Samsung's response fails to satisfy users

Updated: 2013-10-24 23:48

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Company apologizes for inadequate after-sales service reported by CCTV

Electronics maker Samsung apologized on Wednesday to consumers in China after China Central Television criticized the South Korean company for its after-sales service and its failure to fix glitches in several of its smartphone models.

Samsung (China) Investment Co Ltd issued the apology in response to CCTV reports earlier this week that seven smartphones models under the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S3 series were constantly crashing or malfunctioning. It also reported on Monday and Tuesday that consumers in China were charged high repair fees and that Samsung said it would provide free maintenance for several of its smartphone models.

The apology from Samsung comes months after its rival Apple Inc apologized for its warranty policies.

Samsung said in a statement on Wednesday that it will repair the seven smartphones models under the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S3 series for free if consumers find serious malfunctions.

China Daily discovered, however, that the company has not made good on its guarantees. Phone calls to 10 of its 17 customer service centers in Shanghai revealed that free maintenance is not provided.

"We have yet to be informed of the company's offer for free repairs. We've received dozens of phone calls from customers inquiring about the service today but they still need to pay for the repairs for now," said a repairman surnamed Zhang at a Samsung customer service center on Huangxing Road in Yangpu district.

In its statement on Wednesday, Samsung also said that for "consumers who have already paid for maintenance of mobile phones of the models mentioned, Samsung will offer a full refund for the maintenance fee."

The company also guaranteed consumers in China a free replacement if a mobile phone fails to work after two attempts to repair it and extended the warranty period for the seven models of smartphones produced before Nov 30, 2012, for another year. The original warranty period was a year.

When China Daily anonymously approached a customer service center on East Nanjing Road in Huangpu district in Shanghai, a request for a refund was turned down.

"You can register your information with us, but the specific solution for a refund will come out in November," said the customer service executive, who declined to give her name.

Samsung did not answer calls from China Daily as of press time on Thursday.

The company's smartphones became overnight sensations on the Chinese mainland last year, helping the company to achieve a sales volume of more than 30 million to become the country's top smartphone seller. Its market share last year was nearly 18 percent, compared to 11 percent for Apple, according to Strategy Analytics, a market research firm in the United States.

But over the past year, an increasing number of consumers in China have complained that their Samsung phones crash frequently after several months of use. Many said they are dissatisfied with the company's response to its malfunctioning phones.

"I spent 800 yuan ($132) to have my I9300 (a model in the Galaxy S3 series) repaired last week after it turned to a dead brick. But where can I claim the refund?" asked Xu Houyao, a 26-year-old white-collar worker in Shanghai.

Consumers also said they had to pay for repairs even within the warranty period.

"What's ridiculous is the prices in authorized maintenance centers are different and are negotiable," said Cai Mengsha, who was initially charged 960 yuan but paid 700 yuan for repairs to her mobile phone at a store in Shanghai's Xuhui district.

In CCTV's reports this week, it said the smartphones crash because of a faulty memory chip and claimed that the company's customer service policies are different from in other countries and regions.

Consumers in Britain, Japan and Hong Kong can have their products repaired for free, CCTV claimed.

"The electronics giant showed a lack of integrity and commercial ethics toward the consumers on the Chinese mainland and it clearly violates the country's laws and regulations," said Qiu Baochang, head of the legal team of the China Consumers' Association.

"If the company doesn't change their practices, the industrial and commercial administrative agencies can punish it according to the Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights and Interests."