Samsung Experience Store Disappointment

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Probably every one of us has a Samsung device. May it be a refrigerator, a washing machine, laptop, TV, smartphone,… There are just so many things Samsung builds. Samsung is also one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world and their phones run on Google’s Android operating system which I am a big fan of. I do love Samsung hardware, they make undoubtedly some of the best hardware out there. Not only in phones but also in other devices like TVs. Then there is the downside that Samsung is copying software and services like crazy. Samsung’s software and services are mainly crap. Sorry to call it that way, but I try to avoid them like the plague. Especially services, where Samsung wants you to invest in an eco-system and then a year or two later they will shut it down. Like their movie platform. I don’t remember the name anymore as it was many years ago, but they shut it down. If you bought movies on the platform, they are now all gone. Luckily I never put any money in there and stuck with the “big-boys” out there. The best example is right now their contacts app on Galaxy devices. With one of the recent updates, they removed the ability to split wrongfully merged contacts. The phone merged contacts because they had the same office number and now there is no way for me to split them in my phone’s phonebook app. It was possible before, but not anymore after they pushed an update to eliminate that function. Why? Not even Samsung could tell me when asked. 

As mentioned, Samsung likes to copy other companies, especially their biggest competitor Apple. That’s why Samsung has now also retail locations, similar to an Apple Store. They are called – Samsung Experience Store. This is the story of my experience with them.

Background

I had to get my phone fixed as I notices some dead pixels on the screen. The screen itself was not damaged or deformed as it is always in my Otterbox Defender. My device was within warranty time, as I bought it just last year. I looked up the Samsung website and contacted Samsung. Samsung partnered with ubreakifix for phone repairs. You can find them all over the country. There was one close to my hotel and I headed over there on a Saturday morning to get my phone checked out and repaired. I called them the day before and they told me they can fix it within the same day when I bring it in early enough.

I took my phone out of my Otterbox, which revealed some scuff marks where the cover ends on the top portion of the phone. This might be also because there was some sand in there which caused the scuff marks at the edge of the case. I use my phone in harsh conditions as I need it for business. The guy at the ubreakifix store looked at it and more or less denied warranty repair. I like their service as I had a phone screen before repairs with them and it was a hassle-free experience. However, they try to avoid doing any warranty work whatsoever and told me to go to the Samsung Experience Store and see if they would repair it. There are only four of them in the United States and I was lucky enough that the closest one was only a 30-minute drive away from the ubreakifix store.

Location

The Samsung Experience Store in Los Angeles is located at the Americana at Brand. The Americana at Brand is a large outdoor shopping, dining, entertainment, and residential complex in Glendale, California. They have a dedicated parking garage which has fair prices but it is not for free. However, depending on the length of your stay, you can validate your parking ticket at many retailers like the Cheesecake Factory. You guessed it, Samsung doesn’t offer validation. If you want to save some money, you can park at “The Galleria”, another shopping mall, next door which has free parking.

Inside the outdoor mall, you find the Samsung Experience Store very close to the AMC movie theatre. You can check out the mall’s website to get a better overview before you arrive but there are also plenty helpful maps and guides throughout the outdoor shopping mall.

 

First Impression

The Samsung Experience Store has two levels on which you can experience Samsung devices. The Samsung Experience Store is specialized in smartphones, tablets, laptops, and some TVs and connected home stuff. You won’t find refrigerators or wash machines in this store. However, during the almost two months I came back here to the Samsung Experience Store, the upper level was closed for customers.

When you first walk in it really reminds you about an Apple Store. Very similar layout. Their devices are displayed throughout different islands and categorized by the type of devices. What I really loved was the cord-free security on some of the smartphones. You could pick them up and play with them, experience the device, without worrying about tangling up the attached security and theft protection cable. They still had a small security attachment on them, which would sound an alert if you move too far away from the device’s prop stand. Besides the devices themselves, they also offered accessories like cases. Mainly only Samsung’s own accessories with very few third-party products. Sad but understandable. They want to drive their own sales.

