More Galaxy Note 7 fires reported as cryptic communications from Samsung complicate exchange process
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 situation continues to worsen, as two more replacement phones have lit on fire — and communications from Samsung to afflicted customers trying to return their devices and the general public about the issue is compounding the problem.
Two more replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones in the U.S. in addition to the pair reported on Sunday have burst into flames, with one on Sunday morning, in Virginia. Richmond resident Shawn Minter woke at 5:45 to flames from his bedside table.
"My Galaxy Note 7 replacement phone just burst into flames while on the night stand," Minter said in an email to The Verge. "It filled my bedroom with a smoke. The same as the Kentucky man. I woke up in complete panic."
Minter was offered another Galaxy Note 7 as a replacement by Sprint. He refused, and opted for the Galaxy S 7.
"Even though there are a limited number of reports, we want to reassure customers that we are taking every report seriously." — Samsung, regarding the multiple replacement Galaxy Note 7 fire reports.
In Houston, Texas, Daniel Franks' phone burst into flames at lunch on Sunday. Franks' phone had been replaced in September at Best Buy.
Samsung's ineffective communication continues unabated
Samsung continues to downplay the five reported replaced Galaxy Note 7 phones, and several from overseas, in multiple statements over several separate incidents. Even though there have only been five fires reported by the media of the replacement devices, there are likely more, plus in all likelihood several hundred thousand unreturned devices.
"We are working diligently with authorities and third party experts and will share findings when we have completed the investigation," again said Samsung. "Even though there are a limited number of reports, we want to reassure customers that we are taking every report seriously. If we determine a product safety issue exists, Samsung will take immediate steps approved by the CPSC to resolve the situation."
During investigation of his Galaxy Note 7 fire, Michael Klering from Kentucky received a misdirected text message from Samsung support.
"I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter," a Samsung support representative said in the message that Klering received. "We just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it."
In emails to consumers requesting refunds, as well as the official statement made after reports circulated that Galaxy Note 7 production was stopping, the language has been consistently unclear.
The e-mails to customers seeking assistance point to a nebulous third party "that specializes in recalls" handling the returns and refunds, which appears to be causing confusion. Samsung support claims to have only "limited information on a lot of the process" for refund claims.
Customers are also reportedly receiving emails with a different order number than was originally submitted, and are being directed to refer to the original confirmation order number to sign up, or sign up again, for return or reimbursement.
News spread on Sunday night that Samsung was ceasing production of the Note 7, based on sources familiar with the matter. Samsung has not specifically said that it is stopping production of the phone, however.
The company's official statement on the reports is that it is "temporarily adjusting the Galaxy Note 7 production schedule in order to take further steps to ensure quality and safety matters."
The two newest fire reports add up to five reported issues in a week, in the U.S. alone. None of the five phones were being charged at the time of the fires, with one of them completely shut off.
The shut off phone was on a Southwest Airlines flight. After the device started smoking, the airline evacuated 75 passengers from a flight preparing to take off from Louisville Airport in Kentucky on Wednesday.
Samsung issued a voluntary recall worldwide for the device after wide-spread reports of battery fires during charging that it initially denied. The company drew criticism from the U.S. Consumer Protection and Safety Commission for how the matter was handled from the initial denial of problems, to the voluntary recall process.
All customers who have purchased a Galaxy Note 7 should now be able to swap the device for a new one or for a refund either online or at wireless carrier corporate-owned stores, but the confused communications revealed on Monday cast some doubt on the simplicity of the process.