Is Samsung the new Sony? (Samsung’s definition of “Refurbished”)

I purchased a Samsung sound bar from BestBuy.com, because of a ridiculously low price-tag. I ordered on or before Dec. 1, and around Dec. 12th (when I was supposed to have received it) I found that I would not be getting it anytime soon. At that point I realized that I had ordered a refurbished unit and that BestBuy didn’t have any more and would ship me one as soon as they did. (I’m sure the Oompa-Loompa that took my order didn’t get a chance to ask the Oompa-Loompa in charge of inventory whether they had one to sell me – I won’t comment on BestBuy’s downward spiral http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrydownes/2012/01/02/why-best-buy-is-going-out-of-business-gradually/)

I would have canceled my order, but my recent experiences with DirecTV and Apple refurbished products has been surprisingly good, and once I read that this sound bar was “Manufacturer Refurbished” and Samsung ensured that they all meet or exceed their strict standards, etc., I decided to let the order ride.

I got the sound bar two days ago, on January 3. As I pulled each piece out of the box, I was dismayed by how badly the glossy, black lacquer finish was marred with scratches and scuff marks – I can only suspect that this unit must have been a demo in a store and was moved around quite a bit. As I pulled the subwoofer out, I noticed heat damage to two areas, possibly from being too close to a source of heat (other devices?).

I was already going to return that unit based on what I found, but I was curious how well a sound bar actually worked so I set it up. No luck. The bar itself worked, but it could not make a wireless connection to the subwoofer. Instead the subwoofer would sit there and periodically it would emit a loud low frequency hum or rumble for about five minutes or so. I tried a dozen or more times, and the next day, magically, while I was on the phone waiting for a Samsung tech support person, it finally made the connection. Now the subwoofer was playing low frequency sound from the TV, but mixing it with that oh-so-pleasant rumbling sound I mentioned before.

The two Samsung technicians were useless. They both were reading scripts – starting with the steps in the same manual I had in front of me – making me repeatedly power down, reset, power up, mute, reset, power down, … Finally, 37 minutes later, the second technician offers to “get this problem resolved”, if only I go through the steps one more time to make sure we had tried everything (everything being a repeat of the same thing). When we got the same result, and he declares, “thank you for being patient, I apologize that you received a faulty unit, I am going to make sure we resolve this quickly”. He started asking me for my address info, and, hoping they might send me a new unit, or a better refurbished unit, I asked him if they would send me the replacement overnight. He said he could look into doing that, as soon as they got this unit back from me and repaired. I probably snorted at that point. “Are you telling me that after what I told you about the physical damage to this unit, and the trouble we are having, and the fact I already waited a month to get this, you want me to wait while you fix this piece of crap? No thanks.” I asked to speak to a manager, and he transferred me to a line that rang and rang until I gave up and hung up.

I took the unit back to the local BestBuy. I still would like a Samsung sound bar, but I am now wary of Samsung. Their customer service was pathetic. I recall my experiences with Sony products and their subpar support.

Be warned: Samsung’s “refurbished” products are not reliable, nor unblemished.

Also, I have to wonder about all those companies out there who sell refurbished units with warranties with only a fraction of the term of the new product warranty. It doesn’t make me feel very secure knowing that they themselves don’t have faith that their refurbished product will last as long as a new unit.

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~ by mz on January 6, 2012.

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