Why Don’t Carriers Just Kick The Galaxy Note 7 Off Their Networks?

Image courtesy of Samsung

Even when a recall is heavily publicized, not all of the items are recovered and returned to the manufacturer. That may be the case with the Galaxy Note 7, a smartphone that has a small chance of suddenly exploding for reasons that even the manufacturer still doesn’t fully understand. So why don’t phone carriers just block the devices from their networks, or why doesn’t Samsung remotely brick the devices to force customers to stop using them? Turns out that’s a tricky legal and ethical issue.

Here’s the problem: it’s not the customers who did anything wrong. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission can compel companies to take action, and ban the sale of recalled items, the CPSC doesn’t actually have any power over civilians.

Pamela Gilbert, the former executive director of the CPSC, doesn’t think that bricking phones from afar is a good idea, even if users were warned ahead of time. “It’s a terrible idea because people really do need to use their phones,” she told our sibling publication Consumer Reports. “You don’t want to turn off people to the recall system.”

At the same time, the phones pose a hazard to users and to people around them. The prospect of a phone catching fire on a commercial airliner has been especially prominent during the Note 7 non-recall and recall crisis.

Given the heavy publicity, it would be surprising if anyone connected enough to own a smartphone didn’t now about the recall, but some people are defiantly refusing to relinquish their phones, preferring to play the odds.

Samsung is trying to use a carrot instead of a stick: it’s offering customers in the United States a $100 credit to switch to the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. Both of those phones are significantly less flammable, but have also been on the market for longer, so you might be better off just taking the cash and going phone shopping. Just maybe don’t go shopping on Best Buy’s website, where iPhones are now mysteriously marked up.

Can Carriers Cut Service to Samsung Galaxy Note7 Phones? [Consumer Reports]

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