Senator Wants To Know What’s Up With Samsung’s Lithium-Ion Batteries

Image courtesy of Samsung

While Samsung says it tested the batteries used in its now recalled and defunct Galaxy Note 7 devices before putting them in consumers’ hands, there are still plenty of unanswered questions related to how such a dangerous problem — exploding phones — could have gone unnoticed. 

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday sent a letter [PDF] to Samsung CEO Gregory Lee, pressing the executive for detailed information related to the Note 7 lithium-ion batteries, their testing, and the nature of their defects.

Blumenthal, ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, says any information he receives from the company will be used to strengthen standards, improve testing, and guarantee the safety of lithium-ion batteries in all consumer electronics.

“There is no question that products with faulty lithium-ion batteries pose a significant fire hazard that endangers consumer safety and property,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter to Lee. “As manufacturers try to pack more energy into smaller and lighter batteries to increase their battery life, I worry that they may not be taking appropriate steps to guarantee consumer safety.”

Despite raising questions about the safety of the lithium-ion batteries — which Blumenthal says are used in 95% of rechargeable electronic devices — the senator commended Samsung for “prioritizing customer safety over corporate profits, regardless of the circumstances.”

Still, it should be noted, that Samsung took weeks to officially recall the products, and instead announced a confusing exchange program when issues first began to crop up.

“While consumers are understandably frustrated by aspects of Samsung’s roll-out of this recall, I recognize this has been a fast-evolving situation and respect your ultimate decision to cease the sale and manufacture of original and replacement Galaxy Note 7 smartphones,” Blumenthal writes.

In all, Blumenthal asked Samsung to provide answers to more than a dozen questions, including what the company is doing to investigate the battery issues; who is responsible for creating standards for the batteries used in Samsung devices; what type of testing is performed on the batteries; and what remedies has the company offered customers who may have suffered injuries or personal damage as a result of the defective phones?

Blumenthal did not provide a deadline for answers, but asked that questions be answered promptly.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.