Samsung Will Recall Galaxy Note 7 After Reports Of Battery Explosions, Fires (But Hasn’t Done It Yet)

UPDATE: Samsung has released details of a “Product Exchange” program for the Galaxy Note 7, but it should be noted that an exchange program does not have the same legal effect as a recall issued in coordination with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

===ORIGINAL STORY===

Earlier this week, Samsung confirmed it was delaying shipments of the recently released Galaxy Note 7 phone following a handful of reports from customers about the battery exploding or catching fire while charging. Now the tech giant says an official recall of the Note 7 is coming.

“It has been confirmed that it was a battery cell problem,” the head of Samsung’s handset division, told the Wall Street Journal.

When Samsung canceled shipments of the Note 7 on Wednesday, it said the delay was “due to additional tests being conducted for product quality,” while South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the company knew of at least five claims of the phone, which was only released in some markets a few weeks ago, exploding or catching fire while plugged in for charging.

Now Samsung tells the Wall Street Journal that it has thus far heard of 35 cases of this battery problem. It estimates that around 24 phones out of every million units is faulty.

Though the exact details and timeline for the recall have not been announced, Samsung says customers will receive a full refund for their device. The company estimates it will take around two weeks to replace the phones. The company will offer the replacement program in all 10 countries where the Note 7 is sold.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, with which companies are supposed to coordinate before announcing these sorts of recalls, has not yet posted a formal announcement of the Note 7 issue. One federal safety official tells Consumerist that it does not help consumers for Samsung to be making a blanket “Yeah, we’ll recall it” statement without having discussed the matter with safety regulators.

“Companies should not be putting out unilateral recall announcements,” said the official, who asked to not be identified by name. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a global product or a solely U.S.-based company. Consumers should be appropriately informed, and that takes time and planning. It does not serve consumers well to simply say a product will be recalled without coordination regarding the scope and remedies.”

While it’s never good for business to have to recall a high-profile product, the timing is particularly bad for Samsung. Its main competitor in the smartphone market, Apple, is set to announce the latest iPhones next week on Sept. 7. Meanwhile, Hanjin, Korea’s largest shipping company, has filed for bankruptcy, leaving ships full of products destined for holiday sales stranded or seized while Samsung, LG and many others scramble to find new shipping partners in time.

As we noted on Wednesday, the CPSC’s SaferProducts.gov database currently has no reports published from Note 7 users complaining of the fire/explosion issue. However, there are a number of complaints published that allege similar fire and smoking problems with previous device models in the Galaxy line. However, unlike the Note 7, those phones were not recalled by Samsung.

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Samsung to Recall Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Over Reports of Fires [WSJ]
Samsung Stops Galaxy Note7 Sales, Will Replace Phones on Market [Consumer Reports]