Why I’ll Never Buy Another Samsung

Until October 2023, I had a good opinion of Samsung. I own two Samsung TVs. They’ve never given me any trouble. I used to respect the brand as a sign of quality. When my wife and I decided to replace our garage fridge (a.k.a. my “beer fridge”), I realized that Samsung also makes refrigerators. My wife and I bought a side-by-side unit with a minimalist design and a classy stainless steel finish. It’s model number, I learned later, was RS28A500ASR/AA. I’ll never buy anything from Samsung again, as I’ll explain in this post.

The Samsung Refrigerator was manufactured in October 2021. We purchased it in November 2021 for $1,382.84 from BestBuy. On Sunday, October 22, 2023, I opened the freezer to find it warm and everything in it melted. I thought we must have left the door open by mistake. But we hadn’t. I noticed the refrigerator also felt warmer than it should. By the end of the day, it was hot, just like the freezer

I tracked down the receipt, hoping the unit might still be under warranty. Fortunately, my wife still had a delivery confirmation text from BestBuy, which I used to look up the receipt, proving ownership. Finding that the fridge was still covered (under the 5-year part of the warranty), I contacted Samsung on Monday, October 23, 2023, initially by text. I got handed off to half a dozen different people, was required to perform some requested diagnostic steps, and finally contacted them by phone, since the text support wasn’t very helpful or very efficient and seemed to be going around in circles.

On the phone, Samsung’s customer service representatives were very nice. They created a ticket which assigned my case to National Repair Center, a firm based in Joplin, Missouri, which is 91 miles away and a smaller town in a different state from the one I live in. That seemed odd. There are over half a million people in the Northwest Arkansas metropolitan area. Why farm out warranty repairs to some small, out-of-state firm, Samsung? Especially one with, as we shall see, horrible reviews?

Something to watch for, if you find yourself in the same situation, is people on the phone referring to your appliance as being “out of warranty” just because the 1-year portion of the warranty has lapsed. Samsung and their repair company both did this more than once. I kept reminding them that, while the 1-year portion of the warranty had lapsed, the 5-year and 10-year portions were still in effect. They always agreed, when I pointed this out, but I found it odd that they used the phrase “out of warranty” in a situation where it, logically, didn’t apply.

National Repair Center

National Repair Center–a name so bland I sometimes have trouble remembering it–contacted me by text on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. They informed me that I’d have to pay their $94.95 diagnostic fee in advance. That seemed odd, and I told them so, but they said “this is how our process is.” So, I waited for the invoice. I followed up on it Wednesday, October 25. It was lost in the Gmail spam filter. It took a few more texts to confirm it had been sent. I found and paid it early that same afternoon.

National Repair Center sent their diagnostic technician on October 27, 2023. I crossed my fingers hoping it would be an issue with the compressor, as that meant parts and labor would be covered under warranty. It didn’t take long for the technician to determine it was, in fact, the compressor. The next step was for National Repair Center to order parts from Samsung. Only after receiving them would they be willing to schedule the repair. That is another aspect of their process. They informed me they were scheduled out “2-3 weeks on compressor jobs.” I informed them that I’d like my fridge fixed in time for Thanksgiving, as that was one of the main reasons to have a second fridge in the first place (besides, of course, beer). They made no promises.

National Repair Center’s repair technician arrived on November 15. In fairly short order, he determined that the fridge, in additional to a compressor, would also require an evaporator. On the up side, as I knew from having reviewed the warranty, the evaporator and the labor to replace it would also be covered. On the downside, there was no way in the fridge would be repaired in time for Thanksgiving. I said “this is fucking ridiculous.” He seemed taken aback. I assured him I had no trouble with him, but that the main reason we have an extra fridge is for the holidays. The technician said “I’m sorry” in what I took to be a sarcastic way. I told him that sorry is nice, but it doesn’t fix my fridge.

The tech was offended that I “cussed at him,” which I did not, in fact, do. I swore at the situation, which was, quite objectively, fucking ridiculous. It had been 24 days, my fridge was still broken, and I wouldn’t have the benefit of it for Thanksgiving. On top of all that, I’m a grown man. I swear. I make no bones about it, particularly in my own home.

