Honey and vinegar: a tale of Samsung, HTC and divergent PR strategies

Daniel Bader

December 14, 2013 1:58 pm

Habib Tannazi just wanted a working phone.

After returning to the WIND Store for the umpteenth time, the Maple, ON native was tired of being told that his HTC Amaze, which had stopped working twice already, was still being looked at. Worst of all, the WIND employees in who he put his faith did not seem to know where his phone was, or how long it would take to get him another replacement.

So Tannazi took to Reddit’s Canada subcategory to voice his frustration. He asked for advice, and updated the growing number of thread subscribers to what was happening. After returning to the store with the loaner phone, for which he had put down a $60 deposit, he discovered that a young WIND Mobile employee had actually entered into the system that he had returned it, pocketing the money in the process. Tannazi didn’t want to get the kid in trouble, but he certainly wanted his money back, especially after being knocked around for nearly six months without his original phone.

After waiting in limbo for a few weeks, a member of HTC’s PR team caught wind of the Reddit post and messaged Tannazi about potentially providing him with a new device. They settled on an HTC One, which the company sent him along with apologies for his troubles. Though the fault was with WIND Mobile — the Amaze was still under warranty — HTC saw an opportunity to make things right and potentially keep a customer. While Tannazi hasn’t decided whether he’s going to leave WIND, things are looking a lot brighter.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Richard Wygand, whose terrible experience with Samsung’s PR has garnered national attention. The Vancouver native woke up last week to a strange corrosive smell, only to discover his Galaxy S4 had been charred overnight. Turns out the included AC adapter — regulation and from the box — had overloaded the lithium-ion battery, coming close to starting a fire.

Wygand called Rogers to sort out the issue, who recommended Samsung itself would provide an expedited experience. After contacting the OEM’s Canadian office, the company asked him to provide video evidence, which was put on YouTube and has since attracted over a million hits. In exchange for a new phone, which Wygand was entitled to, Samsung reportedly issued a document requiring him to remove the video from the sharing site and to stop publicizing the incident. While this is standard practice in the industry, Wygand feels it was heavy-handed and inappropriate given all he had been through.

After receiving the letter, which he refused to sign, Wygand posted yet another video on YouTube, expressing his dismay at the company’s actions. While Samsung has since offered to replace his device, and actually sent one to Wygand’s residence, which he promptly denied, the snafu has thrown Samsung into a negative light.

 

Nokia, seizing on the opportunity, contacted Wygand over Twitter and offered him a brand new Lumia device, which he has decided to accept. While he hasn’t sworn off Samsung products indefinitely, Wygand claims that the company, who has experienced problems with its removable batteries in the past, needs to sort out its quality control issues.

The two scenarios speak to the type of will, both good and bad, big companies can offer. HTC has long been considered an underdog, though at one time was the leader in Android sales in North America; Samsung, on the other hand, has grown to be the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, and has a considerable presence in Canada, both in terms of marketing and market share. Samsung may have thought it was doing the appropriate thing, asking Wygand to take down an inflammatory and likely-damaging portrayal of a very unlikely, and uncommon, smartphone nightmare, but they underestimated the power of social media. YouTube has long been an outlet for protest, and Wygand’s familiarity with the medium — he stands and talks in front of a camera — meant it was his first and only stop. The videos have since gone viral, being covered by Mashable, Global News and others.

HTC, on the other hand, was able to turn a potential negative experience, though on a much smaller scale, into something that may turn a few skeptics into potential buyers.

Obviously, Samsung isn’t the only company to have had issues with batteries — Apple has had its fair share of charred iPhones over the years — but treating the situation with honey rather than vinegar would have likely resolved this situation much faster, and without the burning.

  • Desi Jatt

    Good for Nokia to step up and offer him one of the best phones in the market

    • It’s Me

      Had a first gen Samsung galaxy tab that had some issues. Once their product is in your hands Samsung does nothing but make you feel like an inconvenience. It seems to be part of their DNA. Fantastic at selling, horrible at follow up.

      Nokia and HTC really come out of this article look like heroes, and perhaps that is well deserved. Certainly Samsung deserves to be pilloried for their behaviour.

  • 刁ㄖ凵ㄣㄣㄇ

    I got an HTC amaze from telus when i signed my contract about 2 years ago. It was a fast phone and all, but there were so many hardware problems with it, i felt like eating the phone every time i used it. The microphone earpiece eventually stopped working after the warranty ended, and since its been in my drawer collecting dust. Worst phone ever.

