My washer/dryer is a few features short — do I deserve a partial refund?

Matteo Volpone/Shutterstock
Matteo Volpone/Shutterstock
Question: I bought a Samsung washer/dryer by phone recently, but I used the Samsung website to research the specs. The Samsung website clearly stated that the dryer I chose has steam-dry technology, which detects the moisture level in the load and adjusts the drying time to save time and money.

Well, the dryer arrived yesterday, and it didn’t have the steam functionality it promised.

Samsung said the website is apparently in error and this model does not have steam-dry technology. A Samsung representative told me that after reviewing the notes on my account and reviewing the page that I referenced when I made the purchase, they were not bound by what was on the site. He noted that at the bottom of the page, under “overview and features,” it says, “Features and specifications are subject to change without prior notification.”

Samsung apologized for the confusion and the experience, but beyond that, it offered nothing more.

My take is that I bought a dryer in good faith that had certain features. Samsung did not deliver those features. It works just fine; it is just not what they told me I would be buying. It’s a good washer/dryer, but I would like Samsung to offer me a price differential. Should I just fold my tent and slink away, or is there a way to pursue this? — Carol Blue, Ladys Island SC

Answer: Samsung should have sold you the washer/dryer you purchased when you called the company. I think its apology is meaningless if it doesn’t do something to fix the problem.

A meaningful apology can include saying you’re sorry, promising to update the website, or offering a price difference between the model you thought you bought and the one you ended up with. But as far as I can tell, Samsung did none of those things.

Unfortunately, almost all of the communication with the company had been by phone, so the only proof you had was a link to the Samsung site with the washer/dryer that had the erroneous features.

I asked you to contact the company by email, and it responded quickly by asking you to call it. When you did, it just repeated its denial. Very tricky, and a great way to avoid creating a paper trail.

At that point, I decided to get involved. Now, some of my readers with long memories are probably thinking, “Wait a second … isn’t this like one of those airfare errors that Chris is always telling us to avoid?”

Not really. This isn’t like those erroneous $1 fares to Hong Kong that get published on Flyertalk, and which entitled elites steal by the dozen. Oh, did I say “steal”? Sure did.

Your motives matter. You didn’t buy this washer/dryer for $1 or even $100. The price difference was only about $150, and you didn’t have a clue that Samsung had made a mistake. Also, you didn’t buy a truckload of these dryers, hoping to capitalize on Samsung’s error. In your case, you just thought you’d found a good price on a machine. That was a reasonable assumption.

I’m also troubled by Samsung’s reaction. It just said, “tough luck” without promising to fix the site. So it’s possible you aren’t the first, nor will you be the last, to be disappointed. I don’t think that’s right.

I contacted Samsung. A representative called you, apologized again, and offered you a $150 American Express gift card, which you accepted.

Did Samsung do enough to fix the problem?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Steve rabin

    Isn’t offering one unit and pulling it back and sending another a bait and switch tactic? Isn’t this against the law?

  • Bali Villa Holidays

    The gift card would be a good appeasement for one client but how about those others who expect the same from the product they published then get short of it. Apparently, since the customer reported it, normally the web admin should take action immediately to fix it in their website or be labeled as false advertising for a product.

  • foggybear

    Why was the OP dealing with the manufacturer and not the merchant for her refund? It would be in the retailer’s best interest to make things right for the customer, and I’m sure the retailer would have more pull with Samsung to get the errors corrected.
    Of course, I have a real problem with Samsung hiding behind a disclaimer that basically says they can advertise a Rolls Royce, deliver you a Yugo, and laugh all the way to the bank. This is not a typo, it is false advertising.

  • Berkinet

    They should have offered the OP the choice of a refund of the price difference ($150) or the correct dryer at the price paid. This was, intended or not, bait-and-switch and disclaimers like features may vary are not intended to cover significant differences.

  • Blackadar

    “Features and specifications are subject to change without prior notification” is not a get out of jail free card. When the features or specifications change substantially, to the detriment of the consumer, that’s misrepresentation. That’s not legally protected. Samsung is lucky she took the gift card, because she could have sued them under existing precedent.

