Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Samsung: Designing For Failure

I stopped buying Samsung products a few years ago. I had several of their products that when needing repairs was told by the technician quoting on the repair that my problem was a known issue. It was finally the laser printer, barely a year old, that even after being repaired wouldn't work. That was the last time I bought their products.

In 2010 our side by side Maytag refrigerator started making strange sounds and the morning I came downstairs and found a puddle on the kitchen floor that led back to the culprit, was the day my wife went looking for a new refrigerator. Refrigerators are not what they used to be. I will always remember the little GE my aunt and uncle had in Seattle. You know the one with the little cube of a freezer. That poor thing ran for years, decades in fact. When asked why he didn't replace it my uncle would say, why? It still works! We will never see those days again.

Samsung Condenser Unit
Samsung Fan Unit

Today, my three year old $1800 Samsung refrigerator with "french doors" and a bottom freezer had it's control unit replaced. Good thing too. It was getting as warm inside as out. When the Geek Squad tech lady pulled it out, she said it was good thing because, as you can see, the entire fan was frozen. The refrigerator part was not working in any way. However, before she could install the new unit she had to literally use a form of hair dryer to melt all the ice that had formed around the condenser. What a mess. Foam insulation, water, ice all inside and outside a three year old refrigerator that had done nothing in all its life but sit in the same spot in the kitchen. Her warning to me was in the future I really DO recommend the extended contract on any of these appliances. These machines, actually computers in a variety of guises, don't hold up anymore. You think?

It all boils down to how these things are designed. Its as simple as that. Someone or someones designed these things and then they were manufactured. I don't know if a prototype is made and tested but I would have to say, based on my experience, no. Hey, maybe they can be sold on Etsy or CraftStar now! Isn't that their new criteria? You can design something but anyone can make it and you sell it?

Considering the history of companies like Samsung who have flagrantly copied just about everything they make, poached on patents and then counter sue to hide that fact, it would appear their "designs" are merely copies and not very good ones at that. Kinda like AT&T that says they cover 97% of the United States with their cell service. They may, but NOT very well. They consistently rank the worst of all cell carriers.

Why do we reward such mediocre products or services? Because cell phones have a bigger screen, one you can barely hold the phone in your hand, it will not fit in a pocket and has the battery life of a gnat. Or the TV screen that in three years develops blue lines on one side. The list can do on and on. How about the refrigerator that freezes up because the design of its controls guarantee it will!

As I have said so often here, we can never get away from design and after walking around the ruins of ancient Rome or Greece or Egypt never have. Once man made the decision to group together, it was quickly discovered that they had to organize how they lived. People designed protocols and later laws to live by. Cities and everything that was used in them was designed. Someone had to design the streets, carts, buildings that were used and that we might see even today.

Today, it is hard to decide what is good and what is not. We look at the ratings online, or trust Consumer Reports though every product they rated highest my experience was the opposite and I stopped following them. There is Amazon or CNET and many many others. All I can council is that you do the best due diligence you can. If you, like me get a shoddy product rather than just shrugging it off, complain. I have read that for every complaint there are 10 to 20 that were not filed. We should ask for and expect excellence. Reward those that give it and stop buying from those that don't.

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