I’m sorry you had such a frustrating experience! If you had gotten in touch with support, they would’ve told you that while it’s technically possible to connect hue bulbs directly to smart things without a hue bridge, the only officially supported method uses the hue bridge, and there are a couple of technical reasons why that’s a better way to go.
The same information is also posted in the support resources on the website.
Official support article:
Entry from the official “works with SmartThings” list:
So… If you really want to use the hue bulbs with the smartthings hub without also using a Hue bridge, it’s technically doable as other people in this thread have said. But it can also cause you additional problems down the line, and to be honest, it’s just easier to go ahead and get a bridge. If you’re going to have more than a few bulbs, the additional cost isn’t that bad. (One Bridge can support up to 40 Hue devices)
Are you in the US or the UK?
SmartThings is a very powerful, flexible platform, but unfortunately not very intuitive. Next time if you get stuck on anything, come to the forum right away and people can probably help save you some time in finding the answer.