Samsung bends warranty rules to retain customers

When a Samsung customer complains about his out-of-warranty TV, it turns out the timeline isn't limited to hard and fast rules

I was recently surprised to encounter a Samsung dishwasher when shopping for a replacement for my defunct one. TVs, kitchen appliances, cell phones, laptops -- it would seem Samsung is everywhere. And anyone who went to CES this year certainly saw the spectacle that was the Samsung booth; it was like a country of its own in a sea of excess. Despite Samsung having products in almost every category, I rarely get letters about the company here, so I found Gripe Line reader Dave's recent Samsung experience interesting.

"A couple of years ago, I purchased a 52-inch LCD Samsung TV for around $2,000," Dave writes. "It was a big purchase for us. But I didn't buy an extended warranty, assuming that any problems with the unit would likely crop up within the warranty period."

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As it turned out, a problem did arise well within the warranty period: The TV did not work when Dave got it home.

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"An easy call to Samsung had someone at my house to take it away and fix it under the warranty," Dave says. "All it cost me was the sparkle of a new experience and two weeks of TV use."

Dave got his TV back, and it worked well -- for the next year and a half.

"But then the image began to lose sharpness and quality on one side of the screen," he says. "It got progressively worse until the image flickered between ghostly images and non-descript colors. But after 10 minutes it would settle down and work fine. Until one day it quit altogether."

This time it was no longer within the manufacturer's warranty, so Dave called a repair person for an assessment.

"He diagnosed the problem as a manufacturer's defect in the bonding of the data ribbon that surrounds the screen. Price to fix: $1,700. Sigh. I estimate my TV pleasure cost me roughly $1,000 per year."

Dave didn't give up right away. After all, without a TV, he had plenty of time to make phone calls. He rang Samsung's customer service line again, admitted the TV was out of warranty, and asked simply if -- in order to keep him as a customer -- the company would help him out.

"I was immediately escalated to someone who answered the phone, 'Executive offices,'" Dave reports. "I hold no illusions about this, but I do appreciate the effort to let me know I'm important to the company."

Dave explained what had happened with his TV and reiterated his hope that the company would make things right despite being under no obligation to do so.

"Within 5 minutes the representative extended my warranty and put me in contact with a local repair shop. The TV was repaired -- in my home -- within two weeks," he retells. The move also worked in terms of keeping Dave as a customer.

"Samsung did right by me," he says. "And I'm likely to continue looking at Samsung products before I consider something else. They will certainly earn far more from me because of this than they would have saved by hiding behind the warranty."

Maybe I should have bought that Samsung dishwasher? And maybe this willingness to correct problems quickly is why I don't get so many letters here at the Gripe Line about the company? Anyone else have a tale to tell?

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

This story, "Samsung bends warranty rules to retain customers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Christina Tynan-Wood's Gripe Line blog at InfoWorld.com.

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