  • TonyA_says

    I think I am a bit confused. You buy a model that is supposed to have a feature that the website said it should have but it didn’t. You complain, get an ombudsman, and the company gives you almost real money for their mistake. So my question is, why isn’t the money enough? Should you really demand that Samsung fix their website? Maybe they will add steam dry or something like that in the next production run. Maybe you should simply take the money and enjoy washing clothes with you new appliance.

  • EdB

    I’m confused by your response. You *don’t* think part of a meaningful apology would Samsung fixing the website that has an obvious error so others are not duped into buying something without a feature and face the same situation?

  • EdB

    I was thinking the same thing. Using Samsung’s logic with the disclaimer, they could have sent her a clothes line to hang her clothes on to dry and just said the features have changed and what they sent her will still dry her clothes.

  • EdB

    They actually sent the correct unit. However, the description of what was sent was incorrect. It wasn’t she ordered unit A with feature F but they sent her unit B without F. It was they said unit A had a feature it did not but still sent her unit A.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes. As long as they make me whole, it is not my responsibility how they fix their website. For one thing, in a very, very large company, the customer service department who will give you shutup money may have nothing to do or have no contact with the website department.

    If you read Samsungs response, they did not even think they were fooling anyone with their one line disclosure statement. Indeed anyone who buys a dryer that claims steam cycle wrinkle removal should check the control panel if it has that option. If it does not then return the unit or ask for compensation. So if Samsung believes they have the right to change features, then let them. If you think you were misled then sue them. But I will not tell them what they have to do or how to run their business.

  • TonyA_says

    Re: Unfortunately, almost all of the communication with the company had been by phone, so the only proof you had was a link to the Samsung site with the washer/dryer that had the erroneous features.

    FYI the website is still wrong as of today. Go to
    Read the BS about that model.
    Steam Dry Helps Freshen Clothes and Remove Wrinkles
    Steam Refresh helps remove odors and freshens clothes. Steam Wrinkle Away relaxes wrinkles to reduce ironing.
    Then go to the specifications page.

    Look it does NOT say it has Steam Dry Cycle.


    Total Capacity: 7.4 cu. ft. Sensor Dry Drum Material: Stainless Steel 13 Preset Drying Cycles 5 Temperature Setting Options Venting System: 4 Way Towels Dry Cycle 

    Essentially it only has sensor dry and timer dry. NO STEAM DRY!

    Samsung has 56 dryer models in their US website. They are a conglomerate, a Korean Chaebol, that runs hundreds of business lines. Good luck talking to a Korean department in English that’s handling that division’s products.

  • Guest

    I must have missed in the story where they stated the model she bought. How do you know that this is the unit she bought or are you just making an assumption again? Maybe they already fixed the entry for the one she was looking at.

  • Guest

    Personally, I don’t think the disclaimer “Features and specifications are subject to change without prior notification.” applies unless the stated feature or spec was there to begin with.

  • TonyA_says

    Go to the website and figure it out.

  • Helio

    It seems the OP bought the dryer via website, then checking the control panel wasn’t an option (the image in the gallery isn’t good enough for it).

    When I buy things via internet, I usually download the manual prior purchasing to try to avoid any problem and/or misunderstanding, but I know that almost nobody does it.

  • Guest

    In other words, you’re just making another bad assumption again. Did it also say this OP was a math professor?

  • Guest

    Way to watch out for number 1 Tony.

  • TonyA_says

    If you cannot see the dial, you can at least go to the specifications page and read the exact specs. Also steam dry need a water connection, so if your unit does not have one, then you cannot produce steam.

  • john4868

    Without knowing the model the OP actually bought, its hard to comment on Samsung’s website and what it might or might not say about that model. My general statement is this, the OP deserves whatever the website listed as options on the day she bought it. I don’t think that their assertion that their little disclaimer allows them to substitute a differently featured item passes the laugh test. Under that line of thinking, they could send you a base model for the top of the line price.

    Now the only question is what the website said regarding the particular product she purchased.

  • TonyA_says

    Clothesline, really?

  • calbff

    Exactly. While not likely intentional, I doubt they’d have a legal leg to stand on.

