I want to like Samsung. I really, really do.
They make lovely devices. They inexplicably and endearingly insert British period dramas into their product launch events. They have a good-natured pop at Apple every now and again.
But they keep doing really silly things and just ruin everything all of the time.
Samsung fills its smartphones with software everyone uninstalls the moment the device arrives. It places the computer chip equivalent of a chocolate fireguard into its flagship iPhone competitor. It devises something as utterly brilliant as DEX and then fails to tell anyone about it (have you heard of it?).
But Samsung really excelled itself yesterday, and it couldn’t have happened at a more inconvenient time for yours truly.
It all started so well
On August 10th, I ordered the new Galaxy Z Flip4. That was the day of the announcement and I was rather chuffed to secure a delivery date of August 26th.
This was my first foray into the world of flippable phones. I was excited; having grown increasingly bored of the iPhone and with new entrants such as the Nothing Phone (1) piquing my interest, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on an entirely different form factor.
I have big plans for the Z Flip4. It’s going to be the perfect accompaniment to my Watch5 Pro and, one would hope, a decent alternative to the iPhone 13 mini once I go all-in with the big iPhone next month.
Friday was going to be a big day. I’d unbox my new toy, shoot a first impressions video, and start my Flip journey.
Then, it all went horribly wrong.
It had been a long day and I was looking forward to spending some seriously important family time before diving headlong into another set of tasks later that evening.
As I placed the key into the front door of my house, I pulled down on Spark email to refresh my inbox only to receive an unexpected email from Samsung.
“Samsung – Payment Refunded,” said the subject line.
I read on.
“Your refund has been processed for this order,” said Mr Samsung. “Please note it may take up to 3 business days before your account is credited with the funds.”
Dumfounded, I continued into the house, greeted the two most important people in my life (sorry, Eddie – three, if we included those with four legs) and reread the email. Surely, I’d misread it the first time around.
Below the cancellation note was an image of my Z Flip4. Beneath that was confirmation of the amount I’d been refunded and the card to which the money was being returned.
It’s worth confirming at this juncture that I never cancelled the order. Since placing it, I’d simply waited patiently for my delivery date, with a vague expectation that it might arrive a little early, as it had for so many other people.
I grabbed my iPhone and called Samsung.
An hour lost
I’m typically British; I don’t really like complaining. Once I get into it, I inevitably feel sorry for the person on the other end of the phone and tell them constantly that “it isn’t your fault, but…”.
That’s largely what happened last night as I spoke to two separate Samsung representatives about the mysteriously self-cancelling Z Flip4 order.
I’ll spare you the entire conversation, but it went something like this.
Me: “Hi – I’ve received an email informing me that my order for the Z Flip4 has been cancelled and refunded. But I haven’t cancelled it and I still want to receive it on Friday. Can you help, please?”
Samsung Person: “I’m sorry to hear that. Let me check that for you.”
Far too long passes.
Samsung Person: “Ok, so it looks like the order has been cancelled due to a lack of stock.”
Me: “Right. But I didn’t cancel it. And I was never informed of this until the refund email today.”
Samsung Person: “Yes, but it does seem as though the system has cancelled it because the model you’ve chosen isn’t available.”
Me: “But it was available and in stock when I ordered it.”
Samsung Person: “I’m sorry to hear that. Our system has cancelled it because there is no stock of the 128GB blue version.”
Me: “Then, why did your website allow me to order it on launch day and tell me that it would be delivered by Friday?”
Samsung Person: “Let me check.”
Far too long passes. Again.
Samsung Person: “I’ve checked and I’m afraid the system has cancelled the order because we’ve run out of that model.”
Me: “I understand that. But I ordered it when you did have stock.”
Samsung Person: “I can give you a £20 credit and we can try and order another one now.”
Far too long passes. Again. Again.
Samsung Person: “I’m afraid they are now all showing as out of stock. The earliest we can deliver is in September.”
Me: “But I’m on your website now and it’s telling me that the Z Flip4 is in stock for delivery on Friday.”
Samsung Person: “Yes, but our internal system is the most accurate.”
This went on for ages – well over an hour, in fact. The run I’d been planning before having dinner with my family was ebbing away. What little hair I had left on my head was slowly dropping to the floor. My bulging content calendar was looking at me, knowingly.
Eventually, I got through to a manager who told me that the only way I could secure a Flip4 by Friday, possibly, was to head to a Samsung store and pick one up. That would be great, if the nearest store to me wasn’t an hour away and if I hadn’t already ordered the bloody thing online and been told that it would arrive on Friday before having it cancelled by Samsung for absolutely no reason at all.
I was lost for words. I even did that horrible ‘check me out’ thing of explaining that this was actually a review unit for a YouTube channel that attracts half a million views each month. That didn’t work either. Obviously; Samsung has no idea who I am. They don’t care.
After hanging up, I decided to check the Samsung website once more. The exact phone I’d ordered previously was still showing as in stock. So, I went for it and ordered it, again. And picked a delivery date for… today.
You read that right.
I’ve even received an email from the courier to say it will arrive today. Although I’m entirely prepared for that not to happen, it does look rather promising.
So, what on earth was all that all about, Samsung? Why did I spend an hour on the phone with your team who told me in no uncertain terms that you didn’t have any Flip4 devices available?
Moral of the story
Apple has messed me about a fair bit with deliveries over the last couple of years, so they are far from perfect in that regard, but this episode with Samsung confirms my suspicions.
Despite a wonderful approach to product development (the launch of the Flip4 and Fold4 reveal that Samsung is still happy to push boundaries and make genuinely interesting devices), this is a company that is entirely lost at sea.
The Exynos chip, questionable OS fiddling, and episodes like the one I experienced yesterday confirm that Samsung is cumbersome, bloated, full of bureaucracy, and incapable of delivering a satisfying customer experience. It is such a shame. I really do want to like Samsung.
Let’s hope that Flip4 arrives today.