An Update from Hell

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It turns out Samsung follows their twitter, so they found my ranting about their service. This is my reply to the nice Samsung lady who reached out and said she would love to help. Apparently, my file is going to be reviewed by Corporate and a “decision on how to proceed will be made within three business days.” Oh, goody. I can hardly wait.

 

Hi Nice Samsung Lady (whose name I won’t mention),

Many thanks for reaching out. I have been wildly disappointed by the process I have been put through by Samsung. The plot so far is set out in my Blog (http://thinkjudd.com/2015/05/01/technology/this-is-samsung-welcome-to-hell/). Subsequently, I have had several more conversations, totaling about another hour of my time wasted.

I gave up on your team being able to find your own 700 reference number to allow you to move this to the refund team. So, I called the service company myself and obtained the essential number. I then gave it to your team, but they were unable (or unwilling) to read the paperwork which I scanned and sent over (attached for your interest). I even included an enlarged scan of the receipt portion. Your team then went on to tell me, in clear terms, that they needed a copy of the till receipt. I pointed out that Home Depot doesn’t issue them; rather, they print the till details on the large sale doc in the top right corner. Surely your guys should know this?

Nonetheless, this still isn’t good enough. So, tonight on my way home, I will divert to my local Home Depot to ask for (and hopefully receive) a “purge document” (whatever that is) to convince your doubting team that I really paid for the fridge. Assuming I get that proof, I confidently expect to be delayed and annoyed by the refund process, and I expect not to receive the full amount in refund.

So far, I have amassed action numbers 412-998-9370, 511-1362-271, 511-137-1308, 413-015-8046, 511-137-7475 and finally 413-0158-046. Oh, and the vital 7001431338. You can figure at least two phone calls per number, at about 20 minutes each, so I’ve wasted about 3 hours of my time trying to resolve this.

Do you have any idea how this makes your gigantic corporation look? I run a company, and if I found this level of bureaucracy and incompetence, I would be firing people by now. The sad fact is that almost everyone I have dealt with has been pleasant and down-right nice in many cases (only Julio really got up my nose). You clearly train well, but your process is broken.

When there was any doubt that it might not be a warranty repair, you were ruthless in insisting over and over that I would have to pay for the visit and parts. When it became clear that this was entirely down to you and covered 100% by warranty, you raised delay after delay: the 700 number, the receipt, the illegible receipt, etc. At no point did you ever call me back when I lost signal on a couple of calls. You never called me back with an update or status. Every time I have to start over in the process, it’s a “Groundhog Day” of customer support. You can’t call it service.

It was not our fault that your top-of-the-line refrigerator we purchased a little over a year ago is faulty and unbelievably entirely beyond repair. Yet, your process and the hurdles you put in the way makes it feel like you think we are trying to cheat you. We obviously aren’t. This is a massive inconvenience and one still not resolved. The irony (if irony is the right word) is that last weekend, we were back at Home Depot ordering new appliances for a kitchen upgrade. This time LG got our disposable dollars.

There is still an opportunity for this to end well, or better in any event. You should, at the very least, circulate a copy of my blog and this note to your customer support management. Better yet, run a simulation. Come collect my broken fridge and put it in the home of Gregory Lee (Samsung US CEO) and have him live without a fridge freezer while your company fumbles around for three weeks.

Fingers Crossed for Apple Tomorrow… We Need a Cool New Toy

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This Tuesday, Apple launches their highly anticipated live event. Many have speculated what is set to be revealed this year, as Apple has been rumored to make a splash in the wearable technology market with the so-called “iWatch.”

Most analysts believe such a device is coming, releasing a smartwatch now would mirror Apple’s strategy in the MP3-player market, where the company waited for a few smaller players to release devices and then went on to dominate the market with its own higher-end product.

Should Apple announce an iWatch this week, the company will likely also unveil a release date a little later in the year so as to coincide with the holiday shopping season. However some analysts believe Apple may postpone the iWatch announcement altogether, allowing it to stagger its big announcements and keep this week’s focus squarely on its new phones.

Beyond the traditional improvements Apple tends to make with every new generation of hardware, the defining feature of the products expected to be unveiled this week will almost certainly be screen size. The above photo is one of many rumored prototypes of a new iPhone, including a bigger screen than the traditional iPhone size. For years, Apple refused to alter the screen size of its flagship device.

In recent years, top rivals of Apple such as Samsung have proven that there exists a market for phones with larger screens. It is unlikely that Apple will release anything as large as the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega, or the 7” Galaxy W, but analysts expect Apple to unveil two new types of iPhone – one with a 4.7-inch screen and the other with a 5.5-inch screen. Both would be larger than the most recent, 4-inch iteration of the smartphone.

Since the iPhone morphed from a revolutionary new product into a consumer mainstay several years ago, Apple launch events have largely focused on new tools and services for the hardware, rather than the hardware itself. This week’s event will likely be no exception, as Apple executives are expected to spend a lot of time talking about various cloud-based services – most notably, a new wireless payment standard that will allow iPhone users to make purchases simply by swiping their devices past terminals at the checkout. Many Apple rivals, including BlackBerry, have spent considerable energy on similar wireless payment models, but Apple’s entry is likely to shake up the technology, which has not yet taken off in a big way in North America.

