Samsung customers were asked to power down and turn in their Galaxy Note 7 phones immediately.
In return, they could get a new phone, or a refund.
But when a North Texas woman took all the proper steps to make that happen, she was left on hold for months.
From the TV, to the stereo and even her kids phones, there's one brand Maria Puentes prefers over the rest. Samsung. The faithful Samsung customer was in the market for a new cell phone, so naturally, she stuck with what she knows.
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"I wanted the Note 7," she said. "We were all waiting for it, because it was the newest hottest thing out."
She went to the T-Mobile store in Rowlett and purchased the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for $881. But before she could even get acquainted with her brand new device, reports of the phones, overheating, catching fire and exploding lead to one of the biggest recalls of 2016.
"I'm noticing that my phone is getting, feeling too hot and I'm beginning to worry," she said.
And then Puentes said she received a text message from T-mobile, urging customers to power down, and return the phones immediately.
"It said urgent for me not to use it anymore. So I thought, I do have to take care of this."
On its website, Samsung says:
"All customers are entitled to a full refund through all our operator and retail partners...Customers who purchased their Galaxy Note 7 from another retailer should return to that place of purchase."
"So, I decided to go back to the store where I bought it," Puentes says.
What she thought would be a simple return, turned into months of frustration. Puentes said T-Mobile wouldn't process the return because the order exceeded $300. She was told to call customer service.
"They told me to go back to the store. I said I did, and they sent me to [customer service]," she said.
Consumers in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York reached out to NBC stations with similar stories.
Puentes finally got a hold of a supervisor who sent her a shipping label. All she needed to do was ship the phone, and she'd get her refund within 7 to 10 business days. She shipped the package and a day later it was received and signed by "Robinson," but T-mobile apparently wasn't buying it.
"I kept calling and would say, "OK, well you guys already received the phone," and they would say, "Well we don't show any proof of it,'" she said.
Puentes sent in her proof, but that didn't work either.
"It's $881 and I still don't have it," she said.
So the NBC 5 Responds team reached out to T-Mobile to find out what happened to her refund. An official said:
"Out of respect for our customers' privacy we cannot provide details, but you are welcome to follow up with Ms. Puentes."
A few days later, the $881 reappeared in Puentes' account. She also got a call from T-Mobile's President's Office that day and an apology for all her troubles.
She still doesn't know how the mix-up happened, but she's grateful to have her refund. As for her new phone, it's a Samsung Galaxy S7.
"We all make mistakes so I'm willing to give them another chance," says Puentes.
If you're still holding on to a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 or having problems with your return, here's what you want to remember:
- Make sure you keep your receipts when you make a purchase or when you make a return. These can make the difference if you run into issues.
- If you're shipping your phone back to Samsung or a retailer, track the package and keep the document as proof.
- You can contact Samsung. Their customer service line for Samsung Note 7 refunds is 844-365-6197.