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Samsung offers reward, return kit amid Note 7 smartphone recalls

Published:Friday | October 14, 2016 | 10:00 AM
This September 8, 2016, photo, shows a damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7. (Joni Gantz Barwick via AP)

Samsung offers reward, return kit amid Note 7 recalls

Samsung Electronics said on Thursday it has expanded its recall of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the United States to include all replacement devices the company offered as a presumed safe alternative after the original Note 7s were found prone to catch fire.

The move announced on the websites of Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday came after Samsung announced earlier this week that it was discontinuing the product, following reports that the replacements also were overheating.

The product safety agency said that 1.9 million original and replacement Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are subject to the expanded recall in the US, including one million Note 7 phones sold after Samsung's first round of recall on September 15.

The botched recall is raising questions about Samsung's initial analysis of the Note 7 phone's problems. At first, Samsung said a minor manufacturing error in the batteries for the Note 7 was causing the phones to overheat.

The problem with the replacements is still unclear. Experts say Samsung may have rushed to conclude the Note 7's problem was a battery issue and it may take a long time to find the real cause.

Seeking to retain customers, Samsung is giving an incentive of a US$100 credit to Note 7 owners who switch to another Samsung phone.

The Note 7 device was one of the most expensive smartphones in the market with all the latest technologies from Samsung, including the ability to unlock the phone by scanning a user's iris. It was sold for between US$850 and US$890.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said there were 96 reports of batteries in Note 7 phones overheating in the US, including 23 new reports since the first recall announcement last month. The company received 13 reports of burns and 47 reports of property damages associated with the phones.

"Consumers should immediately stop using and power down all Galaxy Note 7 devices, including Note 7 devices received as replacements in the previous recall," the agency said.

On Wednesday, Samsung Electronics said it would send fire-resistant packages to its customers in the US as a precaution against possible fires or explosions from Galaxy Note 7s they return to retailers.

Samsung is offering prepaid shipping boxes as an option for US consumers who purchased the phones on its website, Samsung.com. It said consumers who purchased their Note 7 phones from mobile carriers should visit the carriers' websites for recall instructions.

A video on YouTube dated on Tuesday shows a man it says is at the XDA Developers office in the US unpacking a kit containing a static shield bag, thermally insulated boxes, gloves and instructions for ground shipping only.

"We have just received this crazy Galaxy Note 7 return kit," the person said in the video.

According to the XDA Developers forum, Samsung's packing instructions say the Note 7 should be put in the static shield bag and then in a box labelled 'OEM Replacement' to be put inside an 'inner box' and a 'recovery box'. Shipping companies reportedly had complained they did not want to handle Note 7 returns because of fire concerns.

Samsung said the packaging kits conform with US requirements for shipping lithium-ion batteries or devices containing them that are subject to a recall.

- AP