SINGAPORE - A combination of high demand and system error resulted in some customers experiencing delays in getting their pre-ordered, latest foldable smartphones from Samsung, according to the South Korean electronics giant.
The delays led to disgruntled consumers complaining about the matter.
Customers who pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 handsets that were announced on Aug 11 expected to get them from Sept 2 onwards. The phones were officially launched last Friday (Sept 10).
Some customers who ordered through Samsung's online store were also told they would get the phones on Sept 2 but did not.
Some were informed their gadgets - notably the pricier Fold3 models - would be delayed by a week or more though the pre-ordered phones had already been paid for in full.
The more premium Fold3 foldable phone costs $2,398 to $2,548. It looks like a thick 6.2-inch smartphone but becomes a 7.6-inch tablet when it is unfolded.
The Flip3 costs $1,398 to $1,498 and looks like a regular 6.7-inch smartphone. But it can be folded in half like the clam-shell mobile phones of yore.
Several consumers took their disappointment online, such as on Facebook and the HardwareZone forums.
One issue they brought up was that unlike them, people who ordered the phones elsewhere did not appear to have similar problems.
A check with two telcos and three physical and online retailers - including StarHub, Lazada and Shopee - found that they did not appear to have as many issues with fulfilling pre-orders for customers.
Another thing customers questioned was why some who had their deliveries pushed back got an extended Samsung Care+ warranty-like service as compensation but others did not.
Some, such as human resources consultant Emily Yoon, were so annoyed they cancelled their pre-orders.
Ms Yoon, 39, wanted to buy the $2,400 Fold3 as a gift to herself and was supposed to get it on Sept 2.
But the phone never came and delivery was delayed to between Sept 13 and 19. After getting frustrated with customer service, she cancelled her order.
"I just want this to end and get back my refund so that I can buy another new phone," said Ms Yoon, adding that she is also facing issues with the cancellation.
When contacted, Samsung Electronics Singapore said that "strong pre-order numbers" for the Fold3 5G and Flip3 "exceeded our expectations both locally and globally".
"We are working hard to ensure that all pre-orders are fulfilled as soon as we can," said the phonemaker, adding that it sought customers' patience and understanding.
A report by South Korean news outlet Yonhap said that about 800,000 Fold3 and Flip3 phones were estimated to have been ordered in South Korea.
In Singapore, Samsung said on Sept 3 that the Fold3 had already sold out and the Flip3 was selling fast.
On why some affected customers received the extended Samsung Care+ service but not others, Samsung said that customers who pre-ordered the Fold3 were informed that they may get their devices later in September or October, depending on when they had placed their orders.
"Unfortunately, a system error occurred with a group of customers who received an e-mail notification prematurely that their pre-ordered device would be available for collection on Sept 2," said Samsung. The extended Care+ service is being offered to this group of customers.
The company added that it is reviewing its processes to improve the customer purchase experience to prevent a repeat of the incident.
It will also continue to give regular updates on the expected availability date for pre-orders.