  • S E Tammela

    Having dealt with Samsung “from the other side” (as a repairer) I can assure you this is not their standard attitude. In fact, their customer service is far better than most of their competitors. My suspicion is that they have outsourced the customer service department with whom Carol spoke, to some third party in the USA. I hope that Samsung representatives further up the food chain are paying attention and having a quiet word with whomever was so dismissive of Carol’s requests.

  • calbff

    Healthy thought process there.

  • BillCCC

    I voted yes. The consumer said the dryer worked fine and accepted the compensation. If she did not want the appliance she should have returned it immediately for a refund and purchased a different model.

    Samsung should have provided compensation without Chris having to get involved. Good Job Chris.

  • TonyA_says

    Re: The Samsung website clearly stated that the dryer I chose has steam-dry technology, which detects the moisture level in the load and adjusts the drying time to save time and money.

    Apparently the OP is confused. Steam dry releases STEAM to refreshen clothes or to remove wrinkles in clothes. In other words you are introducing moisture to dry clothes to have its intended effect.

    Sensor Dry is the feature that detects the moisture in the wet clothes you are drying. Clothes get dry by moving hot air in the chambers. In the process the wetness or humidity is removed. There is an electrical sensor in the chamber that the clothes touch. If the clothes are wet, they conduct electricity. When they get dry, they don’t.

    Most modern dryers have some kind of moisture sensors. But steam wrinkle removers are usually seen only at the high end models.

    If the OP cannot distiguish between these two completely different features, it is no wonder she probably did not read or understand the specifications on her exact model.

  • TonyA_says

    Go to the US Samsung website and look at the different dryer models. It seems that Samsung uses a general features top page and you must click on specifications to see exactly which feature is included on your particular model. There is only 56 dryer models to choose from :-)
    Confusing YES. Bait and Switch, NO. For as long as the specs of your exact model is correct in the sales sheet, the sale is clean.

  • Jason Hanna

    Samsung’s US call center is based in Greenville, SC. You might get southern English, but, it’ll be English.

  • TonyA_says

    My dryer broke at the height of hurricane Sandy. I just repaired my Maytag dryer which has a similar sensor instead of buying the Samsung or LG. I realized I did not want or need the steam feature so I kept my old dryer and just changed the parts. That’s why I know about these dryers.
    PS I did the repairs myself.

  • Charles B

    We’re missing something. Where did she buy the dryer? Did they have the correct specs on the dryer, and she went shopping to Samsung’s website hoping to get more than she paid for? That would explain going after Samsung for a refund if the original seller had the right info.

  • TonyA_says

    Where is the webmaster, in NJ? Korea? You think they talk to each other?

  • Christopher Elliott

    Ah, so you like my photo?

  • emanon256

    Chris, I liked today poll. Tricky, I almost missed the answer I wanted to vote for. Made me think.

    Assuming the feature that was listed was not present, I am actually quite shocked at Samsung’s response. There is a difference between features changing on a model, and listing the wrong features entirely. Sounds almost scam like. Also, when companies make substitutions, don’t they usually substitute a better model for the same price, not a worse one? I think Samsung is having some major ethics issues if this is the case. Maybe they are just upset because Apple keeps suing them, but they should not be taking it out on customers.

  • TonyA_says

    Best during spring and summer. Clothes and sheets smell better.
    By the way, why didn’t her Samsung dealer help her?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I thought it was particularly inspired.

  • emanon256

    Actually, there is a box that you open and fill a tiny tank with water. Its very annoying and a waste of time in my opinion. I looked at them at the store, and bought a cheaper model without it. It would be easier if you had to hook it up to a water line. Run it with no water, and you burn out the boiler.

  • emanon256

    I think she is confusing the steam cleaning with the sensor dry. I though all models had the sensor dry. The steam dry is just a gimmick.

  • emanon256

    While I wish they would fix it, I agree with you. Its just another case of 1 person trying to take on a multi-national conglomerate. We all wish we could, but its impossible. Like the time my mom ordered the waiter at Chilli’s to change their salad dressing recipe. She really thought she could get them to do it. I tried explaining the corporate structure and how a waiter can not change a recipe. My poor Mom still thought she could get them to do it.

