What’s with this blacklisted Samsung phone? And where’s my refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Jay Makda has a blacklisted Samsung phone. What does that mean, and why won’t Samsung give him a refund?


I participated in the Samsung Galaxy S8 trade-in program last summer. The terms were to purchase a Samsung Galaxy S8 and trade in an eligible device to receive a $200 discount.

I traded in a working, older Samsung Galaxy in good condition with the phone turning on and screen working. In fact, I went ahead and purchased a new battery for the phone as well. I called Samsung and verified that my trade-in would be eligible for the $200 discount.

Unfortunately, much to my disappointment, Samsung sent me an email in September and told me that I would only recieve $25 for my trade-in. They said the phone did not meet the following conditions: “Not Blacklisted.”

So Samsung only gave me $25 for my trade-in.

I called Samsung’s customer service department. After a 45-minute hold, I spoke with a representative, who told me this was a known computer error. She created a ticket number and promised it would be “escalated” to a supervisor.

Still, the charge showed up on my credit card bill. I called Samsung again and a representative promised a call back from a supervisor. Needless to say, no one has called me back. Samsung has really disappointed me. Can you help? — Jay Makda, Chicago


If Samsung promised you a refund and you met all of its requirements, you should have received one.

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But did you meet all of its requirements? I reviewed the terms of your trade-in, and it was pretty specific. The returned phone had to be in “good” condition, which it defines as powering on, holding a charge, having a functioning display, no breaks or cracks and “is not on a black list of any kind.” When a consumer reports their Samsung phone lost or stolen, it becomes blacklisted.

Is a blacklisted Samsung phone a stolen one too?

Apparently, they thought you had a blacklisted Samsung phone, thanks to a glitch of some kind. Except, you were the rightful owner.

A phone call should have cleared this up. Instead, Samsung left you on “hold” for almost an hour, bounced you around between representatives and then ignored you. I don’t see how this would “inspire the world” or “create the future,” in line with Samsung’s vision statement. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s dispiriting and paints a dark picture of the future where promises can be made and broken. (Related: My ABS actuator failed! Why won’t Toyota fix it?)

You could have contacted one of Samsung’s customer service executives. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site Elliott.org. I also have a complete guide to a Samsung refund that you might find helpful. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

Your case seemed to get lost along with hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of others like it. On a separate note, I’m concerned that Samsung would just keep a phone it suspected of being stolen. Why not turn you over to law enforcement if it suspected you gadget was blacklisted?

Problem solved

It took a while, but after I contacted Samsung on your behalf, it issued the full $175 refund.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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