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

By | January 10th, 2013

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.

Related story:   5 Secrets for negotiating the best price every time

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.

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