Samsung now delivers their free gifts to you in a very special way. But free gifts have a very different meaning nowadays.
You probably don’t even need to live for as long as I have to realise that the meaning of “free gift” has evolved over the years to mean something very different from what we knew as kids or young people. Whether it’s Google, Microsoft, Facebook or YouTube, your preferences are recorded and their algorithms deliver presumably appropriate advertisements right in your face. And in case you think that your credit card or discounts cards come with rewarding “points” or “cash backs”, it may annoy you to know that information on your spending habits captured every time you use those cards, are either used by the merchant to promote stuff to you, or in case of credit cards, sold to third parties so they could promote stuff to you. Win-win? That depends on how much you value your privacy. A man was once spammed by contraceptive advertisements after his teenage daughter borrowed his pharmacy membership card to buy a pregnancy test kit.
Discounts and other “privileges” are slightly easier to refuse, but what about free gifts? Recently, I discovered that Samsung has a novel way of giving their customers free gifts. I was shopping for a tablet at Funan Mall. I stepped into Courts, fiddled around with a few Lenovo tablets and after seeing some impressive specs in their Samsung Tab A7, I decided to pick up a set for my office use.
The sales staff were friendly and did quite a decent job going through some of the features of the device and similar devices with me. It would set me back $448 but it came with a “free gift” – a sleek Samsung book cover that protects and supports the device. The original costs about $68 on Shopee. Good deal?
Now here comes the catch. The shop would not give me the free gift at the time of purchase. Samsung’s free gift had to be “redeemed online”. I thought I only had to register warranty online. Why could they just let me bring the free gift home from the shop? I went back without my “free gift” and proceeded to redeem my “free gift” that very evening. I had to create an account, log in and yes, they wanted all my contact details so they could deliver it to me. That was 15 January 2021.
I did not hear from them until 28 January 2021 – that’s almost 2 weeks after my date of purchase. I received an SMS. I’m not sure whether it’s Samsung or some “subcontractor”. When I didn’t respond to their SMS, I received a call from a lady who didn’t sound like a delivery person. Anyway, she informed me that they would deliver the “free gift” to me and wanted to make sure there was someone at home and I had my redemption form/card with me.
There was certainly someone at home, but the redemption card and the device had already been moved to my office and were not at my home. I told them I did not have the redemption card with me and they insisted that they must have the redemption card before they could give me the “free gift”.
Yao mo gao chor ah? I must either be at home to receive the “free gift” or pass the redemption card to someone who will be at home. Should free gifts take so much trouble to receive? By then, I was already beginning to get an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I was pretty sure I still had the free gift redemption card at the office, but decided to test the caller by asking her what if I’ve lost the redemption card. She said that I would have to contact Samsung myself and request for a redemption card – a process which might take 50 years. Just kidding. It’ll probably just take 5 months. Anyway, she said that she would call again.
But when? Why do these people assume that the customer would have the redemption card with him? What if the device were a gift? Give away that friend’s address and contact details as well? Should I just forget it and buy a book cover online? I’m already at the losing end because they would have gotten away with baiting me for all my contact details and “saved” themselves a book cover as well. Would they even feel bad if I told them that I hate going through all that trouble and don’t want that free gift anymore? Probably not – which is why I’m sharing this publicly and hope every unsuspecting customer would be able to make an informed decision when they purchase another Samsung produce that comes with a “free gift” – with strings attached.
Update received on Wednesday 3 February 2021.
Not surprisingly, I did not hear from them on Friday. Update on Saturday 6 Febraury 2021, 3 weeks after my purchase.
Let’s hope this is the last I’ll ever hear from Samsung.