  • Hammerhil

    I love Samsung phones, but once you take the phone out of the box they act like they truly don’t care about the customer who just gave them money. Their update schedules and customer support are horrible, and their communications and PR are pretty much the worst I have ever dealt with. The Samsung Mobile Canada Facebook page has to be the biggest failure in PR I have ever seen. They never put anything useful on it and every single post gets a “Thanks for your comment, but we don’t have any news about that, but be sure to check back! Have a great day!” and gets ignored forever.

  • IJustGotaTan

    Samsung are getting too big for themselves. Arrogance seems to be a common trait for many of these companies.

    • Brandon Roberts

      One thing Apple does really well is take care of their customers!

    • NotARogersEmployee

      As a former Apple customer, I’d have to agree.

    • blzd

      You must’ve not been holding it wrong.

    • framing god

      Yes they do, if you get apple care. Which costs more money. If they took care of their customers needs instead of their own they would have bugger screens, removable batteries and a SD slot. I still prefer vertically integrated companies mainly samsung. They don’t make the best product in the world but when it comes to bang for buck they probably do especially in TV’s.

    • It’s Me

      Not related to AppleCare. Never known anyone with AppleCare, but all are generally happy with their service.

    • Joseph

      Ya dropped my Iphone 4 and the screen broke and I didn’t have apple care but I walked into the store and they just gave me a new phone…..apple is pretty good for making sure their customers are returning to them for other products and then some.

    • Matt

      There isn’t a phone company on the planet that will just give you a new device because you broke the screen in it. Cool story, bro.

    • Joseph

      Yes there is not a single company ask the thousands of other people that apple has done the same thing for, then come back to me and say that but I’m sure you won’t so don’t be troll.

  • TMak

    Wind has terrible customer service with my problematic nexus 4 after getting the kitkat update, no network, which rendered my phone useless. They play around the ball and told me they know about the issue and will fix it by the end of the month, and after that it was still not working and I got fed up with them playing around with me, so I ultimately cancelled my line even though I still have half month left of paid service.
    I just bought a Samsung Device as a replacement phone right now, and I do see the adapter isn’t suitable for Vancouver because there is spark and smell when I plug it into the socket, hopefully it isn’t as bad as Richard’s because Samsung’s PR is quite frankly scaring me.

    • hoo dat

      Not defending WIND as it’s known that their customer service can be problematic, but why would they be responsible for an update that they have nothing to do with? The Kit-Kat update for the Nexus phones comes directly from Google, WIND doesn’t even get a sniff at it.

    • Martin Chan

      Yeah, customer service isn’t exactly great but hey, I can deal with that if I pay 30$ for unlimited everything.

    • Wild

      Customer service is the basis of every company. You pay for service so why should you lower your standards?

    • Scazza

      If he bought the phone from WIND, then the warranty is covered through them, even if the mfd screws up the phone via a bad software update.

    • hoo dat

      Why would a carrier be held responsible for a software update if they, a) didn’t supply the software; b) never tested it, and; c) never approved it? WIND sold the hardware and are responsible for that. As they have nothing to do with the updated OS then they have no jurisdiction to warrant any download they have not pre approved or tested. Would we be having the same conversation if an Angry Birds update caused a software conflict? No, it’s the developers who are responsible. To think about it another way, would HP fix a computer that crapped out after a Windows update? Of course they wouldn’t, you’d go right to Microsoft. WIND has absolutely no responsibility in this matter and it should have been dealt with by Google.

    • Scazza

      You are actually wrong on both accounts. If Angry Birds killed your phone, good luck getting Rovio to replace your device.

      As someone who used to be an HP reseller, and now works in the cellular industry, I can tell you that on both accounts you are wrong. If you bought an HP comp and a windows update killed it, HP DOES cover the warranty for the system and WILL repair it, even if you install linux on it and it does, as they are the OEM and cover the system as a whole, hardware and software. If it ceases to function, THEY cover it. Imagine the s***storm if HP refused to cover a system with linux installed on it??? consumerist com/2011/02/11/hp-pretends-linux-voids-netbook-hardware-warranty/ see, they backed down that one time and now don’t care.

      As for cellphones, almost all the mfd that sell phones in Canada contract out a number of repair houses in the country (FutureTel, All Tech-Neek Electronics for LG), and always require you to go through your original carrier to send out to these places. They normally do not deal directly with the dealer. Normal process is that no matter what, WIND sends the phone in on the customers behalf, even if it was a software issue, and they will reflash it and send it back under warranty. Google made the software update, there is no way in **** THEY would replace a non-google phone. Thats just not how it works.

