At special booths set up at America’s busiest airports, Samsung Electronics Co. is letting travelers exchange their Note 7 smartphones.
The company is trying to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones, which are prone to catching fire and exploding and this program is part of Samsung’s that worldwide effort. A company representative said in a statement that customers can exchange the phones or get a full refund. Which U.S. airports or how many would be part of the exchange program were not specified by Samsung.
Regulators last week said passengers who try to carry Note 7 smartphones onto planes will have them confiscated and may face fines and they have banned the model from carry-on and checked baggage on all U.S. flights. Before arriving at the airport, Samsung is urging customers to get the refunds or exchange the phones.
Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen, who has been following the recall crisis said that Samsung has had to “scramble to figure out how to do the recall effectively and on a global basis — it’s handled differently in different regions based on laws and customs and regulations and such” after aviation agencies around the world banned the phone. “There’s no other benchmark in the industry for how to handle something like this. This is basically emergency reverse logistics,” Nguyen said.
The existing procedures for any hazardous material would be followed by Bottom of Form
American Airlines Group Inc. who will take any Note 7 phones discovered at airports. The owner can claim the devices which will be held for 30 days by the authorities.
Spokeswoman Lori Crabtree of Southwest Airlines Co. said that the company won’t hold the device for the owner even though it will handle the smartphone as a hazardous material. At multiple airport locations and on planes, both airlines are communicating the Note 7 ban to the commuters. Airlines also are e-mailing customers in advance of their travel about the Note 7 ban.
Airlines’ representatives said that as any other hazardous material, a Note 7 will be confiscated and turned over to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration upon landing if it is discovered on board a flight.
“We don’t have any reports of major issues with the collection of the Note 7 devices,” said American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein. American has taken custody of a few of the devices before passengers boarded, he said, without specifying the number.
“But the request is to not come to the airport with them in the first place,” he said.
After deciding to permanently end production of the troubled smartphone, Samsung cut its third-quarter operating profit by $2.3 billion last week.
In another potential set back to the company’s U.S. unit, a proposed class action lawsuit from three Galaxy Note 7 customers is staring at its face.
According to a filing in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey, a nationwide class of Note 7 customers in Nevada, Pennsylvania and California is being sought to be represented in the complaint against Samsung Electronics America Inc.
A spokeswoman for Samsung Electronics America declined to comment on the pending litigation. The consumers had discontinued using the phones after the recall but were asked to wait days or weeks for a replacement phone, alleges the complaint, filed on Oct. 16.
(Adapted from Bloomberg & Reuters)