What should Samsung do for its nervous Note 7 customers? This.

As Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 problems take a turn for the worse, customers are facing new fears—and some have even encountered unexpected fees—in their efforts to find a safer smartphone.

Samsung recalled its newest phablet last month because of a defective battery that’s prone to spontaneously combust, offering an exchange or refund and a $25 gift certificate. Then several replacement units reportedly caught fire, too. Samsung “temporarily” halted production of the beleaguered handset on Monday and made it permanent today.

Now, nervous Note 7 owners are wondering what to do next. The short answer: Get a new phone—soon. A path to a refund or exchange is relatively easy. Customer service experts say this episode, as bad as it is, is an opportunity for Samsung to either win over their users or to lose face.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist. Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

“Fix the customer”

It’s not that Samsung hasn’t taken steps. “They apologized and they offered to fix the problem,” says customer service consultant Shep Hyken. But this crisis goes beyond replacing a faulty phone.

“They not only need to fix the problem with the phones,” he says. “They need to fix the customer.”

Consider Travis Grammer, an early adopter of the Note 7 who pre-ordered his phone Aug. 19. and received it a month later. Grammer, who works for an insurance company in Cape Girardeau, Mo., paid $879 for the smartphone and says it’s a “great device.” But when he heard about the recall, which Samsung claims affected only 0.1 percent of all devices, he immediately returned to Best Buy, where he’d purchased the Note 7.

“They were ill-equipped to handle the exchanges,” he says, noting that employees seemed to discourage exchanges and downplay the significance of the recall. As a result, he says, he’s lost trust in Samsung and will ask for a full refund.

“I’m now trying to determine what my next device will be and how quickly I can order it,” he adds.

According to Best Buy spokesman Shane Kitzman, “customers can visit a Best Buy store to return or exchange their Note 7 for a different phone of their choice.” In the meantime, Best Buy has stopped selling the Note 7.

That’s not the only option. Customers can also ask the manufacturer for a refund or exchange, or get a replacement device from their wireless carrier.

Soan’nae Watts upgraded from a Samsung Note 3 to a Note 7 on the day the new phone was released last summer. “I love my Note 7,” she says. But Watts, who works for an educational training company in Atlanta, says she’s worried that the replacement phone she picked up could catch fire, possibly injuring her daughter, who sometimes uses the phone, too.

“I think Samsung should offer a comparable phone,” she adds, “But there is no comparable phone to the Note 7.”

Surprise fees for exchanges

When Felix Paraon tried to exchange the Note 7 he’d purchased from T-Mobile, he says, the company charged him a “return fee” of $15 and a “customer service” fee of $20. Paraon, who works for a semiconductor company in Carson, Calif., says that while he loves the Note 7, he’s put off by T-Mobile’s fees.

“They told us to return the phone,” he points out.

Still, Paraon plans to keep the new Note 7, which so far hasn’t exhibited any of the behavior of the recalled units.

“I leave it charged all day while playing apps and it doesn’t get as hot as what all these people claim,” he says.

T-Mobile this weekend said it had “temporarily” suspended sales of the Note 7 and that it would issue a $25 credit to users who exchanged their phones. According it its website, it does not charge any restocking or upgrade fees.

What Samsung should do

Customer service experts say Samsung isn’t doing enough to help customers.

“Replacements and mea culpas are not sufficient,” says Chip Bell, author of Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. Samsung needs to add a list of other perks by way of an apology. “How about a gift catalog that lets the aggrieved customer pick their own symbolic atonement?” he asks.

Samsung did not respond to questions about the circumstances of its latest recall, its plans to halt manufacturing the Note 7, or any additional compensation it might offer customers who own a Note 7.

“Clearly, Samsung has to provide devices to customers that do not spontaneously combust,” says customer service expert Jay Baer, author of the book Hug Your Haters. “However, since the replacement devices are also now catching fire, telling consumers, ‘Trust us, this third one is perfectly fine,’ stretches the boundaries of believability.”

Instead, Samsung should offer a competitors’ device of equivalent size and functionality. That would go a long way to reassuring fearful customers.

“The goodwill they would gain back from a move like that would be enormous,” Baer says.

There might be some middle ground when it comes to compensation, Baer suggests. Samsung could offer a $600 coupon code for any Samsung-branded device or appliance as a way of saying “we’re sorry.” So far, Samsung’s best offer is a full refund and gift certificate, but that shouldn’t stop an unhappy Note 7 customer from asking.

Is Samsung doing enough for its Note 7 customers?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

9 thoughts on “What should Samsung do for its nervous Note 7 customers? This.

  1. Replace them all with new iPhone 7’s. 🙂

    What else can they do since they do not appear to be able to actually fix the issue of the phone bursting into flames.

  2. “When Felix Paraon tried to exchange the Note 7 he’d purchased from T-Mobile, he says, the company charged him a “return fee” of $15 and a “customer service” fee of $20. Paraon, who works for a semiconductor company in Carson, Calif., says that while he loves the Note 7, he’s put off by T-Mobile’s fees.”

    This sounds like a 3rd-party retailer with the T-Mobile logo over the door, as opposed to an actual T-Mobile corporate store. That’s not to say that T-Mobile shouldn’t keep a closer leash on their “retail partners”, just that it’s probably not T-Mobile itself imposing these bogus fees.

    1. That’s why, whenever I have an issue/question with my Verizon phone, I go to corporate Verizon store and not a 3rd party retailer.

  3. As a side note, phones have caught fire on aircraft for the last several years and it’s not limited to Samsung phones. On average, its been one to two times a month. All major carriers have, and if they don’t I’d question their safety model, procedures for dealing with phones smoking or catching fire. Usually a packet, sand, etc. You don’t use water. As with the Samsung phones, it’s the Li-on batteries. This all gained attention with the loss of two 747 cargo jets and their crews a few years ago that caught fire while carrying shipments of the batteries. Samsung is getting bad press, and deservedly so for the most part, but I’d never assume that all other phones were immune. It’s also why shipments of the batteries are not allowed on pax aircraft and why one should never pack a phone in checked luggage.

  4. Samsung is acting perfectly ethically and legally in offering a full refund plus a $25 “gift certificate.” I don’t know if that $25 is good only on Samsung products of for anything, like a prepaid visa card. They also must guarantee no return fees, even from independent sellers. The only argument people can validly make is more than the $25 or making it useful for any product, even a competitor’s phone.

  5. Best Buy are sneaky, loathesome dirtbags. They lie, sell you used stuff as “new”. I once debarred them from doing business with my agency because of several ILLEGAL things they did. I did it for the same reason a dog scratches behind his ears – because I COULD! In one instance, they refused to hand over a device which was suspected of being a host for information it should not have had on it. When our guy showed up to get it for examination, they refused to turn it over. So, he left, and returned with two HUGE US Marshalls, and seized the device. Buh-bye!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: