Will Samsung buy back my broken refrigerator? It said it would

Debbie Winsett wants Samsung to honor a verbal offer to “buy back” her five-year-old refrigerator that stopped working. But the offer was an error. Is this appliance buyback doomed?

Question: My five-year-old Samsung refrigerator has failed. There is no local service for the product. The closest service vendor that will work on Samsung refrigerators is 90 miles away, and they did not want to service it without us paying high fees for their travel. The authorized dealer would not even offer a quote to repair the unit until we paid travel fees.

I contacted Samsung to get help. A representative finally promised to buy the refrigerator back for $807 and told me to send in the paperwork. I did, and Samsung confirmed the receipt.

I asked how soon I would get the payment and was told accounting would call me to arrange for the method of payment.

I had to buy a new refrigerator, since we had been living out of a very small one in the garage for three months. But now Samsung has reneged on its offer. A representative has told me that the offer was an error because the refrigerator was out of warranty.

I need the money to help pay for the new fridge.

I think Samsung should honor its commitment, which is documented in the phone call. Can you help me? — Debbie Winsett, Visalia, Calif.

Answer: If Samsung promised to buy back your refrigerator, then it should. Granted, it’s a little unusual — perhaps even an error — for a manufacturer to buy back a five-year-old household appliance, but a promise is a promise. This one’s on Samsung.

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Most Samsung refrigerators come with a five-year warranty on the compressor, evaporator, condenser, drier and connecting tubing. (You can find more information on the company’s warranties on its site.) So it’s easy to see how a mistake like this could happen. If the representative believed your refrigerator was under warranty or the parts were covered, you would have been OK. Otherwise, you would have been on your own.

But see, that’s the thing with warranties. The manufacturer makes the rules; the manufacturer can also bend the rules. Look at the big picture: Samsung offers these guarantees because it wants you to have confidence in its products. The warranty is designed to reassure you that its appliances won’t break down after just a few months, or years.

If ever there was a case of a warranty that should have been extended in the interest of good customer service, this is it.

It looks as if you appealed to the Samsung customer service executives listed on my consumer advocacy site. Nice work. Those executives were empowered to resolve this, and should have. Instead, they appear to have doubled down on their “no.”

That’s not good service, Samsung.

In a situation like this, the company needs to either play you the recordings of your conversation to prove that you remembered the promise incorrectly, or it needs to get busy doing the right thing. Samsung chose door number two after my advocacy team contacted it. It cut you a check for $807, as agreed.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

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