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Samsung’s local recall reaches endgame

A Samsung customer browses a web page showing a fire-damaged Samsung Note 7 mobile phone, on a similar device, at a Samsung store in Seoul last month. Ed Jones/AFP
A Samsung customer browses a web page showing a fire-damaged Samsung Note 7 mobile phone, on a similar device, at a Samsung store in Seoul last month. Ed Jones/AFP

Samsung’s local recall reaches endgame

Samsung's local authorised distributor is pushing through with a full recall of Galaxy Note 7 phones in Cambodia following continued reports of exploding batteries in the devices, including some replaced during the company’s first global recall.

The Cambodia branch of Thai Samsung Electronics announced in a press release that it had set up an exchange program to run from November 10 to 30, urging Galaxy Note 7 owners to stop using the device immediately and return it for a substitute handset and cash.

Chher Sokleng, the branch’s marketing and communications manager, said yesterday that 1,320 Galaxy Note 7 units had been sold in Cambodia, though 97 percent of the devices had already been returned through the company’s exchange program.

While no incidents related to the phone and its battery were reported in Cambodia, Sokleng expects the remaining users to return the devices given the company’s favourable terms of exchange.

According to the release, Samsung Note 7 owners can exchange it for a different Samsung model and receive additional cash to cover the price difference, or get a full refund of their original purchase. The company’s Cambodian exchange program offers either the Galaxy S7 Edge, with an additional $170, or the Galaxy Note 5 with $210 extra.

“It is not difficult to return,” he said. “Customers just visit the store where they bought their phone and those stores will assist them for the exchange and refund program.”

The exchange program follows an initial plan in September to replace Note 7s with new handsets after reports first emerged of exploding batteries. However, after reports emerged of similar battery issues in the replacement phones, the South Korean manufacturer decided to end the phone’s production and issue a global recall.

Samsung has said it expects the recall to cost the company a total of $5.3 billion and affect around 2.5 million devices.

Sokleng said it was still too early for the distributor to assess the impact of the defective battery on Samsung’s image in Cambodia. “So far, we have not assessed the effect of this issue because, right now, our focus is on ensuring our customers’ safety and making the return process for Galaxy Note 7 owners as easy as possible,” he said.

Siv Mey, an employee at Vuthy Phone Shop, said he had not seen any significant drop off in the sales of Samsung devices at his store despite the South Korean company’s issues with its latest model. But many customers have sought extra assurance that the brand’s other models are safe.

“Samsung is a popular brand in Cambodia, so there is no major impact to our sales, which are stable, but it is still harder to sell than before as customers are scared of exploding batteries,” she said.

“Since the problem occurred, consumers are concerned about the quality of the battery, even though they still buy phones because the company promotes them with fair prices.”

Samsung reported a 17 percent net profit decrease in the third quarter of the year, representing a 30 percent decrease in profit from the same quarter in 2015. The firm recently issued a new global recall on certain models of its washing machines, adding to the company’s technological issues, though reported earnings in most of its other operations remained stable.

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