Looking for a good printer? I hope this story will help you buy better. In fact, maybe it will help you buy other things better too. This is the story of my Samsung CLX-3175FN multifunction printer/fax/scanner/copier…
For years, after working in the Special Education library and preparing materials for teachers, I had a dream of having my own copier. When our last printer broke down after three years of good service, we said it was time to get a multifunction device and save space and energy. So we searched for the best product for our small business. You see, Gal and I learned that when you buy a product, you need to buy it from a good source (we call it “a product with parents”) so you can get someone to fix it if something goes wrong.
Gal went to the biggest office equipment stores and found out Samsung had revamped their service offering by adding on-site repairs and a replacement policy for faulty products. He was told “They’ll just send someone to your house to fix the printer, but if they can’t fix it, they’ll replace it”.
So in November 2008, feeling we were buying something with “good parents” we bought a brand new Samsung CLX-3170FN printer/scanner/fax/copier. And we thought it was great.
Alas, our happiness was short-lived.
As we installed the printer, it destroyed our ADSL line splitter. At first, we thought there was something wrong with the splitter, so we got a new one, but after the third one “died” on us within two weeks, we decided to call Samsung Customer Service. They did not really help, claiming their fax was designed to work within the specifications of a voice line and they made no guarantees about ADSL. Gal had to be in contact with our service provider to find the splitter that would survive the problem and bought the top-of-the-line splitter, which seemed to work OK.
About a month later, I was in the middle of a call with a potential client and the line suddenly became silent. When the client rang again (how embarrassing), he said there were fax noises on his side of the line. Our fax had decided to start working.
We called Samsung Customer Service and they spent several hours telling us there must be a problem in our house. After getting nowhere with them and hearing them say, “Sorry Mam” a million times and repeat their company policies, they asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mam?” They have nerve to ask this after doing nothing for me in the first place!
We found out we had spent full day of work trying to get Samsung’s support, so we have decided to give up and switched the fax to manual. But after another two weeks, pages started coming out with a thin black line along the page. Again, we called Samsung, the guy on the phone asked me politely to open the machine, take out “the large green thing”, clean it and put it back in.
What do you know? The black lines disappeared! I was so happy, but after hanging up and printing about 20 pages, it appeared again.
As a business, we could not afford to send printed material like this, so we outsourced it to a great little business solutions company (God bless Tara) and the real Samsung torture began.
For about six months, I was on the phone with Samsung for hours on end. It was amazing to be dragged for such a long time and often to be put on hold and have to listen to Samsung’s self-promotion saying how wonderful their customer service and their technology are. Every time, they told me to clean “the large green thing”, until one day, I got sick and tired of this I asked to them come and fix it. I had to go through a tedious escalation process until someone could give the instruction to the repair contractor to come and fix our printer.
Two days later, a nice guy appeared, checked the printer and said, “I would need to replace every part in this machine, so I’m going to ask for an exchange instead. Samsung will give you a call shortly”.
We waited a day, two days, three days, four days and nothing happened. We called Samsung Customer Service and asked, “Where is the replacement?” and they said, “Sorry, but our policy says that the contractor needs to attempt to fix the printer three times before we send a replacement”.
“Why three times?”
“That’s our policy”.
“But he’s tested the machine and the cost of the parts would be higher than the price of a new printer”.
“Sorry Mam…” (Talk to the wall).
So after another week, another guy appeared with all the parts that needed replacing. He swapped everything but the plastic cover and the printer still printed thin black lines where there should have been none. He said, “This model’s had many problems. We replace everything and something is still wrong. I think it’s a bad batch, because the newer ones are OK. I will ask again for a replacement”.
Except for Samsung, this was only the second visit. It took another three weeks until the third visit took place. During that time, when talked with Samsung on the phone for hours, trying to convince them it was a waste of money, time and energy, but it did not change their mind. When the technician finally came, he felt abused himself, apologized for our inconvenience, replaced some parts that were unrelated to our problems and said, “Now that I’ve come for the third time, I will ask for your replacement and they should deliver it”.
