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.