About three weeks back I posted about the premature failure of the Samsung plasma TV that I had previously raved about. Five weeks from new to dead is no one's idea of good quality, but it did give me a chance to see Samsung's customer support and warranty response in action, so worth a somewhat belated write-up.
I'd rate Samsung's customer support line at C+. Short hold time and a polite agent. Started out with the usual brain dead script - "Is the little red light on?" ("Have you got it plugged in, you idiot?") After being convinced that it really was toast, she then guided us to finding the serial number in the least accessible location possible, and mis-transcribed it when entering the warranty claim. Things did get better from there, however, as Samsung seems to have implemented a pretty efficient e-mail based CRM and incident tracker, that told us what was happening.
Things also got better when we were handed over to the local warranty repair affiliate, TV Unlimited of Sunnyvale. The followup call was ahead of promised schedule. Since I'd been watching the TV when it failed, I was able to give a good description of the symptoms. The technician I was talking to was familiar with the model, and opined that it might be one of two circuit boards or, at worst, the panel itself. The two possible boards were ordered so the initial service call might also result in a fix.
Cycle time from that conversation to an on-site service call was a week. Not great, not hideous. Certainly better than some of the waiting-for-parts horror stories documented on the net for other brands or earlier Samsung efforts. I got to see the current state of field TV repair: board swaps, just like computers and everything else these days. Unfortunately, the worst fears were true and it was the plasma panel itself that was fried (perhaps arcing somewhere inside the assembly). Back into the queue for a parts wait for a 50" plasma panel.
That also turned out to be a week, making me think the time is characteristic of Samsung's replacement part pull-through logistics. You probably won't do worse, you're not likely to do better. I got to see the TV completely eviscerated on the living room floor - or maybe it was an organ transplant since the case and half the circuit boards of the original TV were all that ended up in the 'repaired' set. Which fortunately started right up and has been running well through the bowl game season. From initial call to final fix, the process was two weeks.
Overall, I give the process a 'B'. Room for improvement, but fairly predictable and doing well on continuing contact and status updates once the process was started. Of course, I also have to knock a star off my initial five star opinion of the product, since failure at five weeks after installation reflects quality issues and does not make for a happy customer. I'll likely buy Samsung products in the future, but only after careful checking on reliability reports from previous buyers.