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Is Samsung a bad appliance brand?

If you've been shopping the upcoming Black Friday appliance deals and researching the various manufacturers, you've probably noticed that Samsung is very polarizing in the appliance industry. People either love this brand or hate it, but why?

Samsung kitchen package featuring a Samsung refrigerator, microwave, range oven and dishwasher
A current Samsung Kitchen Package

The ice-maker issue

A major concern with previous models of Samsung refrigerators was a tendency for the ice makers to "freeze up" and stop working until they were completely thawed. Obviously, this was a major inconvenience because customers had to find somewhere to keep their frozen food while they thawed their ice makers.

A frozen Samsung ice maker
Ice build up in Samsung refrigerator ice maker

Some customers used hot water, while others resorted to more unconventional methods, like steam mops and hair dryers, to get their ice makers up and running again.

A woman uses her hair dryer to thaw her icemaker in her Samsung french door refrigerator
A woman uses her hair dryer to thaw her icemaker

A class action lawsuit was was filed in 2017 against Samsung over the faulty ice makers, issues with temperature regulation in the refrigerators causing food to spoil prematurely and water leaking to other parts of the refrigerator.

These types of issues were prominent in the Samsung appliance models of the 20-teens and were a massive blow to the companies reputation.

So that means Samsung is a bad brand then, right?

Not necessarily. This is a case where context is important. From Whirlpool to GE, there isn't an appliance brand that exists today that hasn't had widespread issues with one of their product lines. With Samsung being a younger brand, it simply had the misfortune of having a major issue in the era of online reviews and social media. The older more established brands have had issues that were just as bad or worse, but they issued recalls and the problems were lost to history. That just doesn't happen in the digital age. If you Google "Samsung appliances" today, you still see the same 5-year-old articles about issues that have since been fixed, or at least minimized.

Another key piece of context to consider is the scale of the issue. In the 20-teens Samsung was making a major push to increase their market share. They were one of the top selling appliance brands of the era, and as a result were mass producing appliances on a scale that hadn't been seen before. Any time a product is mass produced there is potential for human error and manufacturing defects, and as more of that product hits the market these defects will seem more common than they actually are.

Maytag, a brand considered reliable by many, even features a repairman in their most successful ad campaign

Think about it this way: The average mechanic works on WAY more Honda Civics than Lamborghinis, but that doesn't mean Civics are bad cars. They just have a much larger market share.

Due to this mass production effect, modern appliances have a new-in-box failure rate between 4% and 8%. So between the best and work brands there is only about a 4% difference in the failure rate of a brand new appliance. This means that while a popular brand may fail at the same rate as a lesser known brand, the quantity of defective machines will be higher, and therefor more visible, for the popular brand.

Samsung is now well rated by Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.

Samsung's free standing ranges are top rated by J.D. Power for ease of use, features and settings, performance, reliability, price, and styling. Six of their top freezer and side-by-side refrigerators are currently recommended by Consumer Reports, typically receiving "Very Good" or "Excellent" performance ratings in their tests. This doesn't mean that the brand is perfect, but is a good sign that they are actively working on the known performance issues and improving.

Service after the sale is often overlooked

It is highly unlikely that you will receive a defective appliance from most modern brands, but if you do, customer service will likely make or break your outlook on the brand. This is why we recommend an independent appliance retailer instead of a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes. A local appliance store will help you work with the manufacturer to get your issue resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Customers tend to be understanding of the fact that things don't always go perfectly, as long as the problem is resolved in a reasonable amount of time. Often, it is when repairs and resolution drag on that customers begin to have a negative association with a brand. This is were Samsung does get dinged as well. Service and parts availability can be a problem for customers in less populated areas.

The Bottom Line

Modern Samsung appliances are just as reliable as most of the other brands on the market. Beware of their refrigerators from the late 20-teens, but most of the negativity you see about the brand is leftover sentiment from an issue that has been mostly resolved. Their current line offers high end features at a very competitive price, allowing them to retain a place as one of the most popular appliance brands in the world

If you have a Samsung appliance, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of it!

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