Samsung's woes continue as customers complain about Note7 exchange and refund process in Singapore

An advertisement on the Samsung Galaxy Note7 is seen at the Samsung Experience Store store in Ang Mo Kio Hub on Sept 2, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Samsung's fight to retain its customers continues even after its Galaxy Note7 phone model was permanently discontinued on Oct 11.

The latest debacle surrounds its exchange and refund procedures, which were announced on Oct 18 in Singapore.

Since the procedures began on Oct 26, numerous customers have taken to the Samsung Mobile Singapore Facebook page to complain about not getting their refunds or exchanges on time or at all.

However, there were also customers who shared their positive experiences during the refund/exchange process.

Production of Samsung's latest flagship device was halted just two months after its launch - the first time this has happened for any phone company.

The move came after several reports of the phone emitting smoke or catching fire in the United States, South Korea and Australia.

Tens of thousands of customers in Singapore had earlier exchanged their faulty Note7 devices for replacement sets as part of the global recall of 2.5 million handsets.

However, the same problems persisted even with the replacement sets.

Samsung later warned customers on Oct 11 to stop using the Note7 altogether due to unresolved fire concerns, before making the unprecedented decision to scrap the phone.

Note7 customers were then offered two choices by Samsung: a refund of $1,168, the retail price of the phone, or swop their phones for the S7 edge phone and get a $250 cheque.

Customers were to indicate their preferred option and arrange for a delivery appointment on the company's website from Oct 26 to Nov 6.

They were also asked to provide their details for a free home delivery so their Note7 could be picked up in addition to their getting a refund or a replacement Galaxy S7 edge.

However, customers wrote in to the company's Facebook page to bemoan their experiences.

As of 4.30pm on Sunday (Nov 6), there were more than 1,000 comments in reply to Samsung Mobile Singapore's Facebook post about the process.

While some praised the phone company for a hassle-free experience, most of the comments were complaints.

Some users mentioned that they faced problems registering on the website, while others were unhappy that their choice of colour for the S7 edge was unavailable. Others had issues with the delivery process.

A user, Kin Fai, said his scheduled delivery did not take place during the arranged time. He said he was told the delivery man was just a "delivery contractor" and "not Samsung".

In response to the delays, Samsung in a comment said it was "sorry" and working with "home delivery service providers to deliver on time".

It also highlighted that "our delivery personnel may have been delayed by traffic and weather conditions, or customers who require further assistance".

Student Wesley Chan, 23, has two Note7 phones that he wishes to obtain refunds for. Even though he had received confirmation via e-mail for a 6pm to 10pm timeslot on Saturday, nobody came to his house during the scheduled time.

There was no answer when he tried to call the Samsung hotline and a check on Samsung Mobile Singapore's Facebook page showed that many others also faced the same situation.

He received two or three personal messages from the Samsung Facebook team asking if he had been contacted by customer service. However, he had not been contacted.

"There is a lack of communication, I have no idea what's going on and feel frustrated," he said.

"I understand this crisis is a big one and they would have to get third-party logistics company to manage the deliveries, but I think the instructions were not passed on properly to the logistic company," he added.

He felt the company should have given customers the option of making the exchange at a collection station, rather than relying on home deliveries.

When contacted by The Straits Times, Samsung said that it was "sorry that a handful of customers have experienced delayed or missed deliveries". It also mentioned that "there are incidents of personnel from our home delivery service provider who have collected the Galaxy S7 edge meant for delivery to exchange customers but who are now uncontactable. This has resulted in serious disruptions to our delivery schedules."

Samsung explained that the home delivery service provider "may be delayed by traffic and weather conditions, or customers who require further assistance such as data transfer", and as "the delivery personnel is on the road, we may not be able to contact them immediately to check if the deliveries are on schedule."

Samsung added that it is "reaching out to customers with missed deliveries at the end of each delivery day to reschedule their delivery" and reminded Note7 customers to "back up their data using Samsung Smart Switch".

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