  • p_lindsay

    What the hell was Samsung expecting when they demand ‘video evidence’? I’m of the opinion that in both of these cases the carriers (Wind and Rogers) should have replaced the devices and dealt with the manufacturers themselves.

    • L Joel

      I agree 100% After paying inflated rates under contract to get a subsidized phone, Wind and Rogers should have simply did an over the counter swap and not leave these folks to deal with the manufacture. Asking you to jump hoops and deal with manufactures is a pain in the azz. I try to buy most of my electronics from costco for the no BS Warranty…. just return and replace in most cases.

    • hajflfsklf

      taking a video and emailing it to samsung would have been the fastest way. or did you think mailing the device to samsung would take less time? Rogers would not replace the device, they’ll only send it out for repair like it states in their policy.

      oh and sending it to futuretel? they might very well say its a customer induced damage and not even repair the damn thing. at least samsung was going to replace it.

    • p_lindsay

      I knew it was only a matter of time until one of you RoBeLus shills showed up and explained to us why we should expect nothing good from any of our carriers.

    • hajflfsklf

      just telling how things will go :)

  • Humberto Giambrone

    I put vinegar in my salad with olive oil and a pinch of salt.

    It’s quite tasty

  • Megalink

    What a complete gaffe on Samsung’s part, people need to be fired for that.

    • FunkyMonkey

      why should anyone be fired? I’m sure the decision was made by a team doing their “due diligence” and “protecting their a$$es”, sure not great PR, but no reason to fire no one over this.

    • Megalink

      They created a viral video, send in the affected device for inspection. Don’t create the negative situation, control it and own it.

    • Anaron

      If they knew the video would go viral, they would have asked Richard Wygand to send them a private video. No one should be fired over something like this.

  • Kienerman

    wow I got an s4 been using it for a while didn’t hear about this til now thanks for the post kinda scary knowing the fact it can catch on fire like that. Surprised Samsung didn’t react better than this goes to show you bigger company only cares about he $ in the end.

  • Nachotech

    I would think someone in Samsung’s customer service division is going to get canned for this. If a rare event like this happens and the battery melts, the best thing they could’ve (and should’ve) done is replace the phone as quickly as possible to keep the customer happy (and quiet). Instead they’ve got a viral video with over a million views that will likely cost them hundreds, possible thousands of sales. Terrible PR.

  • Trek S

    I owned almost every single Galaxy device. Never going to buy a mobile product from Samsung again. They gave me the biggest headaches for my Note 2 and S4.

    • Anaron

      Ouch. I don’t own any Samsung products aside from a printer. I’m curious about the issues you had with your Note 2 and S4.

  • VinceBabin

    I’m seeing completely different versions here. I had a gs3 the screen broke and Samsung sent me a check to pay for the replacement. Fast forward a few months and I buy the HTC one. Not 2 weeks later speakers blow, can’t exchange it have to send for repair. Since then it’s been out for repair 5 more times. On repair 5 I asked HTC for a replacement. They told me “Don’t hold your breath” and “It’s not HTC’s problem, It’s Bell”. Pissed off I called bell to tell them, they took charge, got me out of both my contracts and sent me a brand new Note 3. Finally got my One back only to see that FutureTel did a bad job assembling it, power button was jammed into device and camera was way off center. I had to send it back. Now waiting for HTC to just replace the damned thing, but as instructed, not holding my breath.

    • B-Mac

      did samsung pay you to write this? lol

    • VinceBabin

      Lol no, I google Samsung CEO on Consumerist found an email and gave it a try. Worked incredibly well!

    • Scazza

      On the 5th time out, no matter the cause, they should have replaced the device. If not, Bell should have wrote in their repair system that it was a 5th repair and usually the repair center will send back a “new” device.

    • VinceBabin

      That’s what I figured since HTC reps kept telling me after 3 repairs a replacement is issued. Their RMA team however told me they never replace devices, she was waiting for corporate to decide to fix my phone. This is after I’d have been waiting 2 weeks for a descision. I had sent it in for blown speakers and camera and FutureTel deemed it’s warranty void because my grills had scratches.

