Samsung: Do Not Return Your Defective TV

Reader Shawn has had a hell of a time. When his Samsung TV arrived DOA, he tried to return it to the retailer but was told he’d be stuck with a 15% restocking fee, as well as shipping both ways for an exchange. Ouch. Shawn noticed that the TV came with a note that said, “Do not call retailer for returns, call Samsung!”

This note was probably due to the fact that consumers often do not know how to properly hook up HDTVs, and return them thinking they are defective. In Shawn’s case, the TV really was defective. So did Samsung help him? Of course not.

Read Shawn’s story inside.

Shawn writes:

    On November 26th I bought a brand new HDTV Plasma 50 inch HPS-5073 (MSRP 3299$) from an authorized retailer (DataVision in NYC) that Samsung’s sales department referred me to. (It was out of stock at two local shops, thus my call to sales.) The television arrived on Saturday December 2nd. I unboxed it on Sunday the 3rd, switched it on and I was greeted with a flickering screen and a high pitched squeal. Great, dead on arrival.

    I contacted DataVision’s customer support the next day (Monday December 4th 2006) around 8am CST and asked about such situations. The customer service representative informed me that the base restocking fee is 15% but could be higher, and that I was responsible for shipping in both directions. This would total over 600$ plus another 400$ or more for the exchange fee for a television that arrived broken. I asked if Samsung would be more helpful, and the person at DataVision suggested I call them about options. To drive the point home, Samsung also put in bold lettering on the manual and box (paraphrased) “Do not call retailer for returns, call Samsung!”.

    I immediately called Samsung at 8:45am and spoke with Steve in customer support. Steve told me he’d send a technician on-site and had heard of this squealing “buzz” problem before. Samsung would verify the problem, see if they could fix it, and if not would send me another one. I was pretty happy about this, since I wouldn’t be out over a thousand dollars.

    A week later on December 11th, two service technicians came onsite and said they’d order some parts and return. They assured me, as Steve at Samsung had, that this would be resolved before the end of DataVision’s return window. The technicians didn’t return and after multiple calls they picked up the television to “replace parts” on December 18th. At this point, my return window to the company I bought it from had expired and I felt pretty stupid for listening to Samsung and DataVision.

    On the 20th, 22nd, and finally the 27th the repair center claimed they still couldn’t figure out the problem and Samsung didn’t have any ideas. I contacted the corporate line and was referred to Executive Customer Relations (ECR), specifically “Todd”. Todd told me they could likely refund my money as I was obviously unhappy, or could even switch out the television for a completely different model. I had to wait five more business days because of a policy that required allowing the repair center one last chance. He said he’d call me back and let me know my options, but never did.

    Five business days passed, and I contacted support again on January 4th. I spoke with Robert who told me that Executive Customer Service did things differently and that no refund or replacement would ever be offered. Additionally I had to wait until January 17th before they would even work with me, and that there was absolutely nothing he could do. I asked for a supervisor and Erin answered. She told me the exact same thing, and refused to transfer me to Executive Customer Service. So I asked for her manager, and was given Alicia. Alicia called the service center and was told that the service center had never contacted support. She told me there was nothing that could be done and tersely walked me in circles until I was exhausted.

    This same cycle has happened several more times, including on January 17th (the day they promised to start helping me) when I spoke to both Ken and Natasha in ECR at Samsung. Natasha claimed she would call me back, and never did. Ken refused to transfer me to Natasha, or provide any further assistance. No one ever called me back.

    Update: [Jan 19th] Samsung is shipping me a new LCD (not plasma) by Feb 18th.

Shawn has more info about the problem, the resources he used to try to solve it… and more at his site, (which he has put on hold while he waits for the tracking number on his “new” TV.) Samsung has agreed to ship Shawn a different (better) model if he pays the difference ($500) and Shawn has agreed. Will he get a new tv? We shall see. —MEGHANN MARCO

Samsung Saga


Edit Your Comment

  1. Scazza says:

    and they couldn’t ship him the same model because…..

  2. I was under the impression that restocking fees were only valid if the product weren’t defective. In which case, would this be solved by a more aggressive approach with the retailer? The fact that Shawn has already worked out paying the 500$ difference for a better model TV almost sounds like they upsold him in an around-the-back way. End result: Business wins.

