Burn Out: Samsung’s Newton says they made ‘mistakes”

Company has its feet held to the flame.

Samsung Australia’s vice president Phillip Newton (pictured) has told Fairfax Media that the company had made “mistakes” in the past 3.5 years in the handling of the Washing Machine Recall.

“The biggest mistakes we made was the process to do the refund and the process to do the replacement, covering 99% of our mistakes. We’re a $200-billion odd company and there were strict processes causing delays,” Newton said.

“We’ve now reduced the average customer resolution times from 35 to 13 days.”

Newton added that the company was still 100% confident in its Fair Trading-approved rework procedure when properly applied and dismissed the “deficient” conclusion in the crowd-funded expert report from QEC Global.

He has also rejected the push from consumer advocacy group Choice to launch a television campaign to raise awareness. Newton told applianceretailer.com in late 2015 that TV was an underwhelming influence on the consumer.

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This comes despite the company using television as a major vehicle to grow its global brand presence over the past decade.

“With ‘urgent detergent’ we have specifically targeted a type of audience we want to address and know now it’s very successful because 45% of all machines found since November have all come from that. That’s why we’re rolling it out,” he said.

He said claims that replacement washing machines were also faulty because of reports some were melting and “spinning out of control” were unfounded. He said these problems were caused by a user overloading the machine.

He also said to concerned American customers who have joined the Australian Facebook group that their machines were unrelated to the recall because affected machines were designed for the Australian market in accordance with local standards.

In interview with Fairfax, Newton declined to reveal what level of impact the country’s biggest recall had on the company’s profits and reputation.

Meanwhile, Choice welcomed Samsung’s new strategy, it was disappointed it refused to use television advertising, which would reach a large audience.

“We get the very real sense that this company cares more about managing its reputation than it does about protecting consumers from its dodgy products,” Choice head of content, Ton Godfrey said.

“Last year, we dramatically crushed two Samsung washing machines to propel the potential hazard on to the nation’s TV screens and launched a crowd funding campaign to create a television advertisement to warn consumer,” he said.

“Our decision to crowd fund a television advertisement came following research which found 47% of consumers expect to see or hear about recalls through television advertising.”

Next month, Samsung will begin reassessing 32,000 repaired machines to make sure the “fire-retardant, industry-standard polyethylene bag” has been securely fastened with tape. A team of 30 specially trained engineers will help carry out the program.

Most other repaired units have already been checked. Samsung will proactively offer a refund or replacement, in accordance with the Australian Consumer Law.

It will also establish a Sydney-based call centre to support customers through the inspection program. Customers previously spoke with staff in Manila.

It will expand its “urgent detergent” direct mail campaign to an additional 22,000 homes to try to engage the 26% of customers who have not responded to the recall.

In January, Fairfax Media revealed a blaze at an Only About Children childcare centre in Coogee was caused by a recalled Samsung washing machine that had not been repaired. Twenty-two adults and 78 children were evacuated.

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