Staff Knowledge

While I waited numerous times during my many visits here, more about that later. I killed some time by playing with the devices and asking questions about issues I have with services and about specific device features. The staff itself was very friendly and helpful but lacked a lot of knowledge. It felt more like a used-car lot where you get the basics to actually get you to buy the product and out of the door as quickly as possible. Quite a few questions couldn’t be answered and as I saw they didn’t really know, I stopped pushing it further to get an answer. That’s the sad part about the experience you want when visiting a store like this.

The photos below show the second floor before they did their remodeling in October 2021.

My Repair Experience/Disappointment

Remember, I first went to ubreakifix and they told me to come here. I didn’t have an appointment and just showed up here at the store to see what they even would say about the damage and if they would do it under warranty. I was hoping that I can get a green light for the warranty repair and then take it back to ubreakifix as this would be more convenient for me in many many ways as you will find out shortly. As mentioned, I had a screen replaced on an older phone of mine before and used a ubreakifix store and was super happy with the experience and service.

1st Attempt

So I got in line for the customer service agent and after maybe waiting 10 minutes there, a lady from the staff came to me and asked me how she could help. I explained the situation and showed her my phone. I showed her the dead pixels on my screen and handed her the phone as she wanted to check it for any physical damage. She told me that they can’t do a warranty repair because of “excessive abuse”. I asked her what she meant and she was pointing out the scuff marks on top of the phone. I explained to her that this is from the Otterbox of which I never take the phone out but I took it out today so they can replace the screen and there is no way of doing that in the cover. She went upstairs and talked to one of her managers. I waited a few minutes for her to come back and she actually told me that Samsung would repair it under warranty. I was super happy but that didn’t hold long when she told me that the next appointment is 2 weeks out. Yes, the first possible appointment was 14 days out. I scheduled my appointment for a Saturday morning as this would give Samsung enough time to fix the phone the same day and I could enjoy the shopping mall and have a bite at the Cheesecake Factory.

2nd Attempt

Unfortunately, due to a work emergency out of town, I had to reschedule the appointment I had. I called the Samsung Experience Store first and nobody answered, so I left a voicemail. Nobody called back either and kept calling the Samsung Experience Store like 15 times until  finally, someone picked up. I explained the situation and the next possible appointment was again two weeks out. Not very happy but I had to take care of business first and decided to change it to that date. They gave me an appointment very late in the day, but the phone agent guaranteed me that it will be fixed the same day.

3rd Attempt

They had me scheduled for 5 p.m. and I showed up maybe 10 minutes late as traffic was horrible that day. I had to wait maybe 30 minutes in line before someone even took care of me. The appointment I got, was the last one for that day. As I got finally talk to someone, they told me to take the elevator upstairs and check-in there. Now I am almost 45 minutes late to the original appointment time as they dragged their feed getting people taken care of. I gave the agent my name and that I am here for my repair appointment. He wanted to see my phone again and check what was going on. He also pointed out that the phone has some scuff marks. I gave him the same explanation, which is the truth, as to the other agent before. It’s because of my Otterbox. Nobody even put a remark in my file that this would be a warranty repair. The guy was super nice and helpful and he believed me that it was originally set up as a warranty repair. He gave it to his tech to look at and came back a few minutes later to tell me that they can’t guarantee that the device will be ready today and I might have to pick it up the next day. I told him that they guaranteed me same-day repair on the phone. The agent told me that my device will be immediately worked on but the tech can’t guarantee that he can finish it as they might run into issues during the repair.

I was super upset as I had a small road trip planned for the rest of the weekend for which I would use my phone as navigation and all kinds of other stuff. Therefore I had to reschedule again and of course, another two weeks wait time. At that point, they should have done something to give me an earlier appointment but they don’t care about that. It wasn’t my fault that Samsung overpromised and underdelivered. I didn’t make a scene and just sucked it up and waited another two weeks. The new appointment was now on a Tuesday at 1 p.m. and there should be enough time to finish the repair the same day.

4th Attempt

As I finally wanted to get this issue behind me I showed up early at the store. I was 20 minutes early. Also, I tried to be smart, and rather than waiting downstairs in line, going straight to the elevator to go upstairs and check in. As I got into the elevator an employee stopped me and told me that the service is now downstairs at the Customisation Desk as they are remodeling upstairs. 