But Apple’s promotion of cloud-based services is likely to prove a little tricky after an embarrassing black eye last week. In a high-profile incident the company has yet to fully explain, numerous celebrities saw their iCloud accounts hacked and intimate photos and other content stolen and distributed across the Internet. The hacking incident reignited a debate about the security of the infrastructure in which Apple users store everything from multimedia to credit-card numbers. As such, Apple executives will now almost certainly have to dedicate some time during this week’s presentation to reassure current and potential customers that their data are safe in the Apple cloud.

California Law is Requiring Smart Phones to Have Anti-theft Features

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On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill requiring anti-theft features to be built into new phones and automatically turned on. People who have their phones stolen would be able to remotely lock them and erase their data, making the devices worthless targets.

The law, which goes into effect in July of next year, is a big victory for anti-crime advocates who had complained that smartphone makers like Apple didn’t do enough to help their customers fend off theft. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, had publicly criticized the industry for failing to strengthen security after phone theft became epidemic in San Francisco.

California is the first state to require the technology to be turned on by default. Earlier this year, Minnesota passed a law requiring phone kill switches, but the language did not say that the technology must be automatically enabled. Only when thieves are convinced that stolen phones have no value will they stop swiping them from people walking down the street or on the bus.

The initial kill switch bill, introduced in April by Sen. Mark Leno, of San Francisco, failed to pass in its initial vote. Only after being reintroduced later did it finally pass.

The new law only covers smartphones, and not tablets or laptop computers. Retailers will face a fine of $500 to $2,500 for selling phones without the required technology.

Before the bill signing, major phone manufacturers like Apple, Google and Samsung along with major carriers had opposed legislation by saying it would hurt consumers and potentially open a new avenue for hackers. Instead, they committed to a voluntary program to include technology that would let customers wipe data from stolen phones and disable them. But the companies were under no legal requirement to carry out the program.

Apple, for example, introduced an initiative last year that let users protect their devices through the iOS 7 iCloud Activation Lock feature. During its first six months, thefts of iPhones fells by 38% in San Francisco. Meanwhile, theft of Samsung devices, which had no similar anti-theft technology, rose 12% during that period.

Papering up the Jobs Legacy

The verdict heard round the world was handed down on Friday when Apple won its patent infringement case against Samsung. Its ramifications are going to reach beyond the immediate case (a Billion here or there is no big deal to a company like Samsung with 21Bn in their checking account). If you listen carefully you can hear the attorneys rubbing their hands together in anticipation. We are a mere minnow in the ocean of IP and tech value where the big fish sue the bigger fish but this is likely to send shock waves across the entire space. Software and hardware manufacturers will have to pay Apple or come up with a radically different solution to steer clear of similar threats.

As I have blogged many times in the past mobile is where the future lies, for example I just read a recent report which said that daily deals sites are getting more traffic from mobile devices than desktops already and that trend is going to become stronger over time. Having swung and hit Samsung as hard as they have there are no major cash prizes for guessing that Android is next. Shortly before he died Jobs summoned Brin and Page (the Google founders) to essentially yell at them for copying the Apple iOS with Android. I don’t think they reached a conclusion and Google is certainly unapologetic about the similarities between their baby and the iPhone. No doubt the courts will eventually get round to this too. Given the recent verdict there has to be a good chance Apple will win. That could be calamitous for Google in many ways. The very fact that they might lose will likely shake the market and may strengthen even further Apples hand. Back in the day when Android launched, a key driver for Google to essentially give away the platform was the thinking that eventually the world will be mobile and he who controls the handset will rule the earth. However handsets operate on networks and unless Google buys AT&T or T Mobile (and the might yet) the mere fact that Android devices may be significantly impacted by a verdict against them may well tip the scale towards more networks doing a deal with Apple. That way they aren’t in danger of being left stranded or scrambling to produce a non android non Apple solution. By the way on that point we should expect to see a scramble for exactly that from multiple sources…though how you come up with a competitor to an iPhone which doesn’t impinge on patents as fundamental as two finger zoom is beyond me.

When Jobs died he left a legacy of innovation which has driven our world and has been slavishly copied by many. The Apple team appears to be moving to paper up as much as they possibly can to secure every ounce of value they can from his legacy. Once upon a time leadership in cell phones was seen as a good business opportunity…with the dash to a mobile life underway that leadership is even more important. The much vaunted iPhone 5 is on the wings, a thinner larger more powerful 4G device is already poised to be the biggest launch in phone history. That launch coupled with the uncertainty generated by the Samsung verdict could well jump Apple to an even stronger position as this market accelerates. Can Apple find a new wave of innovation to continue what Jobs started?…who knows….but securing that legacy in the courts may yet win that battle after all.