  • TonyA_says

    The salesguy told me it had a Y connector to join the cold water hose of the washer.
    I thought it was another leak problem to worry about.
    In the Samsung website the 484 and 476 models have the same MSRP.
    So you are not paying a price difference for steam on the largest models.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Hi Tony. Hate to argue with you, but when I looked at their website, I only came up with 15 different models. But, right away, I looked at the exact same dryer you found, but in white rather than stainless platinum – and the specs do say “Steam Dry”: for $1099 rather than $1199.

    But if you go to the dryer *you* listed and then use the feature in the middle of the page to select color: White and click there, that link doesn’t mention Steam Dry. So – your link doesn’t show Steam Dry. When you click on “white” from your link, it shows Steam Dry. Going in from scratch as I did, you come up with Steam Dry in both white and platinum. It’s very confusing, and I suspect I could figure it out if I printed out pages and compared the last few digits of each model shown.

    I really don’t have time today to go online shopping for somebody else’s dryer and make guesses what they bought, BUT – that website is seriously screwed up. I normally hold the opinion that people ought to pay more attention to what they’re buying or signing, but Samsung’s website is really to blame here. If I were the OP, I’d be chatting with my Attorney General’s office about what looks to me to be bait and switch tactics.

  • Michael__K

    Unless it’s a big merchant with high volume and clout, dealing with the merchant may not be an option.

    I had a disastrous experience when I bought a lemon of a refrigerator from Samsung a few years ago. The merchant was outwardly sympathetic but they firmly insisted I deal with Samsung because they claimed otherwise they stood to be left eating the loss.

    Despite a clear warranty guarantee, it took over 3 months and many lies and broken promises (including a couple of scheduled repair appointments where no one showed up) and a credit card dispute and a letter to my state’s attorney general’s office before I finally got a (new) working fridge.

    The new fridge has been working fine for 3 years, but I’ve vowed to avoid doing any business with Samsung or the merchant I used going forward.

  • emanon256

    Maybe that is one of the features that’s subject to change, they made it better. It was 2 years ago we got our new washer and dryer. What I liked in the Samsung was how quiet it was (or so they told us). But we ended up going with the LG. It was cheaper for the same features. The sensor dry doesn’t work too well though, the clothes are often still wet when it says they are done. So I just give them an extra 10 minutes in timed dry, problem solved.

    I miss our old Maytags, but when we moved the buyer wanted them.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    See my reply to Tony, just a few seconds ago.

    I’m not really sure why anyone would pay money for Steam Dry or Steam Wrinkle. My wet clothes automatically steam as they dry. Duh. I can do the same thing as Steam Wrinkle by putting a wet washcloth in with whatever dry item I need to bounce around and de-wrinkle.

  • TonyA_says

    Yup. Just buy one of those garment steamers from Costco. You can steam a whole dress or gown in a few minutes. Also most of the clothes you steam are not placed in a dryer. Actually, she is lucky she did not buy the steam model :-)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    As re your sensor: Check your vent to make sure nothing’s clogged up. Tip from my last issue of Family Handyman.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I think steam dry is a gimic. It’s virtually impossible to replicate a steamer when the clothes are all wadded up in the dryer. And the OP’s explanation of what steam dry is is incorrect. The money-saving feature that regulates the cycle time based on humidity level doesn’t use a steamer and has been around for years. I have an old Kenmore from the early 90s that has that feature. Steam dry theoretically gets wrinkles out of the clothes and it uses more energy in doing so.

  • Joe

    How about just disputing the charge on your credit card and telling that they can certainly come and get their machine at their time and expense?

  • TonyA_says

    I read 1099 for both models in White.
    You need to compare the same colors for each model.
    DV484ETHAWR/A1 versus DV476ETHAWR/A1
    The specs of the 476 does not include the steam features.
    But if you read the MARKETING bullet points they make it appear it has.
    I got 56 models by clicking the dryers check box. That number appears on the right of the screen.
    Note I am using an android samung tablet.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    “Note I am using an android samung tablet”

    Well, there’s your problem! :)

    Still don’t have time to online shop, but my point was that if you pick a model and color and then click within the page to see what the other color looks like, the features seem to change between the colors. Poorly designed website and very confusing.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s why she was complaining over a useless feature. Now if she overpaid for the model she got then that is a different story. My reading of the Samsung site tells me the models cost the same.

