Written on: 13/03/2013
I recently decided to purchase a new TV. After browsing around, I found the one I wanted (Samsung 32" Full HD SMART LED TV) at both dabs.com and Amazon.co.uk. Both were the same price, and I only picked dabs as they were offering cashback on Top CashBack.
I ordered on free delivery, and 4 days later the TV arrived. I immediately set about unpacking and setting it up. A few minutes later I'd got the base stand on and plugged it in and started running through the onscreen setup. This was a pretty painless process.
As this was my first TV that was capable of receiving Freeview HD, I was naturally curious to see what the picture was like. And this is where it all started to go wrong ...
I browsed around the channels, but could not find the HD channels at all. Freeview HD currently starts at channel 101, but the telly kept jumping from the late 80's to the 170's (where all the 'pseudo-adult' channels start).
As a bit of extra information, I live approximately 6 miles as the crow flies from the most powerful transmitter in the UK, and even when using an internal aerial I receive a flawless signal.
I wondered if maybe I'd missed a setting somewhere during the setup, so spent the the rest of that day (Friday) and the following morning going back and forth through every setting possible, resetting to factory defaults and rescanning again. Still no HD channels. I also noticed when running the scan that it kept ignoring the frequency that contained the HD channels.
At some point on Friday I emailed dabs. I received an automatic confirmation to say they'd get back to me within 24 hrs. What I didn't know is that this particular ONLINE-ONLY retailer didn't work or answer any emails over the weekend. What online retailer does this?! I could understand it if it was a retail shop ... but they're online only!
Fortunately for me, I have a friend who already has this model of TV, and has a known working HD reception, so I asked if I could take it round to his house to check it wasn't my aerial.
"Sure, no problem. Pop round when you like."
So I did. Boxed the TV back up, and jumped in the car. 10 minutes later we were plugging the TV in to his aerial and trying again. Still no HD channels. Curious.
It was at this point as the back of his telly was facing me that I noticed the model number on his TV. UE32EH5300KXXU. This is the model number dabs were (I'll get to this) advertising on their website.
Imagine my surprise then when I turned my new TV round and saw UE32EH5300WXXC on the back of mine.
At this point, my friend jumped on his PC and Googled this model number. We were both now even more surprised as every single result on Google was non-English.
Realising we were not going to get this TV to work, I boxed it back up and went home. Once I arrived home, I jumped on the PC and logged into my dabs.com account to request a replacement. As mentioned, I didn't realise dabs don't do anything at all over the weekend, so I was expecting to be able to organise a replacement immediately online, and especially as their terms & conditions also state 7 days a week for organising refunds.
So I filled out the form, and waited ... and waited ... and waited.
Nothing, no response at all, and my item still didn't say I'd organised a replacement.
I'm not the most patient of people, and I do expect prompt and courteous service, something I've come to learn I will never ever get from this particular company.
I decided to contact Samsung directly, so went on to their support site and wrote a short (much shorter than this) note to check if the TV I had actually did receive Freeview HD. Samsung (very promptly) replied to say that the model of TV I had received was not supposed to be sold in the UK as the DVB-T2 HD tuner was not compatible with UK Freeview broadcasts. This was confirmed on two separate occasions during my contact with Samsung.
I still hadn't heard anything from dabs by Sunday morning, and I was getting irritated, so I jumped back on the website and this time decided I wasn't going to accept a replacement. They'd taken too long to respond in my book, so I wanted a refund.
During this weekend, I'd also decided to write a review of the product on the site (this was before I'd realised the model number was different). I gave it a 3 star review as I couldn't get functioning HD.
I also tried to sign up on the dabs forums so I could ask for help from the community. Sadly, the forum admins don't appear to work weekends either, or ever, as my account was never activated so I couldn't even post there.
I finally got a response from dabs on Monday asking me for a photo of the URN (which showed the model number) on the box. I dutifully responded with said picture. I later received an email saying they were going to pass the picture to the warehouse team to 'check' if I'd been sent the wrong model. Obviously my word, the photographic evidence, and the model number on their website weren't good enough ...
Shortly after this I received an email from the 'Dabs Consumer Team' telling me:
"I've had to reject your review of this TV, the EH5300 we sell DOES have DVB-T2 capabilities, the TV region and therefore its capabilities is set by Samsung, one must have slipped through the net incorrectly configured."
I responded to this to inform them that while the model they were advertising would receive Freeview HD, the model they'd actually sent me never would.
I was then told by said 'Consumer Team' member, that both I AND Samsung were wrong. Funnily enough, I decided to take Samsung's word over Dabs .. being as they're the actual manufacturer.
While waiting for further responses from dabs, I decided to just pop back on to the page for the TV I'd bought, and was highly surprised to note that (with me and Samsung being wrong) dabs had removed the last four digits of the model number from the page. It now only showed UE32EH5300.
I replied to 'Consumer Team' person to enquire about this, and was simply told:
"I have removed the manufacturer code tail to eliminate customer confusion."
Confusion to who? I wasn't confused. I know what model I SHOULD have received, and I know what model I DID receive.
So not only have dabs.com denied they're selling foreign imports and calling me and the manufacturer liars, they're now hiding this from the customer by removing the code that gives the consumer the relevant information.
Feeling somewhat annoyed by now, I responded in as many words, but unfortunately made a mistake in the response and missed a word out.
"The model you sent me does not, and never will, broadcast Freeview HD in the UK"
There's a missing 'receive' before 'broadcast'.
Obviously being a professional company, this is the response I received.
"This TV does not transmit TV signals, only receive TV signals - HD Freeview."
Finally on Tuesday I received an email from 'customer services' authorising the return, and was asked what date I'd like. I responded to say as soon as possible, and please let me know.
Again I waited, and waited, and waited some more, and still no confirmation of the collection date. Roll forward to Wednesday, and I emailed them again to request they collect the TV on Friday. A simple response confirming this was all I wanted, but once more all I found was a wall of silence.
By this time I've contacted my credit card company to make them aware of the issue in case there were any problems. I wasn't going to leave anything to chance as dabs.com seemed to be dragging their heels as much as they possibly could.
After emailing dabs.com again, I finally received the confirmation I wanted. Friday it was then.
Fortunately ParcelForce's service isn't (so far) as godawful as dabs, and they turned up on Friday morning to collect, and even gave me a receipt with the tracking number.
The parcel finally arrived back at dabs.com on Tuesday morning, and I emailed dabs to let them know I knew it was there. Quite shockingly I received a response on the same day, albeit right at the end of the day to tell me they were currently processing returns from the 7th (yesterday was the 12th for those that haven't fallen asleep), and that once my item had been booked in, I'd get an email to confirm the refund.
So dabs are FIVE days behind booking in returns (three if you discount the weekend)? Seriously? Based on my most recent experience with them, I don't know why I'm even surprised, but I was still fairly speechless.
So now the wait continues, and this is where I say
I've used dabs.com in the past, although not for a few years now. Back then, while they were always pretty slow to deliver, I usually got what I asked for. I'm not sure what's happened in the intervening time. I guess some of the reviews I've seen from others are pretty true, they're OK as long as you don't have any problems.
One thing is for certain though. I will never use this company again. Not only are they slow at responding to problems, if you prove to them they're in the wrong, they will deny it and effectively call you a liar, and then they'll draw out the process of dealing with your problem for as long as they possibly can. I certainly wouldn't believe any of the reviews on the dabs.com website after this, as it appears they only publish favourable reviews.
In parting, you couldn't pay me to buy anything from this company again, however the hour it's taken me to write review this is free and gratis. I hope it gives others pause for thought.
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Written by KevMaitland