    My advice to Shawn would be to stand firm, accept the better model if he really wants to pay the 500$ but IMO if all they could provide was a better model then he shouldn’t have to pay for it. Case in point: A phased out apple iPod that’s under warranty will often get replaced by the better one in the event it’s defective.

  3. Magister says:

    Yeah, I don’t understand what happened here either. He gets a broken TV but accepts that the retailer is not responsible? How did that happen?

  4. homerjay says:

    Wow, Datavision is still in business? I thought they went all “Nobody Beats the Wiz”

  5. I concur with S_A, how can Samsung charge a restock fee for a defective item? In fact, their own technicians apparently determined it was defective because they were supposedly “ordering parts.”

    Kudos to Shawn though for getting names every time and documenting as much as possible. And Scazza’s got an excellent point. Even if the same model was no longer available, there must have been a comparable replacement that didn’t require an extra $500…

  6. ElPresidente408 says:

    I had a similar experience where my Samsung LCD backlight broke after a couple of months. I called Samsung who set up an appointment for me with a local electronics repair service. The guy came out, tried fixing the TV, but ended up writing on the report that it was un-serviceable.

    Samsung told me I either had the option to replace it through them or Circuit City. I picked CC since it was faster that way, and I ended up getting a newer model for no cost at all.

  7. kicka says:

    This is a travesty . . . as usual! Why should any consumer be put through something like this?

  8. matto says:

    I would have reversed my credit card charges as soon as samsung took posession of the busted TV, and bought one from a different manufacturer and dealer immediately. Accepting an LCD replacement for his plasma after this sort of nonsense is crazy!

  9. adamondi says:

    Man. Sounds like a great reason to make sure you know the particulars of your retailer’s return policy before dropping a couple large on a new TV.

  10. Hoss says:

    I hope the Samsung organization reads this. Shawn seems beyond reasonable — I mean, if I paid that much for a new plasma, i wouldn’t be allowing repairs, I’d be demanding a brand spanking new plasma just like I ordered. (It would take me just 20 minutes to send off a demand letter under the laws of my state right after the first and only call.) What shitty customer service. After reading this, I’d keep my low-end TV if I was offered a high-end Samsung product.

  11. mathew says:

    At the point where Samsung said “no refund, no replacement”, I’d have called up AmEx to dispute the charges and take advantage of their “return guarantee” option…

    I had much better luck with Sharp. My LCD HDTV had a problem with randomly powering off and on again. Turned out there was a firmware upgrade needed. Sharp had someone come visit me at home to apply the firmware upgrade. Took a second visit because their SD card was busted the first time, but I didn’t have to pay anything or go without the TV I’d paid for.

  12. SecureLocation says:

    Umm, so much for the Samsung TV I was thinking of buying…

  13. eeebee says:

    Wow, it takes great leap of faith to buy electronics any more. I bought a 32″ LG LCD tv on Saturday from Best Buy. My son and I stood there and discussed whether it was foolish or not to buy it from Best Buy since we’ve had some bad experiences there and have repeatedly said we won’t shop there anymore. There aren’t many other options in our town and we wanted something low-end so we decided to risk it. Took it home and sure enough, the speakers were bad and emitted a tremendous buzzing noise and then no sound at all. With great trepidation, we took it back on Sunday and they made us get it checked out by the Geek Squad. Much to our relief, as soon as the geek plugged it in, a tremendous buzzing noise came out of it and they gave us a new tv. For once, Best Buy did right by the customer but I think it’s a shame that buying electronics has become so terrifying.

  14. suckonthat says:

    Uh, am I the only one who feels scared to buy anything that costs more than a dollar after reading everything on this site? Don’t get me wrong, I love The Consumerist and believe that ignorance is not bliss, but I have become a raging paranoid that everything I buy is going to be a dud and that I am going to get stuck in consumer relation hell. Maybe I should just embrace the life of a luddite…

    • ensignfodder says:

      @suckonthat: I cannot agree more – maybe Ted Kaczynski was on to something with the whole non-tech shack, of course the bombing is completely unacceptable no matter how much hold music.

  15. ugly says:

    If he hasn’t received a shiny new screen by the 18th then I only have two words of advice…

    Charge and Back.

  16. FafnirTM says:

    Another reason to only buy from Costco! Just return it for a full refund. If you purchase online you can return it the store.