  • TonyA_says

    I open my dryer completely every year and vacuum everything. I also use compressed air from a compressor to blow the guts of the heating element and fan duct housing.
    I check the belt and all the bearings. I check the wiring and replace anything that is brittle.
    Works new for a maytag that’s about 25 years old.
    The manager at home depot told me that I would be a fool to let my Maytags go.
    They have moved with me from TN,CA, to CT.
    I have replaced many parts including the motors.
    I have my washer and dryer parts schematics in my mind. Same with my fridge and dishwasher.
    I do repair and maintenance myself.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    And by day, you’re mild mannered Tony A. – Travel Consultant. :)

  • TonyA_says

    Exactly. Samsung’s guilty of having a confusing website.
    Does anyone need an ombudsman to point it out and fix it?
    I pity the call center employee on the other end.
    They usually deal with repairs and not website issues.
    Sometimes people who complain they are being screwed are just confused.
    I suspect this is the case here.

  • emanon256

    Good call, thanks. I usually check it regularly, but its been a few months.

  • Suzanne De Pee

    What Samsung really should have done was offer to have the incorrectly represented item picked up, delivering the model WITH those features that were missing–if that would satisfy the customer. Cash back or not, the buyer still does not have the machine features he/she thought they were getting or wanted. If buyer chose the refund in the form of an AN gift card, then the solution was fine. Give the buyer the choice.

  • Miami510

    If they persist in their defending misrepresentation by claiming defense of a notice at the bottom of the page, I”d suggest taking them to small claims court. Give them back the washer and then go out and buy one that you wanted in the first place.

  • bodega3

    She bought this online? Did she shop it locally first to see what she was going to purchase? Washer and dryers have become so complicated and their panels look like that of a aircraft’s dash. I would certainly be more diligent in checking around, asking questions on an appllance like this and not buy it site unseen, especially if purchasing it online. Most appliance stores price match and to have someone local to call is worth it.

  • TonyA_says

    She wrote that she researched it online but phoned to buy.
    She obviously was confused with the features of each model and what the features do.
    To me this could be a frivolous complaint. We have not heard the dealer’s nor Samsung’s side of the story.Note she was asking for a price differential but could not identify the models that would be compared.

  • bodega3

    I recently bought a new Bosch double oven. I wasn’t looking for this particular model but saw it at Lowe’s, got a price, came home and researched it online. I went back to Lowe’s twice when what the Lowe’s salesperson told me and the online site didn’t match. I then when to a REAL applicance store who also sells the same product and found out the correct information. They price matched Lowe’s, so no brainer on how I would make my purchase. These purchases are just to expensive to trust online if particulars are important to you.

  • DChamp56

    Once again, did she PAY with AE Gift cards? If not, give her back what she paid in!!!!
    When will someone in the know (legal people) make a LAW to this effect?

  • TonyA_says

    I also found out that manufacturers put a slightly different part number for the warehouses (i.e. Costco, home depot, etc.) and will have some features missing.
    It is very difficult to compare without a spec sheet.
    Right now I am looking to upgrade my rice cooker. For just one brand, zojirushi, there are so many models. And that is only a rice cooker.

  • bodega3

    Mattresses, carpet, refrigerators are three that I have found to make it very difficult to price shop as the manufacturer and the store have special products that can only be purchased at that particular store. Walmart is doing this, as well as Target. It isn’t just applicances, as I am finding this with food products, too. There is one major food staple product that I can get for less at Target and is also a larger size, so more for your money, that no other grocery store around here is selling. Things are achanging!

  • Adam_The_Man

    Dude, an AE Gift Card is as good as cash. Its safer than sending cash. And I am guessing she paid by credit card, and she got refunded by credit card. Also Samsung can’t refund her original form of payment since she bought it from a retailer.

  • Adam_The_Man

    Total Scam. Samsung is hiding behind their disclaimer and marketing more than they are selling. Glad to see she got the price difference back. If I were her, I woudl have held out for the actual dryer I ordered.

