Monday, June 4, 2012

'Next time, buy American'

This line was quoted to me two weeks ago by a man wearing a navy blue work shirt with a name tag identifying himself as Singh. He was over at our house to diagnose the problem we've been having for the past month with our fridge. (You may recall this is the Samsung fridge that we bought a year and a half ago.) Specifically, the fridge has been making intermittent horrible noises that sound a bit like a chainsaw is dividing our home in half.

According to Singh, Samsung appliances are still relatively new in the U.S., so there are lots of electrical problems the company is still working out with the models it's selling here. Singh volunteered that in his home country of India, Samsung is one of the most trusted brands of appliances, but that reputation is yet to pan out in America. He told me to buy American appliances in the future because the problem we're having with the fridge -- a failing motor, kind of a big deal -- requires ordering a part from overseas and having it shipped here.

I got really annoyed when I heard our fridge, which was manufactured less than two years ago according to the sticker inside its door, was making awful noises. I assumed this would be an expensive repair. Then I got even more annoyed when Singh confirmed that, yes, this probably will in fact be an expensive repair.

After we got our initial diagnosis and estimate, though, we did something smart, and here's what we need to keep in mind in the future. We called Samsung.

When Matt was on the phone with Samsung it took virtually no time for the representative to pass Matt along to talk to one of his superiors. The manager agreed with Matt's assessment that a one-and-a-half-year old appliance should not need a major repair. So the manager extended our warranty on our fridge for another year. The manager asked for the name of the company we'd used to give us the initial diagnosis and estimate. We'd already paid that company $70 for the diagnosis, and because Samsung had just extended our warranty they were going to reimburse us that $70 provided the company we'd used was an authorized Samsung repair company. Turns out the initial company we used is not an authorized Samsung repair company, but the manager from Samsung went so far as to call the other company and offer for them to become authorized, which would ultimately get us our $70 back. Of course, the company declined, and we're out $70, but Samsung ordered our replacement motor from overseas right then, and it showed up a few days later.

In between ordering the part and the part actually showing up was a weekend when I was hosting a baby shower at our house. Knowing that the fridge's noise can last for about two hours once it starts up, I feared that the noise would destroy the party, but thankfully the fridge obliged and stayed quiet while hosting guests.

A week after meeting Singh, a new repair person from an authorized Samsung repair shop showed up at our house with our new motor. He got here at 12:02 and by 12:16 he was done. I couldn't believe it. And all I had to do was sign a piece of paper. I didn't have to write him a giant check.

So, while we are still out that initial $70, we have an essentially free new motor and another year of free fridge repairs should anything else occur. Though Singh succeeded in making me question our decision to purchase our Samsung fridge (despite its high rating in Consumer Reports when we bought it), at least I gained faith in Samsung customer service. Ultimately, I'm reminded of something I wish I'd remembered in the beginning: when you're having a problem with a product, call the company first and see what it can do for you.

1 comment:

  1. Samsung is a really fascinating company. They build things as small as transistors (22nm) and as big as cargo ships (100m). And their dominance internationally is actually translating quite well to the US, despite the large cultural differences between Korea and the States. What helps is their commitment to service, albeit unadvertised. Hope the new motor holds up. Cheers.