Written on: 16/04/2013
We had the dreaded noisy fan, temperature too warm, ice build-up problem on the fridge section of a Samsung American style side by side fridge/freezer. Actually it is a RSH1NHSW model but bear with me, it is a sister to the RSH1NHMH MODEL - the only difference is the colour. It was purchased in September 2009 in Ireland costing €700. Although I was aware of and had previous experience of poor performance of Samsung equipment, we purchased this unit because the dimensions fitted (just) the available space, the colour (white) matched our other kitchen equipment and lack of an ice dispenser was also what we wanted. Had there been another make with this specification, we would have purchased this instead.
Eighteen months later and we loose the food contents of the fridge due to a warm temperature and ice build-up. So we execute a full manual defrost and all is good for a few months and then the noisy fan and we loose the food contents again. So then we get into a routine of planned manual defrosts every quarter but by late 2012 even this does not restore the cooling performance. It was time to do some research and it became apparent very quickly that this is a design issue with multiple models of Samsung fridges that has gone on for many years, so much so that there are various third parties offering DIY repair kits. There have been lawsuits and massive product recalls with some units allegedly exploding.
The Samsung website which is endlessly patronising was no help to me because it insisted that I submit the serial number of the unit. The serial number is not on any of the enclosed documentation and can only be found apparently on the lower left hand side of the unit. In my case, I could only access this be de-constructing some of the built-in section of the kitchen and I was going to incur additional cost to do this and make it good afterwards.
So I called Samsung. This was fun (not). It took three attempts and many hours to get to talk to someone. They tried every trick in the book to avoid one to one contact – well you would I suppose if you have sold hundreds of thousands of faulty units to now irate customers around the globe. Well again, the serial number was asked for and I explained my difficulty in getting it as above but I also explained that I had documented proof of purchase. This cut no ice (pardon the pun) with them and I was basically told – no serial number, get lost. I asked what was the probability that they would give me a direct replacement so I could assess if it was worth kitchen de-construction to get the stupid serial number, again I was dismissed with no answer.
I reconsidered my options. Getting a new unit from another maker would cost me €1000 or so when I add in the required kitchen modifications. Appliance DIY Repairs in the UK offer a whole range of Samsung repair kits and for my model the cost is £133. Delivery is free in the UK but is extra to Ireland so this is expensive but for me it was potentially my least worst option. I am pretty technical so fitting the repair kit was not going to be an issue. The really neat thing for me was that the repair kit could all be fitted within the fridge compartment without the need to access the back or sides so I did not have to move the unit and incur additional kitchen modification costs.
I found Andy at Appliance DIY Repairs extremely responsive and very helpful and dealing with him in contrast to Samsung was chalk and cheese. The repair kit which includes an apparently improved evaporator cover with fan, evaporator heater with thermal fuse and a defrost sensor which you install in a different location to the original also comes with an excellent set of installation instructions. Anyone that is reasonably handy should be able to fit this kit but you need to set a full day aside for it. It can take quite a long time to get rid of the ice build up. I used two hair dryers blowing close to the evaporator cover (but not touching it as this will melt the plastic) to get the cover free and I had to pour boiling water on the drain hole at the bottom of the evaporator for hours to get this clear of ice. The unit has been working fine since repair but I cannot vouch for the long-term effectiveness of the repair kit until more time passes. Given that the repair kit is also made up of Samsung components, I have no confidence that it is a permanent fix.
I estimate this Samsung mess has cost us in the region of €400 so far when I include the two batches of food wasted. In fact we have never had a good Samsung product. Our first Samsung product was a CII-5361AT/MIC television bought in November 1996. From day one had a faulty circuit board and the TV had to be hit slap here and there every other day to get a picture. The current crop of Samsung TV’s also seem to have loads of issues even on their high end units. Just Google Samsung TV clouding and banding to get an idea.
We managed to avoid Samsung products for a decade until our second Samsung product which was a DVD-VR320 VHS/DVD recorder bought specifically to archive VHS tapes to DVD in April 2006 as it was the only one available locally. The VHS deck was terrible and it made awful grainy DVD’s from the VHS tapes. The vendor (Currys) allowed to me trial their display unit but it was no better. Then I read the professional reviews and found that they had the same issue – the terrible VHS deck was not just a fault on mine but a “design feature” of all of them. It was utterly useless and sits gathering dust in the attic. We imported a Panasonic DMR EX95 VHS/DVD/HDD recorder to do the job. It is a class box and I now use it as a PVR for recording TV programmes from a set top box and archiving them to DVD.
So our third Samsung product, the poorly designed and very unreliable RSH1NHSW American style fridge/freezer will be our last.
WE WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER SAMSUNG PRODUCT EVER AGAIN.
We are careful users and tend to operate stuff by the book. Thankfully over the years other appliances we have owned (brands like Bosch, Electrolux, Zanussi, Belling, Mitsubishi, Philips, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, Apple & Dell) have given us good service and value for money, only Samsung has not. What is amazing is how Samsung gets away with this. It seems to achieve it by being highly innovative in avoiding after-sales service and in avoiding it’s customers. It’s a shame it does not deploy the same level of innovation in the design and build of the products.