    • hajflfsklf

      futuretel is pretty bad sometimes lol. they can be real d-bags about batteries and backcovers

    • VinceBabin

      They tend to stretch the definition of physical damage to mean what they want, resulting in a higher repair bill for customers. The worst part is the oems (HTC, LG, sam) take their word as gospel and stand by them 100%. Customers can’t win!

    • hajflfsklf

      ya every cracked screen is 250$ no matter what

    • VinceBabin

      FutureTel told me to fix the rear camera they would need to replace the screen, cause of the scratches, $325.00. Even though the scratches were only on the top aluminum grill. I laughed and told them to fix it but I wasn’t paying… And I didn’t.

  • asdfasdf

    im not a big fan of samsung phones but what’s so bad about wanting video evidence? if not then it’s probably easy to fake.. it’s not like samsung wants to hand out free phones to people.

    • hoo dat

      It’s got nothing to do with them wanting video evidence, it’s their demand that the video be removed from YouTube before they will live up to their legal obligations.

    • StevieY

      It isn’t a legal obligation. I don’t disagree with you but info needs to be correct

    • hoo dat

      If you supply a warranty then you have a legal responsibility to live up to the terms of that warranty, this applies for all manufacturers selling in pretty much all countries around the world. Not only that, but in at least all North American, European and Asian countries a manufacturer is legally obliged to supply a minimum mandated warranty on the product they sell with a legal minimum term ranging from 3-12 months depending on the product (electronics) and the country.

    • VinceBabin

      Take it down, get it fixed, put it back up. Simple, free speech.

  • RambleMan

    I had one dealing with WIND customer service. I went into one of their stores, asked a question that the clerk couldn’t answer. The clerk took my mobile number and said her boss would be back in 30 minutes and call me with the answer. That was 2009 and they haven’t called yet. This is a first-person single-anecdotal story of how WIND treats prospective customers.

    • chris

      Maybe she wrote your number down wrong?

    • No lies

      It’s what minimum wage gets you.

    • hajflfsklf

      she probably thought you were trying to pick her up and gave her your number for her to call you. #kappa

    • Bri

      Same with me. I talked to one of the rep on the phone and he told me that his manager would give me a call within an hour. I never got a call after that. But I had the same situation with Rogers so it’s not just WIND guess.

  • Stuntman06

    Samsung was too aggressive in trying to get that video off. They should have just replace the phone. It would make a good impression on the customer. If Samsing just did that, I think the customer would have taken the video down and maybe posted a positive video about Samsung. Once you demand that the video be taken down, you give the impression that you only care about your PR image and not about the customer.

  • Handheld Addict

    The Wind employee stole the $60.00 deposit from the guy. Whatever place he works, why should he be able to get with that?

    • blzd

      He didn’t steal $60 deposit from the guy. He did get a loaner phone for his $60 after all. If anything the employee stole $60 from Wind while also making it very hard for the customer to get his issue settled and creating bad publicity.

    • VinceBabin

      If it shows as returned, did he not just buy a phone for $60

    • Matt

      That’s what I was going to say! Kijiji here I come!

    • hajflfsklf

      that’s one part of the story i didn’t get. if the customer came back with the loaner phone, what’s the store going to do, not give him back his $60? (even if the system says that the loaner phone had been returned). if the store wanted to fight it, ask for the receipt where it says that you returned the phone and a signature. they obviously wont have it.

  • Peter Johanson

    Ths is why you never go with Wind Mobile. This is also why you never get an Android device. It is all about Apple, a superior product that goes with a superior and established company like Bell.

    • Anaron

      Go home Herp, you’re derped.

    • VinceBabin

      I’ll agree apple with its apple care is far superior, but high quality.. No. I’ve had to replace 2 iPhone 4s 6 times each in the last year. I don’t consider it a big deal because of the quick 2 day turn around, but come March and my apple care expires, these will quickly become a pain in the a*s .

    • hajflfsklf

      lmao, for every good story anyone has about apple or samsung or htc or whatever the heck you use, there will be opposite stories. i took an apple phone to the apple store because of the battery, the first time i went, they just told me to factory reset the phone which i know wouldnt do anything to solve my issue, but they refused to do anything else. so second time in (the next day), they finally opened the phone and what do you know, the battery was so swollen that they couldnt even close it back up. if the first time they took even 5 minutes to do that, i wouldnt have had to book my second appointment and waste my first visit. sure its not a big thing, but what if i lived far from the apple store? every company will have its bad stories no matter what.

