My Adventures with Samsung Customer Service

25 May: I ordered a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab (Sprint version) from Woot.com. The price was good; the product arrived pretty quickly; I bought a spiffy leather case that converts to a stand; and I traded in my old ThinkOutside Bluetooth keyboard for a great little Freedom Pro keyboard that would work with both the Tab and my iPod Touch. I installed Angry Birds Rio and some office apps and started learning—and loving—the Android way of doing things.

4 July: Over the holiday weekend, I did something wrong and my Tab died. Bricked, as they say. I’m no novice when it comes to tech, so I checked the manual, searched the various message boards, tried the “hold the power button for ten seconds” option, then the more arcane “hold the power button and the volume up button together for ten seconds.” Nothing.

5 July: I phoned Samsung customer support. Went through the usual maze that is an automated corporate answering service, and landed at the “Please hold for the next available operator” message. I held. About 30 seconds in, the other end went “click” and I found myself automated back to the beginning of the maze, though the sound was now tinny and faint. I punched the sequence of choices again to reach the “Please hold for the next available operator” message and held. Distant, tinny elevator music.

After a short wait, a human answered—someone outside the U.S., I think, perhaps from Samsung’s Asian headquarters. He said, “I can’t hear you very well,” and I replied, “I know. I think your phone system is broken.” We shouted our way through a conversation in which he asked scripted questions about my Tab’s phone provider, and I explained that I was using the device for wifi only. Next, he had me hold down the Tab’s power button for ten seconds, then the power and volume button together. “Your Tab is broken,” he said, “It will have to be returned for service, but it’s still under warranty. I’ll have a UPS label sent to you.” I thanked him.

8 July: An email arrived late in the day from Samsung, with a service authorization number. It didn’t look like a UPS label. I clicked the tracking link in it, but the resulting page offered no information. (Seriously. You’ll see what I mean by “no information” in a bit.) So I followed the Web site’s “Customer Support” tab to the online chat option. “What am I supposed to do with this email?” I asked. “Tape it to the box to ship the Tab,” the customer service person typed. “It doesn’t look like a UPS label,” I replied. “Your Tab has been authorized for return,” he typed, “Print the email and tape it to the box.” “Okay,” I wrote, “if you say so.”

9 July: I phoned customer service during the day to explain that this didn’t look like a UPS label. Turns out it wasn’t one. After the maze of numbers to select your country, language, product type, carrier (remember, it’s a Sprint Tab though I’m using just the wifi), I reached a human who took me through the usual scripted questions, then put me on hold while she checked something with her manager. When she came back, she said, “It looks like your Tab is still under warranty, so we should have sent a UPS label, but the previous service person didn’t. I’m not sure why. Hang on the phone, please, while I email you one.” She wouldn’t let me off the line until it arrived. For the next fifteen minutes, she had me refresh my email program several times, then shut it down and restart it a couple of times, then shut down and restart my computer and restart the email, each time asking, “Has it arrived yet?” And each time the answer was “No.” Eventually she gave up and told me to call back if it didn’t arrive within the hour. About two minutes later it finally showed.

I shipped the Tab out that afternoon.

14 July: I received the following email message from Samsung:

Dear LESTER SMITH,

We received your Samsung SPH-P100ZKASPR on 7/14/2011 at 2:55 PM EST.
Service Ticket Number: 4106320372

For real time repair status, please click the Repair Self Tracking button on the right.

If you have any additional questions, please call us at 1-888-987-4357 and reference Ticket Number: 4106320372.

“Yay!” I thought. I clicked the “Repair Self Tracking” button. It took me to a “This page does not exist” message on the Samsung Web site. I clicked the service ticket number (also a link). It took me to the same “This page does not exist message.”

“Weird,” I thought.

Over the course of the next several days, I tried the links again and again, with the same “missing page” message each time.

20 July: I made the following snarky remark on Twitter: “Samsung customer service seems like dysfunctional Borg: automated but few results; emailed links don’t work, & phone/chat seem too scripted.”

Suddenly the “missing page” message changed to “Page under repair.” Coincidence?

21 July: The service tracking page came back online and showed my service request. Yay! It listed my request as “Open.” Not very informative. Clicking the number link resulted in a popup “Phone number does not match” message. Probably something to do with my Tab not actually HAVING a phone number.

Later that day, I received the following email from Samsung:

Dear LESTER SMITH,

Please be advised that your Samsung service ticket [4106320372] has been placed on a temporary hold due to an unavailable part.

As soon as the part becomes available, your device will be repaired and shipped promptly.

If you have any additional questions, please call us at 1-888-987-4357 and reference Ticket Number: 4106320372.

Thank you for your patience,
Samsung Telecommunications America

Let me get this straight: The service center in Plano, Texas, doesn’t have a part in stock for a Samsung Galaxy Tab? I thought Samsung built the things. I thought this was a service center. It’s probably where the Tab was refurbished in the first place.

Ah, well.

22-31 July: For the next 11 days (11 days!), I logged into my account regularly and checked the tracking page to see if there was any change. None. “Open.” Each time, I then clicked the “Quick Link” to online chat there, hoping to ask for details, and the popup always said the following:

We value your business.

Unfortunately none of our Agents are available at this time due to high traffic levels.

Please feel free to use our self-serve options or try our chat services again later. If your problem requires immediate attention, you may call 1-800-SAMSUNG (726-7864).

