I had been a loyal iPhone user from 2008 until early 2013. After careful research, I decided it was time to switch to an Android phone, and the Samsung Note II seemed like the perfect model for my needs.
In many ways it was the perfect phone for me. It had the customization of the Android platform and a large screen, before big phones were even a thing. I meticulously maintained my phone in pristine condition (inside and out), even purchasing a bulky hard-shell case to protect it.
Last month my phone started acting wonky; re-booting on its own, and apps were disappearing. A factory reset seemed to stabilize everything and I was thrilled. It was as if my old phone was new again!
Fast forward to last Saturday, I’m composing a text, and the phone suddenly turns off and restarts — freezing on the Samsung Note II screen.
Attempts to clear the cache and do another factory reset were futile. Apparently my phone had sudden death syndrome and I’m not the only one who’s ever experienced this. (Each one of those links is a separate example). This is a known manufacturing defect with the motherboard, forcing them to acknowledge it and extend the warranty in China.
Later that evening, I logged onto Samsung’s website and used their ‘live chat’ service for support. They went over the clearing cache and factory reset options (which I’d already tried) and suggested visiting the Samsung Service Centre in Richmond, BC. However, as I am well past my one year warranty, any work they perform would not be covered by Samsung.
Unsure what to do next, I sent them a tweet.
On Monday, I called Samsung Customer Support, hoping that phone communication would be easier. I connected to an agent surprisingly quickly, and explained my situation.
Again, the representative told me that my phone was out of warranty, but suggested that I fully drain the battery and attempt to charge it. If this failed to work, I should definitely visit the Samsung Service Centre. I was concerned by this, so I asked them specifically if this was Samsung, or a third-party dealer? Obviously, a third-party dealer has no vested interest in my product, and would likely charge just to diagnose the issue. The agent confirmed that the Service Centre was run by Samsung.
By Monday night my phone battery was completely drained. On Tuesday morning, the battery was charged but nothing had changed — my phone was still stuck on the Samsung Note II boot-up screen.
So off I went to the Samsung Service Centre, located in an industrial business complex in Richmond BC (30 mins away by car). Upon arrival, I showed them my near-mint condition phone that had suddenly stopped working over the weekend.
“So it will be $35 to diagnose, and if it’s a motherboard issue it will be $300 to replace.”
“There’s no way that this would be covered by Samsung? Even if it’s a known manufacturing defect?”
“Not if you’re past the one year warranty.” Well, shit.
“We aren’t actually Samsung, we’re an authorized service centre.” This is exactly what I had assumed, and was wanting to avoid.
“Well, it does say Samsung on your door and on the complimentary water bottles. Can I use your phone to call Samsung, being that mine is broken?”
“Sorry, our phone is for staff only.”
Frustrated, back to Vancouver I drove…
Once back home, I called Samsung, who continued to explain that because my phone isn’t on warranty, there isn’t anything they could do. I asked if I could speak to a supervisor; after all, this is a known (but not officially acknowledged in North America) manufacturing defect.
The supervisor reiterated everything I’d already been told. I told him that they should at least let the service centre take a look at it, and if they acknowledge that there’s no physical or water damage — and it’s a faulty chip, replace it free of charge.
“Unfortunately sir, if you are past your warranty date there isn’t anything we’re able to do.” I took to the Samsung Canada Facebook page:
Later that afternoon I wandered down the street to my local cell-phone repair shop, Foreign Electronics. Their quote to replace the motherboard was $150, which at this point I was happy to pay. They even provided me with a free loaner phone!
I’m not done with the Android platform, but I’m definitely finished with Samsung. Having paid over $600 for this top-of-the-line phone nearly two years ago, I’m incredibly disappointed in the lack of customer service and support from this company. If a company knowingly manufactures a malfunctioning/faulty product and the defect manifests, it shouldn’t matter when it’s brought in. A manufacturing defect should never be blamed on the purchaser.
UPDATE (March 6, 2015)
My local electronics repair shop, Foreign Electronics, informed me they are not able to source any motherboards (from Samsung or elsewhere) that do not suffer this defect. They suggested I try selling my phone for parts on Craigslist, which I successfully did.
I cannot praise Foreign Electronics enough, for their excellent service and follow-up. Samsung should send their ‘authorized service centre’ in Richmond to this small business for some customer service training.