This time it took me 45 minutes to actually talk to a person and I again had to explain what was going on with my phone. He looked at it and told me that they will decline the warranty because of the scuff marks. By the way, the scuff marks are minor and are not on the actual display itself. They are on the frame of the phone. I told him again, that when I originally set up my first appointment that they said they would cover it under warranty. He just told me that there are no notes in my profile about this. At this point I was a little bit angry as I came here 3 times before and they always honored it as a warranty and now all of a sudden because there is actually time to fix it, they say no more warranty. I told him that it doesn’t make sense for me to come to this place, drive almost an hour every time if there are ubreakifix stores all over the place which are way more convenient to me than the Samsung Experience Store. He asked me which manager originally signed off on the warranty and I couldn’t give him the answer as the lady I talked to during my first visit here, took the phone upstairs without me. He went upstairs and came back to me with the answer that they will repair it under warranty because I have been here so many times. Seriously? Just because I showed up multiple times you do it now for free? I have to remember this for the future. I was upset, that they used this to make me look guilty. They told me on Day 1 that they will do it under warranty. If they would have it denied back then, I would have gotten back to the ubreakifix store drop it off there and pay for the repair. That would have saved me six weeks of waiting.

He took possession of the phone and I had to sign some paperwork. The agreement states that they can delete your phone if necessary. I thought for a hardware replacement there is no need to reset any software on my device. I also noted that verbally to the agent. You also need to surrender your PIN. I have changed mine to a different simple one before, so I won’t give away my actual PIN. You should do that too. Also, lock all your apps with a different PIN or password if supported and you don’t want any of the techs sniffing around.

Now it’s almost an hour past my original appointment time. I asked how long the repair would take and got told 2-3 hours. I gave them an alternate email address, not the one linked to my Samsung account, to email me when the phone is ready to be picked up. I brought my iPad and would use the mall’s Wi-Fi to check my emails for any repair updates.

I explored the mall and had a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Besides shopping and dining, take a narrated Trolley ride or watch their fountain show. The show is not as good as the one at the Bellagio in Vegas, but hey you are already here.

Two hours after dropping off my phone, I showed back up in-store to see what the status is as I haven’t received any email yet. I got told it would be at least another 1 to 1.5 hours before my smartphone would be ready. I went back outside as the Samsung Guest Wi-Fi pretty much blocks all known websites like Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Gmail,… However, this blog is working fine on the store’s guest Wi-Fi.

Just shortly before 5 p.m. I showed up again at the Samsung Experience Store to check for the status of my repair. It’s now 3 hours after I dropped off the phone. I got told the people working repair cases are on break right now and I should check back in 30 minutes. Luckily one of them arrived just a few minutes after I showed up. He went upstairs and checked on my repair status. He came back and told me that they need another 30 minutes as they ran into issues as I had a custom launcher installed. Yes, I do. I use Nova Launcher, the best Android launcher ever. I have it also set up very intuitive and everything they need is easily accessible as the settings of the phone are still located in the drop-down menu as on every Samsung phone in the world.

Shortly before 6 p.m. I had my phone back in my hand. It came in a nice Samsung Care pouch and I also got a test certificate that everything on my phone checked out o.k.

When I pulled the phone out, the screen still had a plastic foil sticking to it. The phone was already botted up and I pressed the power switch to turn it on. I noticed right away that they changed my default launcher back to Samsung OneUI. Another change I noticed right away was that my phone started the Samsung keyboard rather than Gboard I have set up. I mean I can live with that and just change it again to how I want it. No big deal I thought. I also noticed that all the scuff marks are now gone. I don’t know how much they have to change to exchange the display, but it seems part of the frame has to be replaced as well. After four hours I finally had my phone back. As it was late, I wanted to get back to the hotel as I still had a bunch of paperwork to do. 

Repair Conclusion

After one hour, I arrived at the hotel and put the phone back into my Otterbox to have it protected. I also checked more of the phone’s settings and was shocked that they reset all permission of every app. They selected a default browser which I never did and now I had to install another browser to undo this change. Luckily I know how to do all this stuff. Even after three weeks, I was still finding apps that had lost their permissions and therefore not working correctly but I didn’t need them so I didn’t see this coming right away. What I have should be done right away is start every single app right away and set up permission again. Seriously guys? Because you can’t fix out the launcher? 