The repair tech complained to his boss that I swore at him. The boss called me, admonishing me for “cussing at” her technician. I told her I had no problem with her technician, and pointed out that I had said as much to him. I had a problem with her firm and with Samsung. I explained my frustrations with the timeline of the repair and with the fact that this was supposed to be a repair appointment, not yet another diagnostic appointment. She told me there are some things which can’t be determined until you “cut into” a refrigerator and that “anything can happen.” I agreed not to swear in the presence of her repair technician. She agreed to order parts and contact me when they arrived. I asked if they could promise my fridge would be repaired by Christmas. She refused to.

I contacted National Repair Center on Monday, November 27th, to see if parts had been ordered and when the next repair appointment would be scheduled. They said they were shooting for December 1st. They’d be reaching out to confirm the timeframe “soon.” They finally confirmed it on November 30th, the day before the appointment. National Repair Center’s repair technician–the same one as before–arrived on December 1st, 2023. He spent about three hours repairing the fridge. We were ruthlessly polite to each other.

It had taken Samsung and their designee, National Repair Center 41 days to return my fridge to working order, counting all the way back to my initial phone call. Less than one week later, on December 7th, 2023, it failed again. The Samsung app alerted my wife that the fridge was warm. I checked the thermometers I’d left in it. Sure enough, the fridge was 51 degrees and the freezer was 50. I texted National Repair Center. They texted back some time later saying I’d need to call Samsung and file a new ticket.

I called Samsung on December 7th. They started a new ticket for a repair followup, which would mean that National Repair Center would be back in my life for another visit. I wondered if the goal were simply to run out the clock on the warranty. I mentioned to the person on the call that I felt Samsung should refund my money. She ignored that and proceeded with the new repair ticket.

Shortly after I got off the call, I received a text from Samsung offering me a $660 “repair eCoupon” good only at samsung.com rather than continue with the repair. The offer was good for 24 hours. I’d already decided I’d never buy anything from Samsung again, so I let it lapse. That same day, a friend who was aware of my difficulties with the fridge contacted me, letting me know his wife had a similar problem with hers and had found a useful Facebook group of people in the same situation. It’s called the UNamed Broken Appliance Group, and I recommend it.

Samsung called me on December 12th to see if the (new, third) repair attempt had been completed. I let them know that it hadn’t yet been scheduled. I recorded the call. I gave the person on the other end of the line the entire history I’ve presented here, including that National Repair Center had now been to my house twice and that the “repair” had lasted less than a week. I pointed out that it had now been 52 days without the use of the fridge. I said I believed the fridge was defective, that I didn’t have any confidence that it could be repaired, and that I felt Samsung should refund my money. I pointed out that a refund of the purchase price was within the bounds of the warranty, that Samsung had that option (“During the applicable warranty period, a product will be repaired, replaced, or the purchase price refunded, at the sole option of SAMSUNG”), and that I felt they should avail themselves of that option.

To his credit, the guy on the line seemed to take what I said seriously. He asked me to hold the line while he reviewed my file to see what could be done. When he came back on the line, he clarified a few more points and said that, having spoken with his manager, they’d determined I qualified for an “accommodation” and the accommodation would be the refund of the purchase price. He explained that I’d be getting a call for a different department in “24-48 business hours.” This seemed like good news.

On December 18th, Samsung’s exchange department called me. I recorded this call as well, all 34 minutes of it. The person I spoke with this time, Priscilla, claimed I did not meet the criteria for a refund because I had not experienced a “repair delay.” As you might imagine, I did not take this well. I’d already been told I qualified for a refund. At this point, the fridge had been out of commission since October 22 (58 days). Even if you credit Samsung and National Repair Center with restoring it to working order for six days, I’d still been 52 days without the use of it. There had been, to my mind, considerable “repair delay,” and the brief, inadequate “repair” in no way offset that. I explained all of this. Priscilla kept reiterating all we could do was file a new ticket. I finally said I wanted to speak to whoever signed Pricilla’s checks. She implied that it wouldn’t matter, but that she’d be happy to find a manager.

The manager, Alex, finally joined the call and said I did, in fact, qualify for the refund.

