Kirk Miller’s case against Samsung is compelling. It involves a badly botched repair and a corporation that went into “quiet” mode, as companies do all too well.
But, as much of a slam-dunk as Miller’s case was, it’s also a case study in what happens when a company simply clams up. You’re left with only one recourse. I’ll tell you about it in just a minute.
First, though, let’s scroll back and see what happened to Miller. Late last year, he phoned Samsung because his printer was on the blink. A woman named “JeanC” answered and requested permission to access his computer remotely.
“I agreed,” says Miller. “She looked at my Samsung printer settings, then looked at my Microsoft Word settings. She altered some Word settings and printed a page to test the changes.”
Nothing worked. She tried again — still nothing.
Worse, the changes created new problems with his computer. When he mentioned that, JeanC responded like any well-trained, self-respecting call agent would.
“She hung up on me,” he says.
JeanC had made so many changes to his settings so quickly that Miller lost track of them.
Miller called back and spoke with a representative named “Omar.” (I’m using quotes because reps often use aliases; we don’t know their real names.)
“Omar said that JeanC should not have made any changes to my computer’s Microsoft Word software, and that what she did was against Samsung’s policies,” says Miller. “He said for me to have Microsoft fix the problems that JeanC created.”
Would Samsung pay to have Microsoft fix the problem? No, said Omar.
Miller decided to send Samsung an email outlining the problem. No response. He sent another one. Also ignored.
“I want Samsung to restore my computer to its former working order,” he says.
By the time he contacted our advocacy team, he’d experienced several months of radio silence from Samsung and incurred about $150 in damages. That’s odd, said our advocates. Surely, someone is home at Samsung.
But the case was about to get even odder.
Repeated efforts by our advocacy team yielded exactly the same result as Miller. No one bothered to write back. It was as if his case fell into the proverbial black hole, never to be seen again.
A note to the Black Mirror showrunners — and I know you read this blog — if you need to reach us for any reason about a possible season 4 episode, I’d be happy to help. My consulting rates are reasonable.
You probably have already guessed the outcome. I reluctantly file this as a “Case Dismissed,” but not because it has no merit. Samsung’s silence means only one thing for this victim of misconfigured hardware: He needs to haul the company into small claims court. Samsung probably won’t show up, and he’ll get a default judgment for the hours of time wasted on trying to resolve his screwed-up computer.
But it’s a lesson to the rest of us as well. Don’t grant strangers access to your computer without doing a little due diligence, no matter where they work. They might help you, but they might not. And if they make things worse, you might have only yourself to blame.
Update: I’m very grateful to my colleague Dave Lieber for tag-teaming me on this case. He contacted the company and it helped fix this mess. Here are the details.