    I think they limit computers to 6 months for returns, but HDTVs afaik are still lifetime returns. It may switch to 6 months eventually, but even that is enough to cover a doa.

  17. Glahes says:

    This is my second post. I have a few comments here.

    ill touch on Shawns case:

    i reviewed shawn’s site and ill try to be organized but theres no guarantee.

    First thing that stood out was “Robert’s” comment.

    “ECR handles situations differently, and regular support cannot refund or replace without the repair center saying so.”

    Slightly true. First level support cannot authorize refunds or exchanges on tv’s. Period.

    he was escelated to a supervisor Erin.. not in my call center. same for the manager.

    ECR – “Kent”.. His name is Ken and im convinced he’s mentally retarded, or close to.

    at any rate.. samsung no longer offers paid upgrades. and the reason he was denied when asked to be transfered to a specific person.. is because it’s not possible at the lowest level.

    The only thing from Grace (ECR) is: “it hasnt shipped yet” thats suprising. Grace is good people.


    First. Do not confuse the retailer with the manufacturer, and do not simply expect to get a replacement from the manufacturer, when you purchased from a retailer. (unless you get a samsung LCD monitor.. but it’s still a refurb after 90 days)

    Also, when you set up service for your samsung TV, ask for the ASC’s (authorized service center) grade. much like in school.. would you allow a doctor with a grade of C to operate on you?

    If at any time the ASC says they cannot fix your tv, or any other electronic, Tell them to file a SAW. if they say that filed the paperwork, ask for the SAW number. SAW.. not SAS.

    If you get to customer relations and talk to Ken.. Hang up and call back into 1-800-samsung to be transfered up again. Even if you have to wait another hour on hold. It’s worth it. Even I refuse to talk to Ken, in ECR.

    Lastly.. noone expects someone thats works for samsung to read this and care.. and so they dont post a transaction number.. Do so..

    and if the transaction number doesnt start with 4001—— then your getting screwed and call back into samsung till you get one that starts with 4001
    or 3000…

    Ill just say that Samsung has been leaning away from “customer data collection” and more toward customer satisfaction within the last month. Lets just hope that manufacturers realize that customer satisfaction means that when something goes wrong, and its fixed, they dont lose a customer. They in fact gain more.

    And personally, if they would look at if we help to resolve an issue, rather than how long it takes us to get someone off the phone, they might end up making a bit more money along with having satisfied and loyal customers.


  18. ensignfodder says:

    My Samsung story in a few words. Bought 2693HM from eBay as a “new-open-box” and when it arrived I registered it and received confirmation email of my “new” product registration and free 3 month extension. 2+ months later it is still emitting a strong order I call support (case 4003094517) and am informed that it is not new but is refurbished and I have less then a month of warranty left. Paypal only helps for 60 days as does CC so I ask very nicely for help and Samsung says No. Will handle existing problem under 3 month warranty, but no free extension, no breadcrumb of any sort. Seller is willing (Legend Micro) to cover for 3 years but at my cost to ship and return. As I explained I depended on the notification from Samsung that it was new to “test” the issue but they told me that is not how their registration system works. I asked for them to honor the email’ed 3 months and they again said No.

    Love the products but I will never buy again from Samsung.

    • Stop2ThinkABit says:


      Whenever someone registers a product online there is no one waiting on the other end verifying all the info you put in. It is pretty much to allow the serial number to be linked to you, the consumer, and it protects you in case the unit is ever stolen. The additional three months warranty, by default, falls under the terms/conditions of the normal warranty which states that it is non-transferable.

      I’m sure this applies to many manufacturers out there but, in most cases, purchasing products from another consumer is grounds for voiding your warranty.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Bought a Samsung DVD player, while still under warranty it stopped reading the DVD’s. Sent it back to Samsung and they repaired it at no cost and returned it. A few months later, now out of warranty, it began again, wouldnt read the DVD’s. Samsung said to return and they would repair ay no charge since it was only a few months from previous repair. Returnd the DVD player to Samsung and they called and said we would need to pay to have it fixed. Explained to them they said they would fix it no charge, they said no. Asked for higher level customer service, spoke to Robert, he said nope, you pay for the repair if you want your DVD player back. Asked for higher level person and he said no, he was the highest level person. What a rip off company, hard to believe but true story. Robert must think he is the CEO.