    • VinceBabin

      I’ve had the same issue at the Apple store. Those asshats think they are supreme overlords of Apple. That’s why I always opt for phone service, I have to put my credit card as a deposit and it takes a couple days but I never get a tech that over steps his place.

  • Jean-Francois Watier

    Samsung don’t care about there consumer…. Il never buy a Samsung again….

  • hajflfsklf

    daniel with a samsung hate article, no way!
    telling someone to take off a youtube video isnt heavy handed, like you pointed out, it is standard practice. im sure your article might have down played the event a little, but seriously “all he’s been through”? he was asked to take a video and samsung agreed to send him a new phone, MAN THAT WAS HARD. i wish replacing my phone was as hard as this.

  • RJay Mirosovsky

    I work for a dealer and I handle all the service out of our store. Samsung has by far the worst warranty service out of any company I have dealt with. Phone continuously get sent back unrepairable. This isn’t a one shot thing either, out the the last eight Samsung phone I have sent out 7 needed to be resent after being returned and 4 of those had to be sent out a third time. I have no beef with Samsung but It just shows how poor there quality control is. HTC and LG on the other hand have been fantastic, HTC is quick and if it cant easily be fixed they just replaced the phone and LG will replace the phone no matter what if it has been sent away twice, even if its for different reasons. This is a completely personal experience and does not reflect the company I work for.

  • Muhammad

    You guys haven’t seen Motorola service yet :/

  • sicsicpuppy

    HTC saw an opportunity to make things right and Wind to make themselves look like the amateurish company they truely are .

  • Jesse

    I like Android. I don’t like apple or apple I phones… But apple has great customer service, and they make quality phones… I have had a nexus 4 and now a nexus 5 and I love them. Quality as well… I have been figiritivly burned by Samsung in the past on more then one occasion and I despise touchwiz. This news just confirms what I already knew… Stay away from Samsung

  • Felix

    Interesting article thanks

  • Roger

    Although Samsung did him wrong, Rogers should have replaced the phone in the first place.

  • FlamesFan89

    I’m not going to weigh in on how the whole PR side of things was handled, but I’ve heard stories like this in the past, from all different manufactures, and there always seems to be a common thread. No one seems to be able to reproduce the problem on video. I’d venture a guess that when Samsung asked for video evidence, that’s more in line of what they were looking for, not, show us your burnt phone, but show us your phone catching fire.

    The damage that was shown, could have easily been done with a lighter. Who knows, maybe his claims are 100% correct, I’m just skeptical. He wouldn’t be the first person to post a fake claim on the internet.

    And before any comments implying I’m some Samsung employee, I couldn’t care less about Samsung, I’m not defending their actions, I really don’t care. Plain and simple, I am just not totally sold on the idea that his phone caught on fire considering there have been 10’s of MILLIONS of the phones sold and yet he seems to stand alone as the only guy to have his catch fire.

    • Guest

      LOL he is not the only guy, go search “Samsung S4 or S3 catch on fire” before u make ur post. There are more than several cases around the globe already, and the phone actually burned down a person’s house while charging.

    • FlamesFan89

      Just out of curiosity, what do you do with all the time you save by typing “u” instead of “you” and “ur” instead of “your”. You must have days worth of time saved up by now. ;)

    • FlamesFan89

      Ok, so the best numbers I could find are that over 40 million had been sold by the end of October.

      Let’s say you are right, and more than one have caught on fire mysteriously. Heck, let’s say 10 have, no, let’s say 1000 have and that’s REALLY exaggerating, that would mean that 0.0025% of all the phones sold of have had this issue.

      We are talking about such grotesquely isolated incidents that stands to reason that there should be some questions about whether this is a true problem that a manufacturer should be concerned about, or are they simply flukes of mass production.

      My opinion is that Samsung should likely hire some better PR people to handle these things better, and they should certainly investigate whether they have a flaw in their design, or if there is something happening in the manufacturing process that might lead to this, something like dirty equipment that causes some defect which might lead to this, etc.

      The thing that people often forget when it comes to things like this is that Samsung must design the phones to meet standards and codes for electronic devices, and they must pass FCC inspection and testing. It isn’t like they can just throw together a bunch of crap with faulty wiring and hope no one notices. These things have been designed to standards, inspected, tested, and 99.9975% of them (assuming WAY more fires than have actually happened) are functioning without issue. It is hardly time to start flinging poo on a company and implying that they are burning the world down.

  • choyM

    That is why I avoid Samsung products like a plague.