One positive thing! The only positive thing about this endeavor. My screen had no more dead pixels and is finally looking good again. It took me really forever to get this fixed. I don’t know if any of my data was compromised, like my phonebook and text messages. There was nothing I need to hide, but still not ok if someone copies that without my permission. We will probably never find out.

Conclusion

Only bring your device to this place if you worry about your warranty. If you know it’s out of warranty you are better off to go to a ubreakifix store, even if you live right at the Americana at Brand. You avoid the two weeks waiting time for your phone to be taken in and get fixed. This is important if you have a serious issue like your phone is completely broken and not usable anymore. For me, it was just a few dead pixels that you only noticed on white background. If you have to pay for your repair anyway, better go to an authorized service station like ubreakifix. Faster and better service.

Here are a few steps you should take before you drop off your phone for repair. It always depends on what the exact issue is but if you can follow every step.

  • Change your device PIN or remove it completely as otherwise, you compromise it as the techs need it to check your phone
  • If your phone has a memory card, remove it. Except the problem is related to the memory card or data stored on it. Therefore all your photos, selfies, and other data on your memory card are safe. Meaning nobody can see it or accidentally delete/reset it.
  • Password/PIN protect apps you don’t want techs to sniff around in. Use a different password/pin than your screen lock pin. You should use this for your banking and financial apps, messaging apps, company-related apps, and every other app on your phone.
  • If you are really worried about data being handed out, factory reset your phone before dropping it off for repair. This, of course, depends on how functional your phone still is.
  • Take a photo of the front and back of your phone in case the tech damages or scratches it.
  • Don’t believe their words, get everything in writing. If someone tells you you get it fixed under warranty, have them give that information in writing. Ask for a manager to write down their name and that they will fix it under warranty. Also, have that information put on your profile within Samsung.
  • If you drop your phone off for repair, you might want to bring a second phone or another device to be able to get email updates, if they ever send one out, and also for timekeeping if you only use your phone for that.
  • Never get the last appointment of the day if you want your phone back guaranteed the same day.
  • Avoid the Samsung Experience Store if you can and go to an authorized service station instead if you can.

Overall Conclusion

Besides my very negative repair experience, the Samsung Experience Store is great to check out new devices as they get released. Other electronic stores like BestBuy might only have mock-ups available if a new device is released. If you need more information or help which is beyond what it shows on the device detail page, most of the staff is overwhelmed with such requests as well. Some of them, however, try hard to help you. 

I would rather shop online at samsung.com than in-store as this gives you Samsung Rewards points and you can combine it with shopping portals to get extra points, miles, or cashback. Yes, but when you shop in-store you won’t get your Samsung Rewards Points. Not that I can value them much, as 200 points equal $1.

Samsung Rewards Points Quick Guide

I don’t value Samsung Rewards Points very much. They don’t give you any real value and you can only use them for Samsung Products when shopping online or in the app. That’s how Samsung calls it, but for me shopping in the app is the same as shopping online. You can maybe differentiate between website and app, but hey it’s Samsung. Samsung devalued its points a lot last year. If you purchase anything from Samsung you have to wait 15 to 29 days to get your points. That’s when the return window closes. Somewhat understandable… If you have points, try to get rid of them and buy something. If you are not outfitting big offices the points are pretty much useless, as they expire before you have collected enough points to get something valuable from it. 

Then I called their support hotline if they extended the points expiration date, as so many companies did because of the pandemic. I got told my points won’t expire until the end of 2022. LIE! They did expire exactly as they were supposed to expire but the agent just told me straight out lie. Now I lost all my points and Samsung won’t reinstate them. Their excuse is the system won’t let them. He told me he will connect me to the Sales Department to see if they can give me a special discount. After the transfer, I was on hold for 45 minutes and then just hang up as I knew I would never get transferred. If you call sales directly, there was not even a wait time. By the way to get to that point to get transferred. I was already on the phone with multiple agents for over 2 hours. Most of them don’t know how to use their phone system to transfer people. If they do, they will just transfer you forward to someone else so they don’t have to deal with you. They even transferred me to a (credit) card company Samsung has a relation with but they are not at all responsible for points. 99% of the people at the support hotline don’t know what they are doing. Unfortunately, this issue is not limited to Samsung, it’s every big company nowadays.

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