The beauty of shopping online is that it’s easy to bring products from all over the world into our homes with a little bit of typing and a major credit card. The problem with buying from abroad, though, is that products for different markets don’t come with the same consumer protections. And sometimes you don’t know that you’re buying a product destined for a different market at all. That’s where Cassi’s cautionary tale comes in. From a small discount site, Cassi bought a Samsung MP3 player. Samsung tells her that it was made for the Chinese market and that if she wants them to honor her warranty, she has to fly to Hong Kong. Being a sensible person, Cassi does not want to fly to Hong Kong over a $200 MP3 player.
I purchased 2 Samsung Galaxy 4.2 Players (MP3) December 24 2012. They both have a 24 month warranty according to their paperwork. When they arrived one worked just fine but the other did not. I had a new memory card put in it and periodically the card would just not be able to be read, forcing me to have to open the back of the device, pull out the card and battery to reset and put them back in. Sometimes it would work sometimes it wouldn’t. If I skip too many songs on my playlist? The card errors.
The card works perfectly in the other player, so we knew the card wasn’t the issue here. After trying everything with the card I could try even formatting the card at one point it became obvious the player was at fault. I really didn’t want to call for a warranty fix, knowing I’d probably hit trouble. I always end up having trouble. But I finally chatted with Samsung on 3-18-2013. I told them my problem. I was very promptly informed this mp3 player was not [made for the American market]. It was made [for] Hong Kong. Therefore, the Samsung in America will not service me. But they were kind enough to give me the Hong Kong website portal so I could find my product information and get service from them.
When I did find my product information, I found that the phone contact information was not toll free, but local for Hong Kong. Well, that was no help to me. My current phone is my cell phone as many people do nowadays and I don’t have an international package.
I clicked all over the website until I finally decided I would just write them at the “contact us” about the website that you find at the bottom of the main homepage. I told them very briefly about the problem with being able to email them as well as about my MP3 player. The next day, I got an email back. All they said was
“Thank you for your enquiry. For overseas customer, please contact our colleagues in your living country for further assistant, kindly refer to the following hyperlink for more information related to our offices in other countries. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
Now I’m getting very frustrated. US doesn’t want to help me and Hong Kong won’t either. So I chatted again with Samsung in the US. The person wasn’t unkind, they were simply not helpful. They automatically sent me to the same website when I told them right off the bat what had happened and why I was back with them. Then kept giving me the Chinese phone number I could never use. I couldn’t get anything out of them that was new until finally THEY decided it was over and I had gotten past the being nice at that point. They were not just going to click off on me without SOMETHING new. ANYTHING for me to try. So I got firm and when they asked is there anything else I said yes you can FIX this.
In the end though, all I got was a main Samsung number (1800-726-7864). I spoke with a gentleman named [K] on the phone and even got a reference number. Wow. Moving up in the world. Again, he said he couldn’t do anything for me. It’s China’s product. Their job. But, there is a facility in Texas I could try. He gave me that number and told me to call after 9. So I did. I spoke to a very friendly woman named [H]. She told me they get calls like mine, at least a few each week, but because the parts are from China they don’t have the right pieces to just fix the player.
What’s odd about this is that there are almost no electronics made in the United States anymore. If they’re assembled or repaired here, it’s with parts made somewhere in Asia. The warranty on a product originally sold in China might be different, but the components themselves are pretty much the same. That model of Galaxy Mp3 player was sold on the U.S. market.
Cassi wrote to Samsung China again, and they wrote back:
“Thanks for your enquiry. According to your situation, you may back up the data in memory card first then format the memory card. If it still fail and the player was bought from authorized shops in Hong Kong, please kindly backup your necessary information if necessary. Then, please kindly bring your product and invoice(within warranty) to service centre for further inspection.”
Honestly, all I could think is what the hell? I told them I was overseas. I’m not flying to China for my Mp3 player. It’s really beginning to look like it’s not worth the fight anymore, but I’m honestly out of ideas here. I just thought someone should know that Samsung is not very good about standing by or servicing their product.
After this much interaction with Samsung customer service, we’d suggest turning to the Office of the President. Maybe someone there can straighten out the confusion about what country this MP3 player is in.