars when I was three feet from my router with clear line of sight (my wife was two rooms away and had four). I performed the usual troubleshooting, called Samsung back, and got a new ticket to send it back in, and I send it in on 8/17. On 8/20, the Samsung repair tracker shows that the laptop was received and service was again in progress.
Another week or so passes. Yesterday (8/28) it comes back. I open it up and push the power button – nothing. Okay, maybe it’s just fully discharged. I plug it in to AC power and instead of the usual orange charging light, I get a green light. Uh-oh.
Powering it on, it boots normally, but the battery indicator shows “no battery connected” and if I disconnect AC power… off it goes. Since it’s an ultrabook, the battery is sealed inside the unit
and it isn’t the kind of laptop that you can take apart without a service manual – which, of course, isn’t anywhere to be found online.
I called 1-800-SAMSUNG, gave them my ticket numbers, and requested that they advance-exchange the laptop: send me a new one, I send back the continually defective one. I’m given a transaction number and am sent to Executive Customer Relations. There, probably with a straight
face on the rep’s side that goes against the Kafkaesque situation, I’m told that their policy forbids any action on a defective laptop unless it’s evaluated by a Samsung tech… the same techs who made things less useful each time I’ve sent it in.
They can make no offers of a rental in the meantime or reimbursement for the cost of one, no offer to see what else can be done. I ask to speak to a manager, and after a few minutes, none are found and they ask my info for a call back the next day.
At noon the next day, rounding out a month without a laptop, I call back and am told again no supervisor is available. “They may be talking to other people or unable to assist,” I’m told.
“They’re very busy.” Not as busy as I’ve had to be, catching up on work due to lost time since my laptop is, well, not portable or usable anymore after each repair visit. It’s out of the timeframe
for me to file a chargeback on my credit card and Amazon doesn’t have any options to put pressure on Samsung.
I’ve got a draft of an EECB ready to go, but given the hugeness of Samsung, would it even be useful? Should I send to the execs in Korean or Western name order (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)? Should I send to both?
We checked our archives and don’t have any old e-mails to Samsung execs to verify, so we don’t know. The three-year-old address format on file with our friends at executivebomb.com says that the format is actually first initial, period, last name (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) Sometimes address formats change over time, so trial and error is needed for a successful e-mail to executives. Good luck.
UPDATE: Oddly, at the same time this post went up, Mike was clicking “send” on an update to us. He learned that taking his story to social media apparently rules out the possibility of a replacement from Samsung.
Spending my lunch hour going through the hoops with Executive Customer Relations, I spoke with [redcted] again who informed me that Samsung would have to continue repairing the laptop and any manager in her department would be discussing the same thing, I asked to escalate to another department. “Sir, this is an executive customer support group, and we operate with little to no supervision.” My request for a transfer to a manager, director, VP, or whoever is in charge were constantly spurned since “their policy is not to speak to customers.” Just like their warranty policy is to actually repair problems and not create new ones, right?
Someone is talking to me on their Facebook page and I’m hoping that’ll do something, but it gets better. Since I was talking with [redacted] at the same time as this Facebook person, I told [redacted] “Someone on your Facebook page is helping me out, I’m more than happy to speak to them” she then chimed in with “Sir, since you have elected to go to social media, we can now only offer you a repair and Samsung no longer can honor a replacement.” “So you’re refusing to honor something that is explicitly spelled out in your warranty?” “Sir, we can only offer a [repair].”
After I declared that I will not hang up the phone until I speak to someone at a managerial level in that department or whoever the department reports to, and holding for a minute, she said she would be ending the call by transferring me to the voice mail of a supervisor.
Chink in the armor: the voice mail transfer had the person’s name, [redacted]. I ran [guesses at his e-mail address] an email address validator and neither comes back. A quick google on the guy’s name reveals him to be a senior supervisor at Samsung ECR, but no contact details, just a trail of dissatisfied Samsung customers damning his name and – surprise, surprise – lack of returning phone calls.