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Samsung Galaxy Note7 product malfunction

27 Sep 2016

In August 2016 Samsung launched Galaxy Note7, within days there were reports of the phones exploding. Within a couple of weeks, Samsung had issued a recall of the phone. This is affecting millions of consumers worldwide, and how Samsung is trying to resolve it differs dependent on where in the world you are. We have outlined the situation as we know it below and the global differences in the response from Samsung. 

Samsung Galaxy Note7 product malfunction: Where and how are consumers being affected?

Samsung shipped 2.5 million units of Galaxy Note7, to retailers in several markets, with 1 million of those units reaching consumers, before announcing a recall of all of the 2.5 million units due to an error in production. The production error allegedly resulted in pressure being placed on the plates contained within the battery cells, putting the negative and positive poles into contact, causing excessive heat and products catching fire.

According to Bloomberg, Samsung have said to regulators “the phone’s battery was slightly too big for its compartment and the tight space pinched the battery”.
In the UK, USA, Australia and South Korea, there have been reports of more than 100 incidents, serious damage sustained to property, as well as harm to individuals.

A consumer’s Jeep caught fire and was utterly destroyed in St Petersburg, USA, and over $A1800 Australian Dollars’ worth of damage was caused to a hotel room in Perth, Australia. The consumer in Australia had lodged an application with Samsung when the recall was officially announced, and the incident happened three days later. Whilst a six year old in New York City was rushed to hospital with burns as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 “exploded in his hands”, and a California man suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his leg, finger and thumb, when his phone exploded in his pocket.

So far news coverage suggests that Samsung has covered the bill for the hotel room and that they have yet to pay to replace the Jeep. There has been no concrete reporting of whether compensation has been given for injuries that have occurred, though the man who sustained severe burns has been reported as saying he will sue Samsung.

What are Samsung doing to inform affected consumers?

Samsung has set up an exchange programme where affected customers can swap their Galaxy Note7’s, for another phone.

What the replacement will be depends on which country you are in, with some customers being offered a new Galaxy Note7 with a new battery, other customers being offered older models of the phone, such as the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, and in some cases customers are offered temporary phones for free while they wait for a new Galaxy Note7 with a new battery.

The exchange programme won’t be complete for another couple of weeks, with safe replacement products being rolled out to different countries from 19th September 2016 onwards. So we must be vigilant in ensuring that all consumers affected have been treated fairly and effectively.

Read how Samsung is responding where there have been incidents of damage and injury reported

What about consumers in countries where it hasn’t been released or where incidents haven’t been reported?

Across Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific, Samsung are inconsistent in warning consumers.

In Latin America where the product has yet to be launched, some countries have been warned about the faulty phones, like Mexico, but other countries, such as Paraguay, weren’t.

In African markets they only chosen to warn consumers in Egypt and Libya that there has been a product recall and that they might be affected.

In Asia Pacific they have warned customers to differing degrees in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Macau, but haven’t warned customers in Japan or Thailand and many other countries in the region.

Samsung could argue the reason they have not informed some consumer audiences is because they have yet to launch products in these places, but as they indicate in their own communications to Egyptian, Libyan and Australian audiences, they are a global company offering a product that can be bought and consumed anywhere in the world.

There is an inconsistency in how they communicate what is happening with consumers not only globally, but also within regions.

Are Samsung being consistent and responsible?

It is clear from Samsung’s varied approach to the recall and exchange programme that different levels of customer service are available to different markets. The opportunity for customers to check whether their phone is affected by inputting their IMEI number into a database is a useful tool but is not available to all of Samsung’s customers, with some audiences completely unaware that there has been a fault in the initial product launch which may affect their decision to purchase the product.

If you have any more information on this issue please conatct fbrookes@consint.org 

 



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