Consumer groups criticise Samsung

Call for consistent process to deal with Note 7 issues.

16oct consumer groups criticise samsung hero

Consumer rights organisations from around the world have criticised Samsung for its inconsistent approach during the Galaxy Note 7 recall and have outlined measures of what it needs to do to restore consumer trust.

The organisations, co-ordinated by Consumers International, have stated that Samsung must identify what went wrong in the product testing process, and the results must be subject to independent scrutiny, as well as publicly announced. It must have a consistent refund and exchange policy for all consumers that meets the highest standards, regardless of where the phone was bought or where the consumer lives.

While Samsung have committed to refund and exchange in all markets, there is inconsistency in where you can access these options and what you can get in return.

Instead of reacting to the situation as and when, country-by-country, Samsung needs a global, consistent and transparent process to deal with the crisis.

The consumer organisations felt intervention was needed following failures of the recall process and the inconsistent management of the product recall so far.

In some countries, customers were offered a temporary phone while waiting for their replacement as well as the ability to exchange handsets for a full cash refund in a number of locations, not just in store. However these measures weren’t consistently applied across all markets. The opportunity for customers to check whether their phone was affected by inputting their IMEI number into an online database was a useful tool but was only available to Samsung’s customers in some countries.

In areas that hadn’t had an official launch of the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung offered even fewer options and less information. Despite the possibility of people in these countries obtaining the new Galaxy Note 7 from other countries or travelling with it, Samsung did not warn consumers in these countries of the issues the phones were having.

In Latin America, it did announce the problem in Mexico but not in Brazil and Argentina. In Africa, in key markets such as South Africa and Nigeria, Samsung did not release any consumer warnings on its websites.

Based on this evidence, the organisations are demanding a clear, global plan of action by Samsung. One that offers all owners of affected phones the same treatment, including refunds and the chance to replace their handsets. One that also addresses clear consumer concerns such as transparency around the cause of the problems as well as outlining an environmental plan for managing waste from the phones.

Without this, the consumer organisations claim, Samsung will struggle to regain consumer trust or to be able to move on from this issue.

Amanda Long, Director General, Consumers International, said: “Samsung is a global company. Its handsets are just as likely to malfunction in Sydney as Seoul, so why should the way Samsung treats its customers in these places be any different. Instead of reacting to the situation as and when, country-by-country, Samsung needs a global, consistent and transparent process to deal with the crisis. Only with that in place can it start to rebuild the consumer trust which it has so badly undermined.”

CI’s open letter to Samsung’s CEO

Dear Dr Kwon,

Consumers International (CI) and a number of its Members around the globe are calling on you to properly address the continuing safety issues with the Galaxy Note 7, globally, fairly and consistently to the highest standards across all markets, so that all consumers can have full confidence in Samsung’s products and get a full refund if they choose.

  • CI and its Members want Samsung to publicly explain exactly how this serious failure in product safety happened, why it wasn’t identified in testing before being released to market and what practices they will put in place to ensure this or any similar incidents don’t happen in the future.
    • For this to be done to the highest standard, it should involve independent scrutiny with a clear timetable to release the findings.
    • If the findings show the cause of the problem to be the fault of a third party, Samsung should, as far as possible, be transparent in disclosing the name of the party as a public safeguard.
    • During this process, Samsung should, in the interest of environmental protection and its corporate social responsibility, announce a clear and comprehensive environmental plan for managing waste in relation to the Galaxy Note 7.
  • Samsung should offer all their customers who have purchased the Galaxy Note 7, global exchange or refund of parallel import products, to facilitate consumers who are overseas using the Galaxy Note 7 to redress the issue in the markets in which they are currently located.
  • Samsung must not simply repair the problematic handsets and market to developing countries as this will be deemed by the consumer movement to be exporting the risk to markets that may have much less protection for consumers.
  • If a consumer elects to replace the phone, the model must be the proven to be safe and the replacement should be accompanied with a refund for the difference in price from the Galaxy Note 7.
  • These remedies should be offered consistently across all their partner providers and operators in all markets.
  • In addition to this, Samsung should provide safety information on the Galaxy Note 7 in all markets regardless of where the phone has been sold, in order to protect consumers who may live, work or travel in other countries. Currently, communications with customers across markets has been inconsistent. For example, the level of detail given to Hong Kong consumers was much higher, with customers in this market being told the exact number of remaining affected units that had yet to be exchanged, as well being one of the few initial countries with the ability to cross check whether their handsets were safe with an IMEI database look-up. This level of useful information was not rolled out globally.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Amanda Long
Consumers International

The undersigned:
Consumers International, Global
Consumers Union, USA
Hong Kong Consumer Council
Consumer NZ, New Zealand
Choice, Australia
Test-Achats, Belgium
Altroconsumo, Italy
Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios, Spain
Deco Proteste, Portugal

Member comments

Get access to comment