Thank you!

Day after day it has said that. It still says that.

Partway along, I used their email form to request an update on the tracking number. Days passed. Never a reply.

1 August: On a whim, I tried the chat link on the Web site’s “Customer Service” tab. It works! Here’s a transcript of my chat with the service person.

You are now chatting with ‘Suzanne’. There will be a brief survey at the end of our chat to share feedback on my performance today.

Your Issue ID for this chat is LTK564026750X

Suzanne: Hi, thank you for contacting Samsung Technical Support. How may I help you today?

Lester Smith: I’m checking about the status of a service request, 4106320372.

Suzanne: I understand that you are unable to check the repair status of the service ticket. Am I correct ?

Lester Smith: Correct.

Suzanne: Thank you for the confirmation.

Suzanne: Let me check the information for you.

Suzanne: Thank you for holding.

Suzanne: As per the information updated that the unit is repair-pending and the update is given on 7/21/2011 1:48 PM.

Lester Smith: What does “repair-pending” mean?

Suzanne: As our service engineers are still repairing the product.

Lester Smith: Is it typical for a product to be in “repair-pending” status for a week and a half since the last update? (I have to say my experience with Samsung has been pretty frustrating thus far.)

Suzanne: I understand how frustrating this is for you. If I were in your place I would have felt the same.

Suzanne: As it depends on the nature of the issue that’s the reason its taking some time to resolve the issue.

Suzanne: In this case I request you to please wait for some more time until we get a new update on this.

Suzanne: I don’t mean to rush you, but I haven’t had a response from you. Are we still connected in this chat?

Lester Smith: Okay. For what it’s worth, I was originally told 5-8 business days for repair. That was July 5. The email sent me to ship the Tab back was not a UPS label. I had to call customer service to get that corrected. The next email was a UPS label. I shipped the Tab in. The next email had a link to track the service. That led to a broken Web page. Eventually that page was fixed and the service number showed as “open.” The chat link on that page is broken. I’ve sent emails with no responses. Finally, about 10 days ago I got an email saying it was pending a part. Ten days later, I finally get to talk with you.

Lester Smith: Just so you understand the extent of my dissatisfaction with Samsung.

Suzanne: In this case I suggest you to contact our Galaxy Tab voice support team at 1-800-Samsung (1-800-726-7864) anyday between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m (EST). So that they will check the detail and help you further on this.

Suzanne:

Lester Smith: At this point, I seriously doubt they’ll have any other information, but I’ll give it a try tomorrow evening.

Suzanne: I am sorry I couldn’t help you fix the issue over the chat. However, is there anything else I might be able to assist you with?

Lester Smith: You might want to have a Web person fix the chat link on the “My Account” page. It’s been delivering a “nobody’s available” message for about a week now.

Suzanne: I will surely pass on this issue to our support team I appreciate you to bringing this issue to our notice.

Suzanne: Do you have any other questions for me?

Lester Smith: No. I appreciate your listening to my complaint.

Summation: Roughly a month after contacting Samsung about my bricked Tab, I know only these things for certain:

  1. They have received my Tab.
  2. It’s been waiting on a part since 21 July.
  3. This tech company’s support tech is glitchy, even broken.
  4. I’ll never buy Samsung again.

Photo by J.D. Hancock

6 Comments

  1. Rick Mason

    This is now July 2016 and I can tell you that none of this has changed as I had the same issues just trying to ship and get confirmation that they received it. I am now also waiting on a repair for a tablet with web service tracking not working and no information available.

  2. Joe

    I can tell you that over a year later, they are still sending out emails with a tech support tracking number that have a broken link to the status of the repair. Over a year, and still I can’t get a status without writing tech support. What’s the excuse for not figuring out you’ve been sending broken links for a year? If I log into my account on the Samsung site, and click the link there, it still tells me its an invalid tracking number. And it’s their link!

  3. Obviously, as an author, I’m very happy about the Kindle revolution, but your experience certainly made me look at the downside.

    Now I’m thinking we could make some money selling a TV commercial to the corporate publishing industry:

    Reader w/broken Kindle is on hold. Forever. Finally speaks with non-English-speaking tech support. Who puts him on hold. Reader picks up a paper book.

    Na. That would be smart. Corporate publishing would never go for it.

  4. Les

    Touché, Anne. As an ebook lover, I’m cut to the quick by that observation.

    I wonder if Gutenberg did have any such complaints from the vellum and scroll crowd in his day. ;-)

  5. This makes my head hurt.

    It also gave me the sudden thought–in all our ecstatic shouting about e-readers and the digital revolution, nobody seems to be mentioning the amount of time we’ll all be spending in fruitless non-communication with Pakistani tech support.

    My paper books hardly ever put me on hold for two hours. Or need replacement parts.

  6. Update:
    Finally got a phone-support person who could give specifics. The part will be in late next week. I’ll have my Tab back the week after that.

    Summation:
    9 days to get the Tab to Samsung
    7 days for them to tell me a part’s not stocked
    12 days to get any further update on that news
    9-10 more days for the part to arrive (estimated)
    1 week to receive the repaired Tab (estimated)

    Total service time: roughly 45 days

    And the sad thing is, from talking to customer service, I get the feeling they just can’t afford to care. The juggernaut’s too big for anyone inside to adjust its inexorable path. Sort of like the U.S. Congress.

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