  • Lindabator

    Said they booked directly with them over the phone. So no backup!

  • Raven_Altosk

    Yeah, that’s what confused me about this article. It sounds like OP has her features mixed up.

  • y_p_w

    Just try comparing mattresses. They’re the most customized product that I can think of. Most mattresses are actually made to order, and every retailer sells a slightly different model such that it’s impossible to do a true price comparison.

    I once bought a mattress directly from a sale at our local Spring Air factory. I got to see the factory floor from a window in the showroom. The parts are basically selected individually and they piece them together. There are literally thousands of different combinations that can be applied, including spring type, coil count, padding type/thickness, cover design, cover material, etc. The “models” that they were selling for this special event were probably combinations that were set up specifically for this event.

    The one thing that ticks me off is that consumer mattresses are only one-sided now. Hotels can still order double-sided mattresses. A properly turned two-sided mattress can last 20 years. A properly turned single-sided mattress might last 7 years because it can’t be flipped.

  • y_p_w

    Don’t know where else to pose this question, but what happened to the “Search” feature?

  • y_p_w

    Wal-Mart was famous for having Vlasic make a special 1 gallon jar of pickles, and threatened to stop carrying their products if Vlasic stopped pricing to Wal-Mart so they could sell them at $2.97.

    The unintended consequence was that it was eating into supermarket sales of their smaller jars that were actually sold at a higher margin and was threatening to put them out of business. Eventually they were allowed to reduce the size, but still declared bankruptcy.

  • TonyA_says

    While the call center employee might have been an idiot, a quick scan of Samsung’s website will reveal the (probable) problem and it suggests a different set of “facts”

    On the Samsumg Dryers Webpage there is only one model where there is a discrepancy. Model DV476.

    On the white color,
    note that the Product Features highlights and the Specifications do NOT match.
    The Features talks about Steam Dry, whereas the Specifications mentions Sensor Dry. See pic below.
    This model’s MSRP is $1099. The OP likely paid this price.
    If she believed she was fooled by Samsung, then the CORRECT model (of the same body type) that has the steam dry is DV484. It also costs $1099.
    From what I can tell, they are exactly the same dryer but one does not have steam dry. So I have no idea why the OP says the steam dry model costs $150 more.

    There is no other dryer on the Samsung webpage that has this discrepancy between the features and specification pages.
    Of the models costing about $1K or more only the DV476 and DV456 do NOT have steam dry. Of these 2 only the DV476 website is “feature mislabeled”. But remember, the SPECIFICATIONS are correct.
    In other words, the OP was probably not over-billed for what she bought.
    And if she had wanted STEAM DRY, all she had to do is order the other model DV484 for the same exact price.

    For most of Elliott’s articles, you need to dig more facts so you can understand the issues better.

  • TonyA_says

    Emanon, I remember talking to Maytag about Sensor Dry many moons ago because I complained of the same issue – it was not completely dry when it stopped.

    They told me that is made like that by design.
    When you use Sensor Dry, the first time it stops the clothes are still humid. The reason is that they give you the opportunity to take out clothes that might shrink. So you need to remove them and hang them. Then you can start the dryer again with the rest of the clothes and they will come out completely dry on the next “ding” (stop).
    Mine has a setting that says MORE DRY. If I set it to that, the clothes are dry on the first stop.
    Hope this explains the confusion.

  • TonyA_says

    Picture of discrepancy between Features and Specifications

  • Joe_D_Messina

    She got the dryer she ordered.

  • DebbieC

    My father also had a difficult experience with his Samsung refrigerator. It took a lot of persistence to get them to replace it.

  • Joshua

    Well, you’d think that the customer service department, in that case, would complain to the website department and say, “Hey, we’re out $150 because you guys messed up. You need to fix the web site before any other consumers start demanding refunds for the problem you caused.”

  • TonyA_says

    I cannot find where the $150 is coming from in the Samsung website. Yes there is an error (or a confusing section) in the website. But the price of the units are the same.

  • backprop

    Are you a bot? That’s all you ever say. This is not a refund; it is a token of making amends.