Samsung USA CEO Y.K. Kim Doesn't Want You To Know His E-Mail Is 'First Two Initials, Last Name At SEA.Samsung.com'

UPDATE: Samsung USA has had second thoughts about its CEO’s e-mail address being such a huge secret.

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UPDATE 2: Samsung has created an e-mail address that will allow people who have exhausted the regular customer service route to reach the company’s executive customer service team.

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Back in 2007, we first published our guide to the Executive E-mail Carpet Bomb, a tactic for people trapped in customer service mazes to try to get the attention of someone with actual authority. EECBs have aided countless readers who have received replies from the likes of the late Steve Jobs, Verizon Wireless’ Ivan Seidenberg, and Home Depot’s Frank Blake. They have also irritated any number of top executives, even when a customer’s grievance is legitimate and they have truly exhausted the normal customer service channels. One such annoyed executive appears to be Yangkyu “Y.K.” Kim, President and CEO of Samsung Electronics North America.

After a Consumerist reader used our tips to deduce Mr. Kim’s direct e-mail address, he shared that information in the comments section of our post about his problem. Evidently this information was useful to other people, too.

In spite of the fact that these stories show that someone in Mr. Kim’s office — if not Mr. Kim himself — actually wants to get these problems resolved, a Samsung PR rep has asked us to take down the information.

The following is from an e-mail to Consumerist from Samsung’s PR people:

In the comments following the piece, a reader MohnJadden included an email address for Samsung’s CEO in his post.

I’ve noticed that The Consumerist has been diligent about redacting names in your stories and posts, and was wondering if we could redact the said email and name from the post? We are not asking for anything else to be changed.

The Samsung rep fails to realize two things:
1. Yes, we do sometimes redact the names of people who are not public figures. For example, we are choosing not to share the name of the PR rep who e-mailed us the above request. However, we do not redact names of executives for global technology companies with millions of customers in the U.S. alone.

2. The e-mail address for Mr. Kim was posted in a comment by one of our readers. We do not feel it is our duty to purge the Internet of accurate information about a well-known public figure.

After all, this is not exactly top-secret insider information. First off, “First initial, middle initial, last name at companyname.com” is a pretty standard e-mail address format, right up there with “first name, last name” and “first initial, last name.”

The names of executive team members are listed right on the Samsung USA website. Consumer advocate and Friend of The Consumerist Chris Elliott lists a variant of Mr. Kim’s e-mail address on his site, along with a lot of other useful Samsung contact information.

Elliott tells Consumerist that he has yet to receive any sort of take-down notice from Samsung, but that he often gets such requests after posting an executive’s e-mail.

“Basically, these e-mail addresses are public information,” says Elliott. “Executives don’t — and shouldn’t — have the right to a ‘private’ address or phone number when they’re doing company business. That’s especially true if they are in charge of customer service. The only thing that keeping their address a secret does is allow them to hide behind their ‘customer service’ department.”

We politely informed Samsung that demanding a redaction of this information from our website would turn what had been a source of goodwill and positive PR into blotch on the company’s reputation. Samsung’s PR rep would not be dissuaded and informed us that they have “processes” that they prefer customers follow rather than email the CEO.

We are, of course, sympathetic to that argument, however, we’ve been doing this a long time and we know that sometimes these “processes” break down. It’s only at that time that it becomes appropriate for consumers to contact the CEO. If, during the course of our 7 years on the internet, we found that people without legitimate complaints abused this type of information, we would cease to endorse it as a method of redress. That has not been the case.

With that in mind, we recommend that Mr. Kim purchase some sort of mobile computing device that will allow him to quickly forward customer complaints to the appropriate executive customer service team at his organization. Perhaps he is familiar with a product that does this.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Tim says:

    Post the flack’s name and email. Do iiiiiiit.

    • raydeebug says:

      I’m pretty sure the person who sent the request was doing so at the behest of someone else. It was essentially a “Contact these people and get them to take YK Kim’s email off their site” and that person has to come here and make an honest attempt to keep his or her job.

      Sadly, the poor individual apparently does not have enough autonomy to go along with the friendly warning that it’s bad PR to insist on this kind of move; I hope he or she does not get in trouble for the failure.