We waited again – a day, two days, three days, four days and nothing happened. We called Samsung and ask them where our replacement printer was and they told us the request for replacement had to go to a special board that meets once every few weeks. So we waited. Nothing happened. WE called again and they said, “Sorry, your request for replacement was declined”.
I have to say it was hard to stay calm. And what was I supposed to do? All that time, we had been paying for quality printing, spending time and effort organizing printing jobs, begging for people to scan our material and looking at draft papers with thin black lines through them.
Gal got on the phone and went ballistic in their ears, escalating until a person finally seemed to understand what was going on and promised to take care of our case.
The board said they would approve the exchange as a special case and Gal and I were so happy we would finally have a working printer, but we waited and waited and nothing happened. We called Samsung again and they told us, “You can get your money back or get another printer”.
Gal and I thought about it. We had cartridges that cost as much as the printer at home. We actually liked the printer model and thought that one was probably just a “lemon”. The technicians said the newer batch was better. So we said we would take a new printer. The Customer “Care” person assigned to help us said she would arrange it. We waited, waited, waited and waited again and nothing happened. We called Samsung again and she said, “Sorry Sir (luckily Gal talked to them sometimes, because I had lost my temper completely by then), we don’t have it in stock. You will have to wait 4 weeks”.
We took a deep breath.
On 21 August 2009 – 9 months (!) after we bought the printer with not even one day of smooth use out of it, a person came in into our house with a new printer – CLX 3175FN. We went out to celebrate. It worked perfectly. It still tried to receive faxes in the middle of calls on Automatic, but we were happy. At last, we could print, fax, scan and copy immediately and our costs, hassle time and frustration dropped too.
But our joy lasted only 4 months. In January 2010, the machine stopped scanning.
We took a deep breath, called Samsung again and, after keeping me on the phone for an hour, the polite man told me, “Your printer is out of warranty, because when we exchange a product, it inherits the original warranty”.
“You have wasted 9 months of my warranty on the first printer, while I couldn’t use it and you gave me a new one without the warranty?! Had we taken the money and bought a new printer, it would come with 12 months of warranty!”
The man was very polite and told me this was Samsung’s policy and I could write a complaint and fax it to the Samsung Resolution team if I wanted.
“How would you like me to do that, SIR? My fax isn’t working”, I asked him, doing my best to be polite.
He apologized again and said, “You can only send a fax to the resolution team”. No matter what I said, he just kept saying, “Here is the fax number of the resolution team”. Of course, at the way of our conversation, he also asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you Mam?”
So I sat down and wrote a letter to the resolution team asking them to give me back the 9 months of warranty they had wasted and got someone to fax it on 25 January from work (shhh, don’t tell).
I called after a month. Another nice man checked and said, “The fax is here. I am sure someone will call you back in the next day or two”. At the end of the conversation, he also asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you Mam?”
I waited some more.
Two weeks later, Gal called again and asked the nice operator who kept repeating the same things again like a parrot to escalate. He spent over 2 hours on the phone, told our whole story to 3 different people, who all started by telling him about the Samsung policy, until finally, a second-level manager said, “I think you’re right. Let me take this to the person who can make a decision and I’ll get back to you next Wednesday”.
Two Wednesdays passed and no one called. Gal called again, asked for the person by name and requested an escalation to the next level. The third-level manager started to explain why our request had been rejected, but clearly had no knowledge of what the details were, so Gal told her. Again. From the beginning. Have you noticed that when you deal with customer service, every time you tell the story, you skip parts because you are sick and tired hearing yourself saying it over and over again? In the end, the polite woman said to Gal, “Samsung can’t extend your warranty”, as if there was some law against it, and told him we could complain to the authorities.
The most devastating thing was that when Gal contacted the authorities, the nice man on the phone told him that since there was no indication on the warranty paper how long it would take to fix or replace the printer, and since they did not state an exchange carried additional warranty, there was nothing illegal in Samsung’s actions and he could not help.
We had already suffered a year and a half of lost time, spent energy, additional costs, heartache and embarrassment, not to mention we had lost our belief that the term “service” meant “within a reasonable time” (not 9 months).
Samsung behaved the way they did (still do) only because they could. As customers, we need to stop them from this abuse.
To make sure it will not happen to others, please pass this post on to your friends and family.