Some texts and interactions with the app Samsung uses to manage such things followed. Samsung confirmed some information that they already knew, I selected my payment method (check). They forwarded my case to Citibank, who handles the payments. I signed the terms and conditions on 12/19/2023. I kept checking the mailbox. I finally received my refund for the full purchase price on 1/3/2024. By my count, that’s 74 days, all told, since the fridge broke back on October 22, 2023.

A Sea of One-star Reviews

I’m not alone in my estimation of the service I received. On Yelp, National Repair Center currently (as of 12/04/2023) has one star on thirty-seven reviews. On Better Business Bureau, they have one star on eighteen reviews. I haven’t reviewed them on either of these sites yet, but I might, just to add one more voice to the chorus.

This was my extra fridge, and it’s my goal to be transparent about my privilege in this regard. It would have been even worse if this had been my only refrigerator. Does Samsung expect people who purchase their refrigerators to live out ice chests for months while waiting on repairs? What sort of value does such a warranty add? Not much, if you ask me.

The Future

My Kafkaesque adventures with Samsung and National Repair Center have soured me on both of those companies and, to some extent, on corporations in general. One bright light, so far, has been Lowe’s, from whom we were able to purchase a replacement refrigerator–not a Samsung–in time for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t the model we wanted, but they were able to get it to us on very short notice. Their installer guy was awesome. And I’ve heard nothing but good things about Whirlpool. So, we’ll see how this goes.

As for the Samsung fridge, I had hoped, after the repair, to clean it up and sell it, possibly recouping a bit of the money I’d spent on it. I assumed that, with a new compressor and a new evaporator, it might be effectively brand new and useful to someone, though I no longer trusted it. Since the failure on December 7th, 2023, I decided the only ethical thing to do would be to pay someone to haul it to the dump. Per the terms of the refund, I am not allowed to use or sell the unit. I suppose that means I could give it away. Or I can pay someone to haul it away. In either case, that’s on me. For the moment, it’s still sitting in my garage.

I thank Samsung for eventually refunding the purchase price of the fridge. While it does not cover all of my expenses, much less my frustrations, in this affair, it was the right thing to do. But, all-in-all, it was not enough to restore my trust in their products.

Advice

If you find yourself in a similar situation, with Samsung or any other appliance company, here’s what I’d recommend:

  1. Record your Calls
    Check the laws in your state. In general–keep in mind I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice–if one party tells you they’re recording the call, you also have the right to record it. Don’t be sneaky about it. Tell them, on the recording, that you’re also recording it. It adds a certain seriousness to the call when they know you’re keeping a copy. Your setup doesn’t have to be elaborate. I simply put my iPhone on speaker, sat it on my MacBook Pro, and used the Voice Memos app to record both sides of the conversation.
  2. Document Everything
    Keep track of the dates, of how much time has passed, of all texts, appointments, conversations, etc. Don’t delete anything.
  3. Study the Warranty
    You don’t have to be a legal scholar. Such documents are tedious but generally understandable. Knowing the details helps.
  4. Network
    There’s strength (and solidarity!) in numbers. Find others who’ve had similar problems. Reach out on social media. The UNamed Broken Appliance Group was invaluable to me in seeing that this was, in fact, a defective product, that there are laws which pertain to such situations, and that recording calls is easy and useful. I already had a tendency to document things, so I had that in my favor from the start. But I wish I’d recorded every call.
  5. Know the Law
    Read up on the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act. Consumer protections in the US aren’t as extensive as they are in many other developed countries, but there are some useful laws in effect. This is one of them. Also read up on your state’s lemon laws.
  6. Don’t Give Up
    Keep your cool, but be persistent. As with any sort of insurance or warranty claim, the length and tedium of the process gives you multiple opportunities to give up. I am a pessimist, in general, but I made this a pet project and decided I wasn’t going to give up. Persistence doesn’t always pay off. In this case, it did.

This is likely the most tedious thing I’ve ever written. If you’ve read it all the way to its conclusion, I can assume you’re either a big fan of my writing or you are facing a similar situation. In the case of the former, I thank you. If it’s the latter, I wish you, as David Foster Wallace used to say, “way more than luck.”