  2. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “With that in mind, we recommend that Mr. Kim purchase some sort of mobile computing device that will allow him to quickly forward customer complaints to the appropriate executive customer service team at his organization. Perhaps he is familiar with a product that does this.”

    I think I could hack a Sega Genesis Nomad to do something like that…otherwise, nothing comes to mind…

  3. longfeltwant says:

    Ha!

  4. legion says:

    I know, I’m immature – but I can’t help snickering at a name pronounced “yank-you”. Seems completely legit. Is Samsung just trolling us all?

  5. atomix says:

    Streisand effect to become the Kim effect?

  6. Milquetoast says:

    Emails sent to these so-called “executive email addresses” are rarely, if ever, actually read by the executives themselves. So don’t think you’re actually “going all the way to the top” just because you managed to figure out an email address from someone’s name. Corporate formatting standards are very easy to figure out and it’s highly likely people from the outside will try to send something to it, so these mailboxes are generally monitored by communications or customer relations staff. For mid-level execs, an administrative assistant does all email filtering. It’s standard procedure at large companies to assign a relatively random and unguessable address for execs to use for everyday communications. You’re not actually getting on their nerves by bugging the execs, you’re getting on their nerves by contacting them through multiple channels simultaneously. Companies spend millions (or billions) on customer service operations and want as much as possible to keep all requests flowing through that channel.

    • Jaynor says:

      That email address could contain useful emails to the CEO though (contacts at potential clients,e tc) so they are generally actively monitored. This tactic works well in most cases. I prefer to include as many executive email addresses as I can deduce – this wastes the largest amount of executive assistant time addressing them and gives me a better chance of successfully getting my desired result.

  7. Sarek says:

    Yes, please take down our CEO’s name. People keep annoying him with emails about our horrible customer service. While we could fix our customer service, thereby eliminating the need for customers to bother the CEO, it’s much easier for us if you all just leave him alone. Move along, nothing to see here.

  8. ScandalMgr says:

    It is indeed unfortunate that Mr. Kim’s Quality and Customer Service departments are failing him SOOO badly that consumers have to take to contact him directly, but he is where the buck stops when front line CSR’s fail to do their jobs.

    Lets pretend that Samsung Electronics America is ISO 9001 (or TL9001) compliant for a imaginary exercise.

    If so, my recommendation as a QA Engineer would be for their registrar needs to revoke their ISO9001 certification due to non compliance with multiple customer satisfaction requirements.

    The PR flack who sent the Consumerist this info should be aware of this problem as well – that their actions should result in decertification, or they should withdraw their request.

    • ScandalMgr says:

      Oh, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an edit button please!

      Publicly, Samsung is a participant in, and committed to the quality and customer service requirements of TL9001, per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TL_9000.

      I cannot figure out who their registrar is, at the moment, but it cannot be too hard to find out. Once we (the consumerist hive) knows who their registrar is, we should all copy Samsung’s TL9000 registrar (Certifying agency) with our complaints.

      It goes without saying that this is a tool that the consumerist must also apply for other companies besides Samsung that require and obtain certification of best practices that meet some industry standard, because it DOES affect their bottom line.

      • StarKillerX says:

        As an ISO auditor I’m forced to ask, do you really think random people complaining about a companies ISO certification will have any effect?

        Beyond the fact that they could simply change the company they use for certification is the reality that the simple reality that registrars audits look at Samsungs actions, corrective actions and responses, and not if everyone who ends up with one of their products is satisfied.

        Oh sure they look at customer feedback, but only that which the company being audited provides, they don’t use anything from outside sources for various reasons, not the least of which they have no idea of the accuracy of the outside source.

        • StarKillerX says:

          BTW, a quick application of google-fu shows me over 80 registrars in the US alone.

        • ScandalMgr says:

          I’m preparing for an AS9100 audit here, and dang, you burst my bubble about what I thought might be a really great tool for consumerista’s.

          Coming from an internal VOC rep, sure, I would expect Samsung not to disclose anything. However, auditors may prepare by accessing OASIS supplier data and asking what is being done about all the unhappy customers.

          Other than that, what other path is there for customer complaints to make it to registrars?

  9. NorthAlabama says:

    those hard working executives are way to busy maximizing profits to ever come into contact with real customers.

    poor multi-million dollar, golden parachuted executive.

    • lyontaymer30 says:

      Well, they get those millions of dollars because when shit hits the fan, guess who has to take the hit? Not the CSRs in the call center I can tell you that. They’re the ones who have to stand there and take it when idiots are cursing them, threatening them and well being of their families. They can’t just quit and everything goes away.

      And if I was him, I’d just change my email to something that would be harder to figure out. If I’m the company head I’m sure alot more pressing things comes to that email. People want it to go back to 1940 when you call the head of Ma Bell and have a conversation, especially not in the age where everybody’s sue happy and will find the smallest thing to be offended about. If I was a CEO, I wouldn’t want to talk to you guys either lol.

      • NorthAlabama says:

        and who’s ultimately responsible for training and supporting the lack-luster level of service provided by those CSRs?

        hmm, who could that be???

  10. GandyDancer says:

    Perhaps it isn’t a “business” issue but a “cultural” issue. There are some cultures on this planet where decorum, discipline and chain of command, as mere examples, must be followed no matter what. Going outside of an established process just isn’t done. In more blunt terms, no one may speak to the boss unless invited, properly addressed, and you have been accorded some sort of minimal respect in your subservient role.

    Of in this case, I could be wrong and Yangkyu “Y.K.” Kim, President and CEO of Samsung Electronics North America could be just another CEO jerk we have here in America.

  11. Probity says:

    How does “was wondering if we could redact the said email and name from the post? We are not asking for anything else to be changed.” = “demanding a redaction.” It’s a reasonable request politely phrased. And it’s equally reasonable to deny the request. I don’t think it makes them a “rar angry company” as per the tag, nor is it a blotch on their reputation.

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Oh screw him. The bitch probably has an executive assistant to handle his mail anyway. He probably doesn’t even see most of it. The PR person is an idiot. The only reason this was necessary in the first place is because their precious process didn’t work!

  13. ThinkingBrian says:

    I disagree with the Samsung PR rep here. The Samsung CEO email address is already published in many places including their own website. So such a request to remove it from the comment section wrong. The commenter was giving some help to a fellow reader.

    All this email from the Samsung PR rep to The Consumerist (a consumer helpful site) has done is created is a PR mess for them to fix. By the way, get ready for another “I’m sorry for that email” statement.

    But everything aside, those executive or CEO email addresses are sometimes the only way for a consumer to get an resolved after the customer service experience has failed especially when it comes to DELL.

    Of course I’ve used one of those email addresses myself after the customer service failed several times and as a result of that well placed email with full details and real complaint, I received a full refund from Sony on my defective Notebook.

    So the email address really does need to stay in the comment section and in articles too. And if the Samsung CEO wants a private email address, he should create one that isn’t published everywhere including his companies own website.

    Come on Samsung, there is so much talk about you after the Apple vs. Samsung fights where you actually come off in a good position with many consumers buying your products not to mention you have some good products, don’t ruin it, you can do better than this.

  14. JediZombie says:

    Wouldn’t it be super easy to set up a filter that simply puts those emails into the proper place and in front the proper eyes, that way his email stays the same, stays public, people get the help they need and blammo! Problem solved.

  15. KyBash says:

    He’s tired of hearing how his customer service people discriminate, lie, and refuse to answer e-mails?

    Maybe there’s something he can do about that other than getting his e-mail address deleted.

  16. humphrmi says:

    I think the key point that the Samsung PR rep misses is the difference between a post and a comment. Or they choose to ignore the difference. In any case, ignorance is no excuse.

  17. Samuelm456 says:

    Bravo consumerist. The legitimate snark in this post alone is worth about a year of free Samsung service. Oh wait…

  18. oldwiz65 says:

    CEOs don’t want to hear from customers for any reason; that’s why they have flunkies like VPs.

  19. MarkFL says:

    That is not a picture of Y.K. Kim. It is an imposter. I know this because the guy in the photograph is not cool enough to be Y.K. Kim.